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Re: Clarifications to definition of "active element"

From: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001 12:38:49 -0500
Message-ID: <3A71B629.B03F215B@w3.org>
To: "Hansen, Eric" <ehansen@ets.org>
CC: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
"Hansen, Eric" wrote:
> I find some aspects of this confusing.
> The statement "Content determines what is an active element" makes one
> wonder how the word content is being used. Is it correct that since
> "content" is what is in the DOM, then the DOM holds all the information that
> this definition says determines whether an element is active or not?


The set of active elements (always based on content) may be reduced 
by the state of user interaction with the document.

Note that in the future, users may be able to specify behaviors
through style sheet-like content, I assume allowing them
to override author-specified behaviors or to simply add their
own. But this would still be content.

> One ambiguity is that it is hard to tell how you are using the term "active"
> in this description. One the one hand, the term seems to be used to mean
> "activatable" (via triggering), such that an "active element" is one that
> could (under some circusmstances) be activated.


> The description make one
> wonder if an active element is one that is not only activatable but is also
> in its active state; for example, what does it mean to "deactivate" an
> element: (a) to turn an active element into an element that is _not_ an
> active element (i.e., from triggerable to untriggerable) or (b) to change an
> active element from its active state to its inactive (though still
> triggerable) state?
> I think that this needs to be clarified.

We don't use the term "active" in the document to mean that
an element is in its active state. I am comfortable adding that
clarification to the definition.

However, if you think that that the term "active element" might
be confusing, we might use "interactive element" instead. 

PROPOSED: Change "active element" to "interactive element".
> Also, from the description it is not clear why the notion of "applicability"
> is relevant.

As usual, this is about what the user agent can recognize. While
this principle is globally relevant and defined in the section
on applicability, I don't think it hurts to remind people in critical
places that "what is X" depends on whether X can be recognized.
So I mention that being an active element is a "role" that is
subject to applicability (since one of the applicabilitly provisions
refers to recognizing the role of content).

 - Ian
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Ian Jacobs [mailto:ij@w3.org]
> > Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2001 7:34 PM
> > To: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
> > Subject: Clarifications to definition of "active element"
> >
> >
> > Hello,
> >
> > Based on some comments from Eric, I've attempted to clarify
> > the definition of active element. The key clarifications are:
> >
> >   1) Content determines what is an active element.
> >
> >   2) The state of the user's interaction with the document may
> >      limit which elements are active (examples are given).
> >
> >   3) Not all user interactions involve active elements (e.g.,
> >      text selection and copying to the clipboard).
> >
> >   4) The role of "active element" is subject to applicability.
> >
> > The full definition follows.
> >
> >  - Ian
> >
> > An active element is a piece of content with associated
> > behaviors, that the user may trigger (or, "activate") either
> > through the user interface or through an API.
> >
> > Content always determines what constitutes an active element. For
> > instance, the HTML 4 [HTML4] specification defines a number of
> > active elements: links, image maps, form controls, element
> > instances with a value for the "longdesc" attribute, and element
> > instances with scripts (event handlers) explicitly associated
> > with them (e.g., through the various "on" attributes). The role
> > of an element as an active element is subject to applicability.
> >
> > The state of the user's interaction with that content may limit
> > which elements are active. For instance, an element may be
> > "deactivated" by a script as the result of the user's interaction
> > with the content. Or, an element may only be active during a
> > given time period (e.g., during part of a SMIL 1.0 [SMIL]
> > presentation). Or, the user may be viewing content in "read-only"
> > mode, which may deactivate some elements.
> >
> > The user may interact with content without necessarily activating
> > active elements. For example, selecting an element's text and
> > copying it to the clipboard is clearly user interaction but does
> > not make that element an active element. (The element may also be
> > an active element, but only by virtue of how the author has
> > encoded it, not by virtue of the selection functionality provided
> > by the user agent.)
> >
> > The consequence of triggering an active element depends on the
> > element. For instance, when a link is activated, the user agent
> > generally retrieves the linked Web resource. When a form control
> > is activated, it may change state (e.g., check boxes) or may take
> > user input (e.g., a text entry field). See also the definition of
> > event handler.
> >
> > Most operating environments use the content focus to indicate
> > which active element will be triggered on user demand.
> >
> > --
> > Ian Jacobs (jacobs@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
> > Tel:                         +1 831 457-2842
> > Cell:                        +1 917 450-8783
> >

Ian Jacobs (jacobs@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Tel:                         +1 831 457-2842
Cell:                        +1 917 450-8783
Received on Friday, 26 January 2001 12:38:56 UTC

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