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Re: Why Skip Navigation Links are a Hack

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2003 18:02:33 -0700
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
To: tina@greytower.net
Message-Id: <E1A8861A-9E03-11D7-AEE2-000393D9E692@idyllmtn.com>

On Friday, June 13, 2003, at 04:56 PM, tina@greytower.net wrote:
> On 14 Jun, Nick Kew wrote:
>> This presupposes authors taking any notice of the XHTML structure,
>> which again brings it back to the same situation as with current HTML.
>   It also assumes support for XHTML 2.0 in user-agents.


> Seeing where we
>   have gotten so far with the ideas you mention from HTML 2.0 I am less
>   than optimistic.

It's easier to upgrade user agents than get everyone to put visible 
navigation" or "skip to main content" links on their pages.

In fact, most browsers now could quite easily support <section> and <h>.
<nl> is harder to do, because the browsers aren't looking for href 
on <li> elements, but even that isn't such a stretch to picture being

But let's talk about HTML 2.0.  You seem to think that browsers aren't
properly implementing the <link> attribute as defined by HTML 2.0 -- 
here's what it says:

   Link:  LINK

   The LINK element represents a hyperlink (see section Hyperlinks).  Any
   number of LINK elements may occur in the HEAD element of an HTML
   document.  It has the same attributes as the A element (see section
   Anchor:  A).

   The LINK element is typically used to indicate authorship, related
   indexes and glossaries, older or more recent versions, document
   hierarchy, associated resources such as style sheets, etc.

The problem with browsers "not implementing <link>" is that it is vague
on how to present this metadata.  Neither HTML 2.0, nor 3.2, nor 4.0,
nor 4.01, nor XHTML 1.0 specifies what it means to use <link>.  Should
this be presented as a menu?  In a pop-menu with page information?
Should it be visible content?

The closest that you get to this is a vague suggestion in HTML 4.0:
"Although LINK has no content, it conveys relationship information
that may be rendered by user agents in a variety of ways (e.g., a
tool-bar with a drop-down menu of links)."

Note the word "may," BTW.

>   The 'skip to main content' idea isn't really a bad idea. It isn't 
> even
>   a hack, but using quite normal - for HTML - internal links.

It's still a hack, because the only reason the link exists is to 
a structural deficiency in HTML.

>   Such links are quite useful for taking a user directly to a section 
> of
>   a document he or she is interested in. For instance the main content.
>   There is nothing hackish about this at all.

There's a difference between a set of links designed to take you through
the document, and one which is designed to take to, well, where you
appear to be now, which was only inserted for supposed compatibility 
screenreaders and other linear forms of access.

We'd be much better off with a robust markup language instead of HTML
which requires literally telling, in a way that _varies from site to
site to site_, where the primary content is located and where the 
links are.


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                     http://kynn.com
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain                http://idyllmtn.com
Author, CSS in 24 Hours                       http://cssin24hours.com
Inland Anti-Empire Blog                      http://blog.kynn.com/iae
Shock & Awe Blog                           http://blog.kynn.com/shock
Received on Friday, 13 June 2003 20:57:22 UTC

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