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

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Thu Nov 1 17:18:51 PDT 2007

On Mon, 9 Jan 2006, Sander Tekelenburg wrote:
> >>
> >> Authors can only suggest presentation, in the end the *user* decides 
> >> on it. That's the essence of the Web. Thus we should not be thinking 
> >> merely about what authors want, but at least as much, and probably 
> >> more, about what users want.
> >
> > As a user on a dual monitor 1600x1200 system, I certainly don't have 
> > any issues with space for navigation...
> {shrug} You still have the same problem: namely that the author of the 
> site cannot know that you have those 2 large screens.

Actually media queries make this information quite accessible.

> > At the moment, sites can (and do!) provide a view of their site, 
> > customised to their site, on pages as appropriate for that page and 
> > that site. For example:
> >
> >    http://www.google.com/support
> >
> > ...has links to other major Google pages in a sidebar at the top left, 
> > links to related pages in the mid-left sidebar area, links to related 
> > features at the bottom of the left sidebar, links to major subsections 
> > in the middle of the page, a search form at the top right, links to 
> > popular subpages in the sidebar to the right, alternative suggestions 
> > below that, links to other related pages below _that_, and at the 
> > bottom has links to links only loosely related to the main topic.
> >
> > How would that page look if authored with your proposal?
> The page wouldn't exist ;) It *is* entirely a navigation menu. There is 
> no other content there. In 'my proposal', Google wouldn't have to do 
> that anymore. It could offer all that navigational information on pages 
> that do have 'actual' content and leave it up to the user-agent to 
> present it in a useful manner.
> That aside, I imagine your point is that there are so many links on that 
> page, and that they are grouped in sections. But I see no problem with 
> that. All those links together (assuming they all have a rel attribute 
> and are set to display meta) would in a simplest form be displayed 
> through some meta presentational mechanism as a long 'flat' list of 
> links to other sections. That list might be presented as a shorter list, 
> each with sublists - thus keeping the sections, provided sections are 
> marked up that way. But instead of a list it could be presented as 
> objects (iconized and/or text perhaps) for the 'root' items, each 
> offering their sub items through a contextual menu. Display the current 
> page in the center of the screen, with everything else around it. Arrows 
> pointing from the "current page" in the center could make the "rel" 
> concept quite visual. Whatever. All up to the browser vendor's 
> imagination. (I imagine objects with contextual menus pointing to sub 
> items could work well on a small screen, like with a hand-held device. 
> But it might work well with large-screen desktops too.) For extra 
> coolness it could be implemented like Mac OS X's Expose feature: hit 
> some F key and have the entire screen filled with floating objects 
> representing the pages the site's menu points to ;)
> You could even turn it around. Imagine a Web page that offers both 
> actual content and such a complex navigation menu as your Google example 
> contains. A user-agent could present those navigational links as a Web 
> page in a separate browser window, maybe looking exactly like this 
> Google page. After all, display:meta would not require a Toolbar. It 
> would merely require *some* 'meta-mechanism' for presentating content. 
> (Consider lynx' LINK implementation for example - no toolbar, but it 
> works fine. Or consider iCab's "Link Manager", which brings up a browser 
> window with a list of all links found in the currrent page.)

It would help to see an actual implementation of all this, to show that it 
would in fact be better than Web pages having their own stuff.

> > Or take this page:
> >
> >    
> > http://buzz.yahoo.com/buzz_log/entry/2006/01/07/2100/?fr=fp-buzz-img
> >
> > [...] How would that page look if authored with your proposal?
> Same as that Google page. (Except of course the links within the actual 
> text would remain there.)

These pages are very different from each other. Saying they should be 
authored "the same" (especially when you've said one shouldn't exist) 
seems very vague, and not at all concrete enough for me to spec something.

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

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