W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > December 1999

re: Re: Navigation Tag, extend link

From: <rev-bob@gotc.com>
Date: 09 Dec 99 05:57:36 -0500
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-Id: <199912090552992.SM01128@Unknown.>
> > > corporation > company > department > project > product
> > >
> > > with links to appropiate places. It would be nice to represent this
> > > hierarchy with link elements instead.
> >
> > Why?  HTML is at least supposed to be a *semantic* language - introducing
> > new tags just to get around the unwillingness of some people to provide proper
> > navigation is a really *bad* idea.
> 
> And I want to make it more *semantic*. My idea is to define some more
> relations to an already existing tag and relation system, to make it easier
> for people to provide pure *semantic* information. I am not proposing
> anything that will be spinning and singing or displayed in green. It is up
> to the user and UA to decide.

Well, hit my head and call me strange, but I just don't like the concept of leaving 
something as crucial as site navigation "up to the UA".  Consider the track record most 
browsers have; do you really want to trust Mozilla/Netscape or IE to display an adequate 
navigation menu?  And even if this were to wind up in a spec somewhere, what would 
that change?  LINK is already in the spec, and it's already supposed to do some of these 
things - and it's been almost uniformly IGNORED.

Where does this leave a website author like myself?  Well, I can either use the 
enhancement to the spec and have a site that nobody can navigate, or I can disregard the 
enhancement and do my own navigation with easy-to-specify links that every browser on 
the planet can handle.  Hmm, however shall I decide this knotty problem?

> > Everything you want to do with this "extension" can be done perfectly
> > well with the existing A element - just use that and be done with it.
> 
> How do you mean? And I don't mean syntactically?

Go to Yahoo, or maybe to Netscape's Netcenter portal.  Drill down a few levels into 
their hierarchy.  Notice how each level is represented by a link at the top of the page?  It 
looks kind of like this, which was used to kick off this whole thread:

corporation > company > department > project > product

That's easy to code.  I mean it - it's dirt simple.  Why do we need to change the spec to 
say "The UA should do that for us"?  I just Don't Get It.  I can do that myself if I want it 
done - and by doing it myself, I can use the extremely basic A element to implement it.  
That means that this navigation will be visible on everything from Mosaic and Lynx to 
Mozilla 5.0 and IE 5.5.  Where's the downside to that, and where's the upside to 
"enhancing LINK"?

> > Yeah - I think the very fact that we're discussing "let's make a new tag
> > for navigation" speaks for itself.  Ridiculous.
> 
> I'm talking about using an existing tag more efficient instead of
> introducing new ones.

And I'm talking about using an existing AND RECOGNIZED tag instead of calling an 
under-known tag out of obscurity.  Every browser handles A; many browsers do not 
handle LINK.  From where I sit, this decision is as much of a no-brainer as whether to 
specify ALT text on images - accessibility and compatibility win every time.

> Use something like rel="parent/n", (n=1,2,3,...) and you just declare some more
> values along with "prev" and "next" etc. These are already possible to use today, but
> it's better to declare them in the specs. What is your solution to this semantic problem?

Give your document some structure that's worth a damn, that's my solution.  You want 
Previous Page and Next Page links?  Fine - code 'em.  It's really not that hard:

<a href="page1.html">Previous</a> - <a href="main.html">Index</a> - <a 
href="page3.html">Next</a>

Wow, that was tough.  And ooh, it works on every browser known to man!  Hey, look, 
it even provides exactly the links you wanted - previous, main page, and next page!  I 
bet, if you really wanted to, you could even manage to use this at the top *and* bottom 
of your page, to make it easier to find!  What a concept!

Why do we need to revise the spec for this?  Are people really *that* hard-pressed to 
provide even minimal navigation on their pages?  And if they are, is it W3C's job to 
encourage them by changing the spec?  I certainly hope not....



 Rev. Robert L. Hood  | http://rev-bob.gotc.com/
  Get Off The Cross!  | http://www.gotc.com/

Download NeoPlanet at http://www.neoplanet.com
Received on Thursday, 9 December 1999 05:53:29 GMT

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