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Re: Skip links ARE a markup problem (was RE: Skip links should be a markup problem)

From: Bryce Fields <bryce.fields@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2005 14:14:15 -0400
Message-ID: <4000d8ad050426111447e62039@mail.gmail.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

On 4/26/05, John Foliot - WATS.ca <foliot@wats.ca> wrote:

> Hmmm... Interesting Red Herring.  The discussion at hand is how to allow end
> users the ability to "skip over" redundant hyperlink blocks (a.k.a. the site
> navigation menu).  While further "explaining" complex hierarchal structures
> is also an important need/desire, it neither adds nor subtracts from the
> current discussion.  The end user simply wishes to bypass the repetitive
> stuff and get to the "meat" of the individual document.  At WATS.ca, we
> employ the following:

*snipped exapmple*

> While not perfect, it does allow for a) page content navigation, and b) some
> hierarchal information regarding navigation.  The biggest issue here is that
> the 2 major browsers are not supporting this element to the end users.
> Sadly, IE and Firefox simply bypass this code; user agents such as Mozilla
> (I'm stumped here, why not Firefox too?), Opera (some limited support), and
> Lynx are currently supporting them, so, to answer your question, are they
> "working"?  Answer: for some, yes.

Personally, I think this IS a very good solution to the problem, as I
had stated earlier in the previous incarnation of this thread.  It not
only can convey semantically meaningful information to an end user,
but also allows users to skip over repetitive chunks of code.  Heck,
not just skip over chunks of the document, but if implemented on a
well-structured page allows the user to skip to ANY desired piece of
the the page, an action sighted users take for granted.  And while IE
and Firefox support for the link element isn't native, a very good
extension for Firefox exists, as well as an add-on for IE (though I've
not tested the IE add-on).

The problem is, as you've alluded to earlier, how to leverage makers
of assistive technology to implement this greatly-overlooked element,
and to educate web developers that this technique exists.

> So what are we to do?  Well, for one I would like to see the W3C/WCAG do a
> couple of quick fix things to the "existing" documents/standards.
> #1 on my list would be to modify the DTD to include the specifically named
> relative links of "navigation" and "content"; adding them to the existing
> list (http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-html40-19980424/types.html#h-6.12)

I totally agree.  While I think link was envisioned to outline
interdocument relationships, it's the perfect vehicle for
intradocument relationships as well.

> While individual authors can hack a DTD to include them ("Authors may wish
> to define additional link types not described in this specification. If they
> do so, they should use a profile to cite the conventions used to define the
> link types. Please see the profile attribute of the HEAD element for more
> details"), this is neither practical nor realistically functional.

Apparently it doesn't have to involve hacking DTD's at all.  Here's a
peak at the profile for the XFN (XHTML Friends Network) relative link
types (http://gmpg.org/xfn/1) included in all current WordPress
deployments.  That profile is marked up as a simple definition list. 
Personally I find the specs completely vague on profiles and see
nothing to invalidate their approach, but that may just be my

> However, if the W3C made these 2 minor changes to the DTD, and it reached
> the media with sufficient "noise", then we could assume that the message
> would go out to developers: start using these relative links.
> I further suspect that the browser authors would/could quickly adopt these
> new element attributes (if the media noise was loud enough) into their
> tools: Opera already supports some relative links, Firefox should and
> probably would in about a week's time if it were "announced", given that
> Mozilla currently does support them and the open source nature of the
> browser, and, well apparently Microsoft are "listening" to the community as
> they work on IE 7, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that IE 7
> could support them too.

So what's to stop developers now, and making noise now?  What good
reason is there that WASP (or a similarly-minded grass roots
organization) doesn't latch onto this now?  We've had the means to
identify semantically-meaningful pieces of our documents since HTML
4.01 emerged, it's just that we're only now recognizing it.
Bryce Fields, Webmaster
Where I Work: Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
Where I Play: www.royalrodent.com

"Do or do not! There is no try!" -- Yoda
Received on Tuesday, 26 April 2005 18:14:23 UTC

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