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Re: Naming of <header>

From: James Graham <jgraham@opera.com>
Date: Fri, 27 Mar 2009 15:02:45 +0100
Message-ID: <49CCDC85.1030208@opera.com>
To: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
CC: public-html@w3.org
Lachlan Hunt wrote:
> James Graham wrote:
>> The <header> element's name seems to be creating some considerable
>> confusion, with authors either assuming it designed to be used for all
>> page header content or that it is designed to replace <h1>-<h6> and be a
>> generic heading element (e.g. [1], [2] and note that these are the tiny
>> fraction of people who are motivated to ask about these things upfront).
>> Almost no one seems to guess that it is supposed to be used for grouping
>> multiple heading/subheadings into an overall heading. This implies that
>> it will be poorly used in practice and so UAs will not be able to
>> reliably implement e.g. the outline algorithm since it will give
>> unexpected results on real sites.
> 
> The name of the element was based on common class names and IDs used by 
> authors for similar purposes, which can be seen by looking at the 
> results of surveys.
> 
> http://www.stuffandnonsense.co.uk/archives/naming_conventions_table.html
> http://code.google.com/webstats/2005-12/classes.html
> 
> Looking at sites that actually use the header element, there doesn't 
> really seem to be significant confusion.  I took a look at many of the 
> sites listed by HTML5 Gallery, and of those using <header>, I didn't see 
> any using it wrongly.

Several of those sites use it unnecessarily to wrap <hn> elements, 
suggesting that they have not fully grasped the point of the element. 
Moreover that is a hugely biased sample because they are early adopters, 
all of whom are likely to be aware of tools like validators. We need to 
make markup robust in the face of people who are unaware of such tools. 
Therefore I think the fact that there are people with enough of a clue 
to find the right irc channel in which to find help who are struggling 
with this concept is a much stronger indication of the intuitiveness of 
the status quo than the fact that a few early adopters have read the 
spec and so are using the element correctly.

On the subject of names <headings> came up which I guess I should toss 
into the ring.
Received on Friday, 27 March 2009 14:03:07 UTC

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