Next steps for the ARIA syntax discussion

Dear HTML, XHTML2, WAI-PFWG and implementers,

We would like to encourage discussion of this email and the analysis at [1] to take place on
[be aware that 'reply-to:' on this message has been set accordingly].

At a relatively late stage in the development of the ARIA specification, the TAG was invited to consider the question of the markup syntax for ARIA states and properties, in particular the question of whether the attributes encoding them in HTML- and XML-based languages should be written 'aria-...' (hereafter "the dash approach") or 'aria:...' (hereafter "the colon approach").

Based in part on a re-examination of the facts on the ground as regards existing browser implementations, and in part on consideration of the more general issue of language extensibility in the long term, (both reported in _Syntax for ARIA: Cost-benefit analysis" [1]), the TAG has arrived at the working hypothesis that the colon approach is both technically feasible and strategically preferable.

The TAG is well aware that the WAI PF WG has built up a very productive working relationship with implementers of all the major browsers, and that the current state of the ARIA specification is in no small part the result of the valuable information gained from the implementation work which has already been done.  We recognize the value of that relationship, and nor do we wish to delay the progress of ARIA to Recommendation unduly.  But we also think our work brings important new information to bear on the question, and that the TAG's remit to keep wider web-architectural issues in view adds weight to our concerns.

Accordingly, we would like to invite you to consider three questions:

  1) Are the facts about the current state of play with respect to how
     current implementations work as set out in [1] reasonably

  2) Is the cost-benefit analysis in [1] missing any substantive
     considerations, particularly as regards the cost of changing
     implementations given testing timeframes, product release cycles,

  3) The TAG's working hypothesis is that "aria:" is both technically
     feasible and strategically preferable, on the grounds that the long-
     term benefits of a consistent approach to extensibility across all the
     Web languages outweighs the short-term costs of making the change
     at this time:

      (to the WAI PF WG):    Would you consider specifying 'aria:' in the
                             next WD of ARIA;

      (to the implementers): Could you see your way to changing your
                             implementation/spec. to comply?

We would be happy to work with you to move forward quickly to a final resolution on this question.

Stuart Williams (co-chair)
for and on behalf of the W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG)

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Registered No: 690597 England

Received on Wednesday, 14 May 2008 16:27:51 UTC