[whatwg] What improves Web applications?

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Wed Aug 25 17:11:26 PDT 2004

On Fri, 13 Aug 2004, Nigel McFarlane wrote:
> > >
> > > We differ on what tight navigation is. I mean really tight.
> > 
> > I guess I don't know what you mean then. Could you give detailed examples?
> For the keyboard: word processing speed - maximum typing rate.
> For the mouse:  graphic design speed - leaping from palette
>                 to palette instinctively, clicking "where it works"
>   		  without checking the thing clicked on.

Ok, so why wouldn't Web apps offer that kind of experience?

> > > I would ask you to compare Web/doc navigation with the data-entry 
> > > behaviour of bank tellers or travel agents.
> > 
> > I am not familiar enough with these systems to understand how the 
> > navigation in such systems differs from the navigation in HTML. Could 
> > you describe some cases for us?
> In summary, a subset of such applications rely heavily on tab-navigation 
> and the use of micro-prompting cues like keyword completion in fields. 
> Some even have a command line for keyword-based screen navigation. The 
> user tends to bounce between screens or subsections of screens using 
> shortcut techniques specific to the app. Scrolling is almost never used, 
> unless the app has strong document-display functions. Mouse-pointer 
> navigation and dialogs when added, rarely increase the speed of use.

There's nothing inherent in HTML that would make this kind of application 
impossible. Obviously, though, we could make it easier. Autocompletion in 
fields may be helped by the <datalist> element; tab navigation might be 
helped by the <tabbox>/<group> element.

> A Unix example with some vague equivalence would be elm (a character 
> mode email reader). The ancient input styles of VisiCalc or EDIT are 
> others. Bash is another. Used repetitively, these are very fast tools.

Indeed. It should be possible to make HTML do that, too.

> Blue-skying for a minute, though, I can see how some meta-data hints in 
> HTML about the availability of keys or data input workflow steps might 
> allow browsers to display additional navigation info for the user 
> (perhaps in a toolbar),

This is already available (<link>) and has been seen HTML2; the ball for 
this feature lies in the UA's court, I think.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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