[whatwg] Accesskey in Web Forms 2

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Tue Dec 7 18:05:38 PST 2004

On Tue, 9 Nov 2004, James Graham wrote:
> > > 
> > > Yeah, that makes sense. So we're saying access keys should be 
> > > completed deprecated in HTML?
> I disagree and I doubt whether browser makers would sacrifice HTML 4 
> features that may be important in some applications (e.g. intranet 
> sites) even where long-standing usability issues exist. Instead, we 
> should merely change the text about accesskeys to note that:
> 1) UAs _should_ provide a mechanism for invoking document accesskeys 
> that does not conflict with OS/application keybindings (this typically 
> precludes alt + key or ctrl + key).

The problem is that on desktop platforms, pretty much every sane modifier 
key is taken, leaving only pretty silly interfaces (like a modal UI where 
you have to switch to "access key mode", or a prefix UI where you have to 
hit a key before the access key); and on non-desktop UIs, the access keys 
specified will most likely not be available in the first place.

> 2) UAs _should_ allow accesskeys to be assigned to elements where no 
> author-defined accesskey exists and _should_ allow author-set 
> keybindings to be overridden

That's entirely up to the UA. Google's robot (to take one UA at random) 
obviously wouldn't want to assign shortcuts.

> 3) UAs _should_ provide a list of accesskeys defined on the current page 
> (2 above will necessarily require this)

Again, that's up to the UA. On Mac there is no real concept of access 
keys, so it makes no sense to show a list of them.

> Additionally we could standardise accesskeys for authors (all with 
> _should_ or even _may_ ) e.g. acceskey s _should_ be used to focus a 
> search field. Accesskey 0 _should_ return the user to the site homepage 
> etc.

This doesn't scale. It might work for very basic sites, but anything more 
complex (say, Bugzilla, GMail, or Voidwars) and it becomes useless.

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

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