[html5] A <ui> Tag?

Darcy Murphy mrdarcymurphy at gmail.com
Thu May 13 08:41:38 PDT 2010

Mostly I'm being an overly picky perfectionist, but in my opinion the
separation of content and chrome is where HTML falls apart from an
application development perspective. HTML5 was originally intended "to
address the need for one coherent development environment
for Web Applications" (
and it has made enormous strides towards that, so please don't think that
I'm discounting anything that's been done so far. However I feel strongly
that it's not quite as useful as it could be, and this one little tag that
I'm arguing for would do it (for me).

For example consider a text area with a WYSIWYG toolbar atop it. The toolbar
is clearly UI chrome, a collection of buttons and inputs, but it doesn't
submit any information to the server, it only modifies the textarea I'm
working with. For something as complex as http://280slides.com you can
clearly see that the only actual "document" on the page is the slide you're
currently working on, everything else is purely UI Chrome and I believe it
should be marked up as such, not as the ridiculous <div> soup that it is.

I think I understand what you're saying regarding HTML Documents having no
notion of AJAX and to a point I agree, but by that argument they also have
no notion of Javascript and to discount the importance of the new JS API's
in HTML5 would be wrong. Web apps aren't web apps these days without JS, and
subsequently, AJAX.

In order to build web apps properly we've been taught that pages need to
work over, around, and despite a wide array of inconsistently available
functionality — that's the reality we live with in order to have extremely
interoperable apps (a computing achievement that shouldn't be looked down
upon). The additional tags in HTML5 don't violate that, and I don't believe
that a <ui> tag would either. All I'm thinking is that a subtle realignment
and enhancement regarding what part of an HTML document is content and which
part is chrome would be extremely valuable not only to us as developers but
also to our site's users.

- Darcy

On Thu, May 13, 2010 at 9:11 AM, Nathan Ziarek <nziarek at gmail.com> wrote:

> > From what I
> > gathered the newly added tags are all still oriented towards document
> > creation.
> You are right here, but I think this is the way it should be. HTML
> documents are just structure. They don't have any notion of AJAX.
> > With HTML5 being principled on
> > improving our ability to create Web Apps I found it strikingly odd that
> in
> > this age of AJAX I cannot semantically group my controls without having
> to
> > invoke a refresh of my page every time a button is pressed.
> This is the part I don't understand. When you write your web
> application, have the JavaScript return false to all submit events.
> While HTML5 will improve the ability to create apps, HTML is designed
> to scale and fall back through progressive enhancement.
> I think a <ui> element for semantic purposes -- telling search engines
> that this information isn't part of the content of the page -- could
> be useful (although I can't come up with a scenario where the new
> elements won't suffice for my uses). A <ui> element used only to
> change the default behavior of HTML (form submission, link navigation)
> doesn't quite line up with my expectations.
> Maybe I'm misunderstanding the issue?
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