[whatwg] Menus, fallback, and backwards compatibility: ideas wanted

Sander Tekelenburg tekelenb at euronet.nl
Fri Dec 9 10:00:16 PST 2005

How does all this menus stuff relate to the LINK element? I'm getting the
feeling that this might kill the best of what the LINK element has to offer:
ease of navigation through recognisability.

Most websites use "menus" for navigation. Every website presents this
differently, even though often semantically they are the same. The LINK
element has the advantage of allowing users to recognise such navigation
easily, because the same browser will present those LINKs the same on every

A practical problem is that some browsers still don't support LINK (most
notably Safari and IE), which 'forces' web publishers to duplicate those
links in the body. That in turn leaves little incentive for web publishers to
even bother offering LINK-based navigation. The end user loses. They now need
to figure out basic navigation on each and every website anew.

I'm getting the feeling that the proposed "menu" here could take this both
ways: it could move web publishers even further away from LINK by offering an
entirely new mechanism to create navigation menus - the end users loses
(because every site's navigation will be different) ; it could be defined in
such a way that it would enhance LINK - the end user wins.

So I feel that a definition of "menu" should promote the use of LINK. It
could do so by stating that "menu" (or perhaps only a subset, "menu
type=navigation") should get its contents from LINK elements. That way web
publishers wouldn't need to dupicate navigational links anymore and
user-agents could allow users to decide whether to present such menus inline
in accordance with the site's suggested presentation (CSS), or in the sort of
toolbar that current browsers offer for LINK.

I realise that a downside would be that it would make mark-up a bit more
complicated for non-professionals. OTOH, more and more websites are generated
by automated systems these days, for which it would be dead-easy to mark
things up this way automatically.

For those of you who don't know it, here's what I wrote about LINK and
navigation 5 years ago: <http://www.euronet.nl/~tekelenb/WWW/LINK/>

Sander Tekelenburg, <http://www.euronet.nl/~tekelenb/>

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