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Re: QSA, the problem with ":scope", and naming

From: Alex Russell <slightlyoff@google.com>
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 2011 11:46:46 +0100
Message-ID: <CANr5HFXHCr8ka3QiMJ5-bnE0vaMeQLLpN5EdT0YN-nhvo-NYNQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>
Cc: Webapps WG <public-webapps@w3.org>, Yehuda Katz <wycats@gmail.com>, John Resig <jeresig@gmail.com>, Paul Irish <paulirish@google.com>, Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
On Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 3:07 AM, Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc> wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 18, 2011 at 9:42 AM, Alex Russell <slightlyoff@google.com> wrote:
>> Lachlan and I have been having an...um...*spirited* twitter discussion
>> regarding querySelectorAll, the (deceased?) queryScopedSelectorAll,
>> and ":scope". He asked me to continue here, so I'll try to keep it
>> short:
>>
>> The rooted forms of "querySelector" and "querySelectorAll" are mis-designed.
>>
>> Discussions about a Scoped variant or ":scope" pseudo tacitly
>> acknowledge this, and the JS libraries are proof in their own right:
>> no major JS library exposes the QSA semantic, instead choosing to
>> implement a rooted search.
>>
>> Related and equally important, that querySelector and querySelectorAll
>> are often referred to by the abbreviation "QSA" suggests that its name
>> is bloated and improved versions should have shorter names. APIs gain
>> use both through naming and through use. On today's internet -- the
>> one where 50% of all websites include jQuery -- you could even go with
>> element.$("selector") and everyone would know what you mean: it's
>> clearly a search rooted at the element on the left-hand side of the
>> dot.
>>
>> Ceteris peribus, shorter is better. When there's a tie that needs to
>> be broken, the more frequently used the API, the shorter the name it
>> deserves -- i.e., the larger the component of its meaning it will gain
>> through use and repetition and not naming and documentation.
>>
>> I know some on this list might disagree, but all of the above is
>> incredibly non-controversial today. Even if there may have been
>> debates about scoping or naming when QSA was originally designed,
>> history has settled them. And QSA lost on both counts.
>>
>> I therefore believe that this group's current design for scoped
>> selection could be improved significantly. If I understand the latest
>> draft (http://www.w3.org/TR/selectors-api2/#the-scope-pseudo-class)
>> correctly, a scoped search for multiple elements would be written as:
>>
>>   element.querySelectorAll(":scope > div > .thinger");
>>
>> Both then name and the need to specify ":scope" are punitive to
>> readers and writers of this code. The selector is *obviously*
>> happening in relationship to "element" somehow. The only sane
>> relationship (from a modern JS hacker's perspective) is that it's
>> where our selector starts from. I'd like to instead propose that we
>> shorten all of this up and kill both stones by introducing a new API
>> pair, "find" and "findAll", that are rooted as JS devs expect. The
>> above becomes:
>>
>>   element.findAll("> div > .thinger");
>>
>> Out come the knives! You can't start a selector with a combinator!
>>
>> Ah, but we don't need to care what CSS thinks of our DOM-only API. We
>> can live and let live by building on ":scope" and specifying find* as
>> syntactic sugar, defined as:
>>
>>  HTMLDocument.prototype.find =
>>  HTMLElement.prototype.find = function(rootedSelector) {
>>     return this.querySelector(":scope " + rootedSelector);
>>   }
>>
>>   HTMLDocument.prototype.findAll =
>>   HTMLElement.prototype.findAll = function(rootedSelector) {
>>     return this.querySelectorAll(":scope " + rootedSelector);
>>   }
>>
>> Of course, ":scope" in this case is just a special case of the ID
>> rooting hack, but if we're going to have it, we can kill both birds
>> with it.
>>
>> Obvious follow up questions:
>>
>> Q.) Why do we need this at all? Don't the toolkits already just do
>> this internally?
>> A.) Are you saying everyone, everywhere, all the time should need to
>> use a toolkit to get sane behavior from the DOM? If so, what are we
>> doing here, exactly?
>>
>> Q.) Shorter names? Those are for weaklings!
>> A.) And humans. Who still constitute most of our developers. Won't
>> someone please think of the humans?
>>
>> Q.) You're just duplicating things!
>> A.) If you ignore all of the things that are different, then that's
>> true. If not, well, then no. This is a change. And a good one for the
>> reasons listed above.
>>
>> Thoughts?
>
> I like the general idea here. And since we're changing behavior, I
> think it's a good opportunity to come up with shorter names. Naming is
> really hard. The shorter names we use, the more likely it is that
> we're going to break webpages which are messing around with the
> prototype chain and it increases the risk that we'll regret it later
> when we come up with even better functions which should use those
> names.

So long as the slots are still writable, no loss. Their patches into
the prototype chain still exist. Being afraid of this when we're "on
top" seems really, *REALLY* strange to me.

> Say that we come up with an even better query language than
> selectors, at that point .find will simply not be available to us.

Premature optimization. And "$" is still available ;-)

> However, it does seem like selectors are here to stay. And as much as
> they have shortcomings, people seem to really like them for querying.
>
> So with that out of the way, I agree that the CSS working group
> shouldn't be what is holding us back. However we do need a precise
> definition of what the new function does. Is prepending ":scope " and
> then parsing as a normal selector always going to give the behavior we
> want? This is actually what I think we got stuck on when the original
> querySelector was designed.
>
> So let's get into specifics about how things should work. According to
> your proposal of simply prepending a conceptual ":scope" to each
> selector group, for the following DOM:
>
> <body id="3">
>  <div id="context" foo=bar>
>    <div id=1></div>
>    <div class="class" id=2></div>
>    <div class="withChildren" id=3><div class=child id=4></div></div>
>  </div>
> </body>
>
> you'd get the following behavior:
>
> .findAll("div")  // returns ids 1,2,3,4
> .findAll("")      // returns the context node itself. This was
> indicated undesirable

And, in follow-up mail, we talked extensively about why I didn't
*really* mean "just prepend the string ':scope '".

I think empty string is a special case that we should treat as "return
an empty list".

> .findAll("body > :scope > div")  // returns nothing

I suggest we treat ":scope" occurring after the first term of the
selector as an error.

> .findAll("#3")  // returns id 3, but not the body node

Correct. Assuming the query is
document.find("#context").findAll("#3"), which is what I think you
mean for the root to be in these examples?

> .findAll("> div") // returns ids 1,2,3

Yep.

> .findAll("[foo=bar]") // returns nothing

Right.

> .findAll("[id=1]") // returns id 1

Right.

> .findAll(":first-child") // returns id 1

Agreed.

> Is this desired behavior in all cases except the empty string? If so
> this seems very doable to me. We can easily make an exception for the
> case when the passed in string contains no selectors and make that an
> error or some such.
>
> I do however like the idea that if :scope appears in the selector,
> then this removes the prepending of ":scope " to that selector group.
> Is there a reason not to do that?

Hmm. I think I might like that better than an execption. Worried about
it being too magical, but I don't have a strong opinion either way.

> Additionally it seems to me that we could allow the same syntax for
> <style scoped>. But maybe others disagree?
>
> I think appropriate optimizations as well as extensible functions
> should be out-of-scope for this thread. They are both big subjects on
> their own and we're approaching 50 emails in this thread.

Agreed.
Received on Thursday, 20 October 2011 10:47:41 GMT

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