[whatwg] WA 1.0 - document outline suggestion

Mihai Sucan mihai.sucan at gmail.com
Fri May 25 03:15:24 PDT 2007

Hello Hixie!

Again, thanks for replying to one of my very old emails. Also, note the  
email address change.

Le Fri, 25 May 2007 00:18:48 +0300, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> a écrit:

> On Wed, 16 Nov 2005, ROBO Design wrote:
>> I see the WA 1.0 specification contains a great deal of prose describing
>> in minute detail how to build a conforming document outline, based on
>> sections and headings [1]. Very good.
>> Why not also add in DOM: document.outline ? [...]
> Thanks for the idea.
> I don't think a document outline DOM API is something that has a great
> deal of demand. It's also something that could be implemented in a
> JavaScript library or on the serverside. Generally speaking we want to
> keep the APIs in the spec to a minimum, limiting them to primitives that
> are useful for a broad range of purposes, rather than having many
> special-purpose APIs. So I haven't added the outline DOM idea to the  
> spec.
> The main reason for having this section is to enable scripts and user
> agents to create outlines in user interfaces without ambiguity about what
> is a section. This is an area that has historically been very much
> underdefined. We shall have to see, with implementation experience,
> whether this is useful or not, and what UA implementors will do with it.
> Cheers,

I'm skeptical about UAs implementing the outline algorithm.

If there would have been a very high demand for UAs to implement some kind  
of document outlining algorithms, that would have happend already, with or  
without any standard algorithm.

However, we have seen sites which create their own document outlines. Why?  
Because the demand was even higher. I've created my own document outlines,  
specific to my documents (either manually, or scripted).

Also, let's look at UserJS, Widgets and even UserCSS. I've seen UserJS  
scripts which generate document outlines, same goes for CSS. Of course,  
CSS is very limited compared to JS - but yes, I've seen such user styles.  
Given Widgets are small web application packages (HTML+CSS+JS+etc), it is  
conceivable some of them will also need document outlining.

I agree there's a demand for document outlining within an UA, but that's  
all theoretical, in ones imagination. I did think long time ago, and I  
still do, about how good would be to have UAs which implement document  
outlining and several other features which would really make *semantics*  
more obvious for the average Jane/Joe user. Yet, *today* the "need" is on  
the web.



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