W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > July 2007

Re: Accesskey - Whats it for?

From: Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>
Date: Wed, 04 Jul 2007 14:44:36 +0100
Message-ID: <468BA444.6040502@cfit.ie>
To: Robert Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Cc: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>

A couple of brief observations/comments.

> I think my main comment on accesskey would be that we should approach it like other features under recent discussion - start with the problem and requirements, not the solution

Maciej has made this point a couple of times, and I have to say I agree.
I find myself sometimes on this list (maybe due to the high volume of
traffic) unsure of what point exactly, is being made/argued, where
modifications are being suggest and in general where within the
discussion issues are at. Again, it could just be a high traffic
backlash. Anyway if I ever quote anyone out of context, please accept my
apologies in advance.

Rob said:
> I don't think accesskey is meant to (nor should be required to) work on every device. 
>[...]So I think the accesskey merely needs to address the
problems/use-cases it wants to address.

I agree. What is accesskey for? Its usage on our desktop/laptop
environments has been problematic due to *potential* for UA conflict,
however this is often not as bad as it could be and real work accesskey
disasters have by and large been few and far between. However, the fact
that there was potential at all made them an undesirable mechanism for
users to get around the page and I have always recommended that our
clients remove them. Does the group thing there will be an about face in
terms of their implementation in desktop environments?

*If* accesskeys are to be used in order to facilitate easier user
navigation of web interfaces then I also think, as Rob suggested, that
they should be considered on a case by case basis with implementations
modified according to platform, device user preferences etc. In terms of
how they can be used on line (traditional desktop set up) they are
pretty useless. Users of AT have other ways of navigating around and by
groups such as this expanding the semantics available or using hooks etc
future web interfaces may not need them at all.

There can be situation where they are useful (as hacks to make up for a
lack of hooks for example) and if they are to be used I suggest very
much a constraint based approach, which limits the author defined key
combinations they can use.


Chaals, I haven't fully checked out your suggested specs yet but it
looks interesting, will do so and comment forthwith.

Josh
Received on Wednesday, 4 July 2007 13:45:11 UTC

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