Re: HTML forms

Dave Raggett (
Mon, 3 Mar 1997 18:04:40 -0500 ()

Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 18:04:40 -0500 ()
From: Dave Raggett <>
To: "nemo/Joel N. Weber II" <>
Subject: Re: HTML forms
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 3 Mar 1997, nemo/Joel N. Weber II wrote:

> These comments are regarding the `Design Issues for HTML Forms';
> the draft is at
> The name `accesskey' seems unintuitive to me.  I'd prefer something that
> doesn't look like a name invented by marketing people.  `key' and
> `shortcut' and `hotkey' and `keystroke' are all names that I would
> consider an improvement over `accesskey'. 

Personally, I prefer shorter names where the meaning remains clear.
In this case its also a matter of achieving consensus in W3C's HTML
working group. 

> I'm not exactly sure what the keybindings under Windows are, but I have
> a feeling using the command key on the Mac is going to cause problems.
> IIRC, command-q is normally used to quit an application program.  With
> this proposal, it will be possible for the creator of a page to remap
> command-q.  That seems completely wrong to me.
> Probably the Right Thing would be to either use the key without a modifier
> when the focus is not assigned to an input field; or possibly allow
> the use of the control key.

Globally assigned keys cause difficulties in compound documents. The
author assigned key may conflict with the operating system, with the
UA (e.g. the menus or toolbar) or with other objects in the hierarchy
defining the document. AccessKey emphasises the importance of using
keystrokes to *access* the document elements by people with disabilities.

One way around this is to switch to a navigation model. A sequence of
key strokes traverses the hierarchy taking you to the specific element
you intended. Microsoft Windows uses this approach with ALT+key for
accessing menus etc.

Given that authors don't know what access keys are used for the menus
(since these are UA/platform dependent), we need an unambiguous means
to move the context to the document rather than the menu bar. This can
be defined on a UA specific basis. Once, in the document, the author
should be able to control the key strokes needed to move around the
hierarchy of elements within the document.

On Windows ALT+key is appropriate. On other platforms other choices
are needed. For the Mac an additional modifier key may be needed to
avoid clashes with global command keys. Another combination may be
appropriate for X11. The spec is being revised to make these issues

> I can't really understand the disabled attribute, because I don't see
> any examples.

This allows the server to initialize a given field as being disabled
e.g. because the current state of other fields precludes this field
from being changed. With scripts the disabled flag can be modified
dynamically rather than awaiting the processing of a submitted form.

> The label proposal makes sense to me; except that putting the accesskey
> on the label and not the object it describes makes no sense to me at all.

This is debateable.

Thanks for your comments.
  Dave Raggett <> tel: +1 617 258 5741 fax: +1 617 258 5999
  World Wide Web Consortium 545 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139