[whatwg] A plea to Hixie to adopt <main>

Cory Sand yrocsand at gmail.com
Fri Dec 14 04:25:48 PST 2012

I don't know if this is relevant at all, but according to the spec
(section 4.4.1), "The body element represents the main content of the
document." What would you say is the relation between this use of the
term "main" and your use of the term here? Might it perhaps be more
accurate to state, "The body element represents the *entire* content
of the document" (or something like that). I don't really know -- just

On Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 8:22 PM, Tantek Çelik <tantek at cs.stanford.edu> wrote:
> This was meant to follow-up to Henri's message[1]:
> [1] http://lists.whatwg.org/pipermail/whatwg-whatwg.org/2012-December/038219.html
> but for some reason that didn't make it to my archives so I'm replying
> to the latest message on this thread that did.
> tl;dr: Having previously opposed the addition of a main element, I've
> been convinced by the arguments (and counter-counter-arguments) and
> evidence presented[1] that it's worth adding <main> to HTML.
> I'm a strong advocate of being conservative of adding new elements to
> HTML. Every element we add has a cost (in maintenance, learning etc.)
> and perhaps increasingly so. That's the "high bar" that has been
> referenced that has to be met - a new element must provide advantages
> outweighing the cost to all of us of adding a new element. In
> particular I am thinking of the cost to authors/developers of
> continuing to grow HTML and its complexity.
> <aside>
> If anything I think I've grown more conservative regarding new
> elements in this regard based on experience teaching authors. I used
> to support <hgroup>, and though while I personally find it useful in
> content, I no longer find its addition useful enough for authors in
> general to overcome the confusion it adds. Similarly with <section>
> (which appears to be turning into an alias for <div>). IMO the outline
> algorithm is dead and we could simplify HTML by dropping these two.
> </aside>
> There has been a lot of reference to previous threads (on this list,
> other lists, etc.) and at some point it becomes useless to say "go
> search the mail archives" because no one has time follow all the
> meandering threads.
> I've written up a wiki page documenting what I believe to be
> sufficient arguments to add the <main> element, along with arguments
> against that I've heard and rebuttals, as well as counter-proposals
> made along with flaws in counter-proposals:
> http://wiki.whatwg.org/wiki/Main_element
> Contributions/corrections/citations welcome, both for *and* against <main>.
> From discussions I've seen there appears to be a growing implementer
> consensus that adding a <main> element helps more than it hurts and
> thus I expect to see it happen.
> However, I still think adding main is fully supported on principle
> (rather than just on browser-implementation-Hixie-veto-override) and
> thus I'm interested in capturing that on the wiki page so that
> hopefully we can learn from this analysis about adding a new element
> and use those lessons when considering new elements in the future.
> Thanks,
> Tantek

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