[whatwg] Context help in Web Forms

Charles McCathieNevile chaals at opera.com
Sat Jun 11 09:00:53 PDT 2005

On Sat, 11 Jun 2005 16:46:58 +0200, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:

> On Sat, 11 Jun 2005, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
> Sorry, I should have been clearer. We got feedback from implementors
> saying they couldn't think of a way to make it discoverable, and we got
> feedback from Web descigners saying it wouldn't be useful if it wasn't
> discoverable.

OK. This is in fact a generic problem in HTML - consider most of the  
things that the userJS  
http://userjs.org/scripts/browser/enhancements/frameset-links does - links  
like longdesc, the cite attribute from quotes, etc. Longdesc in particular  
is important to get right, for accessibility (I am thinking about this  
because I am blogging photos from a phone and want to share the results  
with friends who are blind).

They are discoverable in the sense that they are in the DOM, which allows  
user agents to work out something sensible - context menu (like iCab does  
for most of these things) or a transformation on demand that shows the  
links like Tarquin's script or an XSLT as an alternate stylesheet, or  
exposing them in a particular user interface like JAWS does with its  
propretary contexthelp attribute.

One of the difficulties is that many content providers don't want to  
"clutter their page with help links" - something that I think is in fact a  
bad design decision on their part, but nevertheless is a reality. (This is  
related to the problems of design limitations that lead to things like  
image replacement techniques...)

Anyway, having the ability to add a help link in the body, with particular  
context-sensitivity (as discussed for including a link with rel="help" in  
a form control label) is probably sufficient. I'll take that discussion  
back to W3C's Protocols and Formats group (the part of WAI that deals with  
review of specifications to ensure they enable accessibility) and see what  
they think...

cheers and thanks - I think this discussion has helped me clarify some of  
the issues too.


Charles McCathieNevile                              chaals at opera.com
          hablo español - je parle français - jeg lærer norsk
   Here's one we prepared earlier:   http://www.opera.com/download

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