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

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Sun Jan 8 17:21:42 PST 2006

On Sun, 1 Jan 2006, Sander Tekelenburg wrote:
> >
> > I'm not convinced the problem you describe is real. For example, you 
> > say "Ask any WWW newbie; ask any experienced Web surfer; ask any Web 
> > site developer "what are the biggest problems with Web sites?" and 
> > chances are "navigation" will rank in their top 3." but have you 
> > actually tried this?
> In a non-scientific manner, yes. I constantly see friends, family, 
> clients, strangers, colleagues struggle to figure out how to navigate 
> through sites they don't know yet.

Well sure, I struggle through such sites myself. The problem would not be 
aleviated by having a single point for site navigation, because the 
problem is just that the sites have poor structure. It doesn't matter how 
you _present_ the structure, if the structure itself is broken.

> > [display:meta] could be interesting if (and it's a big if!) you could 
> > convince browsers to implement it.
> I imagine it would be a logical step for Opera and Safari to take, given
> their activity in the hand-held/small screen market where something like this
> would probably be very useful.

Well go and convince them and when you have some implementations we can 
add it to the spec. :-)

> > I tried to get <link> reliably and widely implemented for around five 
> > years. I failed. I don't see why we would be more successful with 
> > display:meta.
> I understand your point about time, but I think you're forgetting a 
> related and essential factor: "situation". In the past 5 years the 
> Web/browsers have matured somewhat. Standards-support is valued much 
> more today.

(Actually, this is a common mistunderstanding. It isn't standards support 
that is valued. It is interoperability. Standards support is merely one 
way to help foster interoperability.)

> In other words, the current situation is different from that of 5 years 
> ago.

I didn't say I tried to get <link> implement five years ago. I said I 
tried to get it implemented _for_ five years. About four of those five 
years were more recently than five years ago.

> Something like display:meta wouldn't have stood a chance back then, but 
> it might today.

I'm not convinced. Please prove me wrong. :-)

> As to us "failing": 5 years ago only lynx and iCab offered LINK support. 
> Today Opera and Mozilla do so too, even WinIE can, through a third-party 
> tool, and last but not least some automated Web publishing systems 
> generate LINKs. If I'd had to choose between labelling that as "failure" 
> or "success", I'd have to pick "succes". The only thing we failed at is 
> getting WinIE to support it natively - and I don't see how we could not 
> have failed at that.

Neither of the two biggest browsers (IE and Firefox) ship with support for 
<link> navigation as standard. Neither expects to do so in their next 
version. Thus some 98% or so of users don't have access to <link> 
navigation UI. Similarly, 98% or so of pages don't have any links for such 
UI to hook into in the first place, so even the few users who could use 
such a UI, rarely see it. CMS-based blogs and autogenerated documentation 
are the typical exception, but they aren't a big part of the Web (the 
blogosphere's collective ego notwithstanding).

I couldn't call this a success without diluting the meaning of the word.

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

More information about the whatwg mailing list