ISSUE 90 Remove figure element discussion


I’ve read some of the discussions and the various change proposals on this.
Here is my opinion on the issue.

The Figure element seems at first look a way to encapsulate an image and its
caption in a more structural way than a div with an image and a paragraph
with the image having an aria-labeledby linking the paragraph for

The figure element can also include diagrams, codes, poems, or anything that
can be grouped, annotated and maybe could be put outside the main flow of
the document.

As such, I find the name figure confusing because it can be used for
something else than a figure / image. The semantic difference between
figure, aside and details is minimal and I think it might become confusing
for authors. All of them are grouping elements, figure and aside are related
to a section / content /page, figure is referred in the document, but not
aside. Both details and figure have captions / summary, but have different
default behavior / presentation. What if aside had a caption element?

I am not sure of the usability of those elements. Their use will probably
depend on the usefulness of their default presentation / behavior and the
impact they could have on SEO and such. They don’t bring much value to the
table and there is a good chance they might be misused. I would like to know
the impact on accessibility that a figure element is misused? If figure is
used instead of aside, or even article…

Is figure only useful to add presentation to a grouping element or does it
have real semantic value? If the reason to have figure is to force a caption
element to a group so that assistive technology can use it to give better
accessibility, then maybe a similar element that can be used on any grouping
element would be a better idea.

As such, I am not sure if the figure element is really useful. I could
definitely live without it. On blogs, long documents and articles it can
have its place, elsewhere… meh.

A small question: In a slideshow of product photos in an e-commerce web
site, would figure be the correct element to use? Could a caption describe
(or label) many images?

With all of this, I mildly support the change proposal to remove the figure
element. I don’t think it adds very much to HTML except maybe confusion. The
figcaption name is definitely something that should be changed. I am sure
this will be dealt with in time.

So basically, yep, I said it, I don’t really care about this element. I may
end up using it on my blog, but for professional stuff ? Time will tell.


Benoit Piette

Received on Sunday, 2 May 2010 21:23:00 UTC