[whatwg] Context help in Web Forms

Matthew Thomas mpt at myrealbox.com
Sun Jun 12 17:14:50 PDT 2005

Derek Featherstone wrote:
> I've actually been thinking about that for a while - rather than leaving it
> to a "guess" why not bind it specifically with something like an about
> attribute that identifies the specific element/node it references?
>  rel="help" about="#phone-number"

Or perhaps <a ... rel="help" for="phone-number">, to be consistent with 
the for= attribute in <label>.

Many applications provide inline help which is not a label, and the same 
attributes would be appropriate here: <div rel="help" 
for="phone-number"><p>The full number, including country code.</p> 
<p>Example: <samp>+61 3 1234 5678</samp></p></div>

The cite= attribute was also mentioned in this thread as one that is 
practically useless because there is no good way of presenting it. 
(Sometimes authors use JavaScript to pull it out of a <blockquote> and 
present it as a link underneath. But that still has accessibility 
problems, because it doesn't work without JavaScript, and the resulting 
link text is either a raw URL or the same text for every quote. These 
problems make the technique even more unworkable for <q>.) As a result, 
authors usually use an <a> link to the resource they're quoting (look at 
most self-hosted Weblogs for examples), and there ends up being no 
machine-readable connection between the link and the quote. This could 
similarly be achieved in the <a> element with a for= attribute giving 
the ID of the <blockquote> or <q> element.

The majority of authors still wouldn't use these attributes, because it 
would give them no presentational benefit. But at least authors would be 
slightly more likely to use them than to use attributes that they have 
to re-present using extra elements or JavaScript.

Matthew Thomas

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