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[Bug 8309] New: semantics of footnotes : why not using <aside> elements as well?

From: <bugzilla@wiggum.w3.org>
Date: Sun, 15 Nov 2009 22:17:20 +0000
To: public-html-bugzilla@w3.org
Message-ID: <bug-8309-2486@http.www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/>

           Summary: semantics of footnotes : why not using <aside> elements
                    as well?
           Product: HTML WG
           Version: unspecified
          Platform: PC
        OS/Version: Windows NT
            Status: NEW
          Severity: normal
          Priority: P2
         Component: HTML5 spec proposals
        AssignedTo: dave.null@w3.org
        ReportedBy: verdy_p@wanadoo.fr
         QAContact: public-html-bugzilla@w3.org
                CC: ian@hixie.ch, mike@w3.org, public-html@w3.org

I don't understand why the <aside> semantic can't be applied to footnotes. The
HTML5 draft currently suggests using <a> links, but this does not properly set
the semantics, and does not also allow alternate rendering for footnotes,
notably between paged media, aural media, and non-paged visual media.
The links also does not allow setting properly the relations between groups of
footnotes with document sections.

Why can't <aside> element include some properties to suggest the intended
location, such as after the section end and before the next section, or at end
of the current page, or at end of another higher-level section (such as the
current chapter, or current book), or below the current paragraph or block (the
smallest section level), or by default beside it (if possible, otherwise it
could become another block possibly rendered with indentation (by default), or
a frame around it (the effective style for the note's block could be defined
also by a stylesheet).

Using the title="" attribute is also bad from a pure accessibility point of
view (it won't work properly for pages medias, notably when printing, where
another visible location would be preferable, with the same additional grouping

I then suggest extending <aside> to offer:
- an identifier for the side/foot note : this would be the visible number, or
typographic symbol used to access the note from the text where it is
referenced, and that would also be automatically inserted at the begining of
the note's content. Aural medias may need to change this identifier.
Optionally, this identifier could also be a number, generated automatically,
according to the notes numbering rules in the group of notes to which it is
- a notes grouping mode (or an automatically computed group according to some
rules, such as a set of sub-section levels, generally identified by its heading
type like chapter, book) which describes how far the note will be located from
the main content section where the note is inserted.
- some rendering hints (probably part of CSS styles) for various media types
(notably for visual paged and non-paged medias)

And then to deprecate, from a semantics perspective, but also from an
accessibility perspective, the legacy use of the title attribute, or of links.
Instead, <aside> notes will just be used to define the content of the note, and
there will be a way to insert a reference to it within the main content, where
a visible link could be automatically inserted according to the <aside> element
properties and its associated CSS styles.

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Received on Sunday, 15 November 2009 22:17:21 UTC

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