W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > January 2005

Re: tabindex on headers

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2005 10:26:09 +0200 (EET)
To: Livio Mondini <livio.mondini@tiuvizeta.it>
Cc: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.58.0501201009400.8120@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Wed, 19 Jan 2005, Livio Mondini wrote:

> Tabindex is a good navigation tool.

I find that questionable. By the very idea, it mixes markup (which is
presumed to describe a document's logical structure) with some fixed idea
of how a user should move inside the page. In practical usability,
it either affirms the obvious and natural tabbing order (in which case it
is redundant) or deviates from it, causing potential confusion.

If the visually obvious tabbing order deviates from the order of elements
in markup (e.g. because the page has been formatted that way using table
layout or CSS), then it really depends on the browser what is obvious to
each user. And this is probably a problem that should be solved by
removing the cause, rather than tabindex settings which may work for some
users some of the time.

If a suggested tabbing order (different from the obvious one) is regarded
as potentially useful, it should be suggested outside the document's
markup. It's comparable to styling or scripting.

> and headers denote important section of documents.

No they don't. Headers are headers for something, like sections.
Headers are usually important, but that's not part of the definition.
For example, in a novel, chapters may have headings like "Chapter 1".
There's nothing particularly important in such a heading.

Besides, why would importance matter? A header cannot be tabbed to, so
what would the tabindex be for?

If you mean that it _should_ be possible to tab to a header,
then this is really an implementation issue more than anything else.
Nothing prevents a browser from constructing a table of content from
headers on a page and giving some shortcut method of moving to a header.
Actually, that would be a very good idea. Authors have
had to construct explicit tables of content, with entries as links to
headings, for longish documents to make them reasonably useable.
Adding such functionality to browsers would be redundant for pages
that already have a table of content, but that would probably be

> Why don't add tabindex
> attribute for headers also?

If it were possible to tab to headers (and it actually is, if the author
makes each header a link), what would be the point of allowing an author
specify a tabbing order for them (or for the totality of "tabbable"
elements where they belong) so that when a use hits tab, he gets to
somewhere else than the place he expects to get to?

Why not remove the tabindex attribute from HTML?

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Thursday, 20 January 2005 08:26:42 UTC

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