[whatwg] Please consider making <summary> more generic/flexible (or renaming)

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Wed Aug 25 14:43:17 PDT 2010

On Tue, 3 Aug 2010, Tantek Ã~Gelik wrote:
> The name of the <summary> element however is too generic sounding of an 
> element name for this special usage.

I don't see why that's a problem.

> It is inevitable that people will begin using the <summary> element when 
> they simply mean a semantic "summary", perhaps of a <section> or 
> <article>.

If that happens, they'll get validator errors.

If it happens so much that the meaning of the element de-facto changes, 
then we can change the spec.

However, I think it's premature to assume it'll happen.

> I say inevitable due to the broad evidence presented by the known 
> existing problem with the <address> element (special use - for contact 
> information for the document, but used and often errantly taught as a 
> generic "address" for street addresses).

<address>, while often thought to be generic, is actually _used_ correctly 
quite a lot of the time it is used at all -- and that's without any help 
from validators. If anything, I think we should take this as a good sign. 
(If I recall correctly based on my research a few years back, <address> is 
used wrongly less often than, say, <blockquote>, and less often than <ul> 
even in cases where the validator complains of such misuse.)

> Thus we should either:
> Rename the details <summary> to something more specific (suggestions 
> welcome), OR:

If there is a radically better name then we should consider it, but given 
the number of times this has changed names already, and the high political 
cost of changing it again (the W3C HTML WG has "decided" on the name 
"summary"), it would really have to be _radically_ better.

> Alternatively make the <summary> element generic. Make it an actual 
> summary inside <article> or <body>, as well as inside <details>. Allow 
> <summary> anywhere <header> is allowed (basically, make it a part of the 
> new section related elements).

What's the use case? What problem does this solve?

Doing this would actually break use of <summary> in <details>, by the way, 
since there'd no longer be a way to recognise the legend of the <details> 
from the first summary of the implied section in <details> (or it would be 
very confusing, with the first <summary> having a different functional 
meaning than the second).

Really I wish we could just use <legend>, personally, but that ship has 
unfortunately sailed.

On Tue, 3 Aug 2010, Andrew Hayward wrote:
> In a somewhat related note, following a real-world conversation I had
> with Jeremy Keith a short while ago, is there a reason why <summary>
> (or the theoretical renamed less generic alternative) isn't being used
> inside <figure>s too, instead of another new element (<figcaption>)?
> At the time Jeremy wasn't able to give me an answer, but if it's
> already been discussed and I just missed it, my apologies.

<summary> didn't seem to convey the right meaning for <figure>'s legend.

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

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