[whatwg] Headings and sections, role of H2-H6

Steve Dennis admin at subcide.com
Thu Apr 29 02:34:57 PDT 2010

On 29/04/2010, at 10:18 AM, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:

> Backwards compatibility - browsers, authoring tools, screen-scraping tools that syndicate content, User Style Sheets to improve readability, Assistive technologies, are all built today on the basis that different levels of headings imply sectioning and subsectioning, whereas almost no tools currently implement the new model.
> It is true that the old model isn't ideal, especially for documents so large and complex that they have more than half a dozen levels of content. But up to that arbitrary limit, the current approach more or less works in practice. It would be trivial to extend it to 9 levels by adding more elements, and people could be expected to understand how that works and upgrade their tools without re-implementing the algorithms. Going further would require them to pick the difference between one- and two-digit numbers, and the Web shows that (surprisingly) this is often too hard for coders to get right, so there would be some period of brokenness still.
> My conclusion is that the old model might just be a better bet for continuing - on the basis that it is good enough (we can define the algorithm that people already implement as easily as defining the section algorithm) and the cost of the change might not be worth the benefit it is expected to bring.

The other thing to take into consideration is Content Management Systems.  The <section> model, while technically a much better document model, will be much much harder for things such as rich text editors to implement I would imagine.  Due to sections often being visually invisible, the nesting of invisible elements can get unmanageable and broken very easily if clients with little understanding of the document model (probably 99% of them) are editing their own content via WYSIWYG a lot.   The non-nested system of the <h1> - <h6> is much easier due to being single tags with no nesting, and every element being visually distinct.

Steve Dennis

>> In that scenario isn't using just H1 throughout decidedly preferable to using H2-H6?  And if so, then as long as authors are being strongly encouraged to mark up headings a certain way, wouldn't it be ideal to state a clear preference for using H1 throughout and include a third code example, indicated as the ideal:
> ...
> IMHO, of course
> cheers
> Chaals
> -- 
> Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
>    je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
> http://my.opera.com/chaals       Try Opera: http://www.opera.com

More information about the whatwg mailing list