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Re: Context of the main element

From: Cameron Jones <cmhjones@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2013 17:32:24 +0000
Message-ID: <CALGrgeuODSF2DuMDaFg9j5Zk_ryZytO+q4u7iSDpCCT-Ts-BGw@mail.gmail.com>
To: Jeremy Keith <jeremy@adactio.com>
Cc: "HTML WG (public-html@w3.org)" <public-html@w3.org>
On Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 5:16 PM, Jeremy Keith <jeremy@adactio.com> wrote:

> Cameron wrote:
> > The <main> element is not supposed to be a general purpose container
> element, there are <section>, <article> and <div> 's for both semantic and
> unsemantic collections of elements.
>
> I wasn't asking for it to be general-purpose. It's semantic meaning is
> very, very specific: it's for the main content. The only detail I was
> questioning was the scope: why not mark up the main content of an aside, or
> nav, or article?
>

But it is a general purpose container element if all it is for is to wrap
the "main content". By mutual exclusion, anything which is not secondary
content is main content.


>
> > Because it doesn't mean anything in any practical sense, only as
> "semantic sugar" for css targeting.
>
> In that case, why are header and footer allowed in contexts other than the
> main body of the document? Are they also only "semantic sugar"? If so,
> what's wrong with yummy, yummy semantic sugar?
>

They annotate secondary content.


>
> > The point of <main> was to enable non-determinable, nested,
> skip-to-content navigation where the structure of the page is too
> complicated for algorithmic determination.
> >
> > This is what the ARIA attribute is for, and, the vis-a-vis role of the
> <main> element. If not implemented in a compatible manner by authors the
> use case of <main> is negated to the point that it can only be regarded as
> a non-semantic container element, aka a synonym of <div>.
>
> Well, now I'm confused. Because the nav element fulfils a similar role
> (skip straight to navigation) but that *is* allowed in multiple contexts
> and may appear more than once in a single document. But user agents are
> still able to figure out which nav element is scoped to the document body
> and therefore corresponds to the ARIA landmark role of "navigation".
>

Navigation is contextual. Main is not. (Sorry if i'm being overly brief)


> > It would seem that proponents will not be convinced otherwise until
> there is real world data so this is a catch-22 situation, but expanding the
> use cases of <main> only shows the misunderstanding within the
> specification reading community prior to deployment so it's not looking
> good.
>
> I think I have understood the spec pretty well, and I'm very much
> convinced by Steve's argument that a main element is needed in order for
> the native semantics of HTML to have full parity with ARIA landmark roles.
> My only quibble is the means by which parsers achieve this. Given that
> parsers are already matching native semantics to ARIA roles in the cases of
> nav, header, and footer (where they only do so when those elements are
> scoped to the body), I'm suggesting that the parsing of the main element
> could work the same way. As a bonus, we get to use the main element within
> other sectioning content (just as we get to use header and footer within
> sectioning content). But parity with ARIA landmark roles is still achieved.
>

You will not achieve parity if an element is misused to the point that it
can no longer be relied upon.

I do not share the conceptual ideology that it is even *possible* to
achieve parity for an experience as diverse as that which can be coded
within a HTML document structure.


> > I honestly can't see the reasoning that thinks that if you can't get
> people to use role="main" (which is far more semantically flexible anyway)
> you're somehow going to get everyone to use <main> correctly for the sole
> purpose of enhancing accessibility.
>
> Well, as you said, until there is real-world data, we wont' know.
> Personally, I was quite happy to simply use role="main", but I think a lot
> of developers have a preference for elements over attributes.
>
> Also, isn't the point of the native HTML semantics that, at some future
> stage, the ARIA landmark roles will no longer be necessary? i.e. they are a
> stop-gap solution (admittedly a very long-term gap). But as long as there
> was no native semantic that corresponded with role="main", ARIA roles could
> never be abandoned completely. Hence, the main element.
>
>
>
Elements and attributes serve very different purposes.

I believe that a lot of the noise around <main> is simply to have a 'clean'
css and has nothing to do with accessibility. Not all proponents of <main>
do i'm sure, but i think the message will be lost within the wider
community.

Thanks,
Cameron Jones
Received on Thursday, 31 January 2013 17:32:52 GMT

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