W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > February 2013

RE: Context of the main element

From: Léonie Watson <tink@tink.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2013 20:19:49 -0000
To: "'Jeremy Keith'" <jeremy@adactio.com>, "'Steve Faulkner'" <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
Cc: "'Gez Lemon'" <g.lemon@webprofession.com>, "'HTML WG'" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <02d201ce00b9$7c705750$755105f0$@tink.co.uk>
Jeremy Keith wrote:
"As for use cases: every single use of a header or footer within sectioning
content (other than the body element) is also a potential use case for

And this in turn is one of the biggest challenges for screen reader
vendors/users. Managing the signal to noise ratio is becoming a near

HTML5/ARIA aware screen readers announce the start/end of each of these
elements. It's usually helpful to know where the header/footer of the
overall page happen to be, but when the header/footer of multiple chunks of
the page are announced it rapidly becomes "interesting".

Ideally there would be some way to handle this and/or configure it within
the screen reader, but experience suggests that's likely to be an algorithm
too far for GWMicro, Freedom Scientific et al.

For this reason I have qualms about the use of header/footer in this way,
although I realise it's too late to do much about it. I understand the logic
of what you're suggesting, but worry that it diminishes one of the principle
values of the main element as it stands.


Léonie Watson

E. tink@tink.co.uk
T. @LeonieWatson
S. Leonie.Watson
W. tink.co.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeremy Keith [mailto:jeremy@adactio.com] 
Sent: 01 February 2013 11:20
To: Steve Faulkner
Cc: Gez Lemon; HTML WG (public-html@w3.org)
Subject: Re: Context of the main element

Steve wrote:
> for example I don't see how your suggested changes will benefit users who
consume the semantics, what will the semantics of nested main be when mapped
to the acc layer?

Oh, none. I would imagine that any instances of the main element that don't
correspond to the main landmark (i.e. any instances that aren't scoped to
the document body) wouldn't have any special semantics for the acc layer
…they'd effectively be no different than divs.

And that prompts the question "well, why not just use a div, then?" …which
is a fair question. But seeing as HTML5 introduces a few other new elements
that (I believe) don't have any effect on the outline or on the acc layer
(e.g. header and footer within sectioning content), then the introduction of
a new element like main seems like a good opportunity to give authors the
option of using a dedicated element in place of a generic div.

Cameron referred to this as "semantic sugar", which, while it was probably
meant as a negative term, is actually a pretty good way of describe many of
the new elements in HTML5.

So my suggestion really just boils down to throwing a bone to authors.

As for use cases: every single use of a header or footer within sectioning
content (other than the body element) is also a potential use case for main.


Jeremy Keith

a d a c t i o

Received on Friday, 1 February 2013 20:20:20 UTC

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