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

Adrian Sutton adrian.sutton at ephox.com
Thu Apr 29 02:47:58 PDT 2010

On 29 Apr 2010, at 10:34, Steve Dennis wrote:
> 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.

This is certainly true, but it lends support for both the old and the new models working in tandem.  Essentially there are two key use-cases for content management systems:

1. Authors being able to easily create content items.  As you note above, h1-h6 makes far more sense to authors than invisible section elements and are far easier to apply correctly. Essentially content authors expect things to work roughly like Microsoft Word which the old model of headings does and so they generally get it right (especially if you disable the ability to add inline font size styles so they can't build a heading look-a-like manually).

2. The CMS needs to be able to assemble various content items in fairly arbitrary ways but still get a sensible heading structure in the result.  The section element and the new heading model is an ideal solution for this case.

A planet aggregator is a good example of this in action - each blog post is an entity to itself so would use headings starting at H1, but when aggregated the headings should start at H2 (or 3 or 4 depending on what else is on the aggregated page).  So the blog author writes the post using H1-H6 because it's easy (or section if they prefer) and the aggregator simply wraps each blog post in a <section> so the resulting heading structure still works.

As I understand it, while the spec recommends using only H1 if you're using sections, it's still valid and well defined to use h1-h6 along with section.


Adrian Sutton.
Adrian Sutton, CTO
UK: +44 1 628 353 032  US: +1 (650) 292 9659 x717
Ephox http://www.ephox.com/
Ephox Blogs http://people.ephox.com/, Personal Blog http://www.symphonious.net/

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.whatwg.org/pipermail/whatwg-whatwg.org/attachments/20100429/767e7019/attachment-0002.htm>

More information about the whatwg mailing list