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HTML <select> vs. role=combobox

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2008 13:20:11 +0200
Message-Id: <1C99170A-3D20-4270-8639-169EC1D7AE52@iki.fi>
To: public-pfwg-comments@w3.org

HTML <select> is listed as a related concept of role=combobox.

When a HTML <select> element is not acting as a listbox, it acts as a  
popup menu--not as a combobox. (ARIA seems to call a Windows-style pop- 
up menu a "closed combobox". Pop-up menus on e.g. Mac OS X and Gnome  
are clearly a distinct widget with nothing that could be construed as  
a textbox "combo", though.) There's no native ("open") combobox in  
HTML before Web Forms 2.0. In HTML5 (Web Forms 2.0), a text input can  
be turned into a combobox with the list attribute.

What makes the definition of role=combobox particularly confusing is  
that its child element requirement seems to be modeled according to a  
pop-up menu without leaving room for child elements that implement the  
textbox part of a combobox.

Moreover, while the text notes "open" and "closed" comboboxes (a  
Windows-ism as pointed out above), it doesn't say how do make the  
distinction between "open" and "closed" using ARIA.

Henri Sivonen
Received on Friday, 28 March 2008 11:21:04 UTC

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