[whatwg] Proposal for a link attribute to replace <a href>

Shannon shannon at arc.net.au
Fri May 30 10:45:06 PDT 2008

There's a lot of focus on "use cases". Here is the one that led me to 
start this thread:

http://www.duttondirect.com/automotive/for_sale (disclaimer: I am not 
responsible for the design of this page)

The table hover effect is not easily acheived without global href. My 
client likes it, the users like it and it is perfectly obvious 
navigation (despite being non-standard). At the moment I am acheiving 
the effect with event bubbling but I consider this approach to be 
bloated, ineligant, prone to breakage and lag on slower devices. It also 
suffers from the poor compatibility of the event.button property 
(activates on right/middle-click instead of just left). Nonetheless it 
improves the ease of navigation for most users.

A global href would allow me too turn the whole mess of event code into:

<tr href="foo.html"> ... </tr>

... and all the issues I just mentioned would vanish.

People on this list should be very careful about claiming properties and 
tags will be abused. Bad interfaces exist already and often as a result 
of missing behaviours in the standard. Wrapping tables and block content 
in <a></a> is just one example (it works, believe it or not). Trying to 
force designers into better layouts by denying features is stupid. It 
will simply drive them into invalid layouts, Javascript, Flash or 
Silverlight where they are free to make even bigger mockeries of 
standards and interface conventions. As far as designers are concerned 
HTML5 is a *competitor* to these technologies. If you cannot compete in 
terms of features and ease of use you'll end up with a proprietary web.

In summary then:

Is global href going to create bad layouts?
Depends. Skilled UI designers can improve their layouts - bad designers 
can make theirs worse.

Is global href a burden on browser vendors?
Unlikely. It's behaviour is nearly identical to 
onclick="window.location=foo" which is already supported on the majority 
of modern browsers except Lynx.

Is denying designers features they want going to increase standards 
No. It will reduce compliance.


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