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

Ojan Vafai ojan at chromium.org
Wed Nov 7 08:52:13 PST 2012

On Wed, Nov 7, 2012 at 6:23 AM, Simon Pieters <simonp at opera.com> wrote:

> My impression from TPAC is that implementors are on board with the idea of
> adding <main> to HTML, and we're left with Hixie objecting to it.

For those of use who couldn't make it, which browser vendors voiced
support? I assume Opera since you're writing this thread.

Hixie's argument is, I think, that the use case that <main> is intended to
> address is already possible by applying the Scooby-Doo algorithm, as James
> put it -- remove all elements that are not main content, <header>, <aside>,
> etc., and you're left with the main content.
> I think the Scooby-Doo algorithm is a heuristic that is not reliable
> enough in practice, since authors are likely to put stuff outside the main
> content that do not get filtered out by the algorithm, and vice versa.
> Implementations that want to support a "go to main content" or "highlight
> the main content", like Safari's Reader Mode, or whatever it's called, need
> to have various heuristics for detecting the main content, and is expected
> to work even for pages that don't use any of the new elements. However, I
> think using <main> as a way to opt out of the heuristic works better than
> using <aside> to opt out of the heuristic. For instance, it seems
> reasonable to use <aside> for a pull-quote as part of the main content, and
> you don't want that to be excluded, but the Scooby-Doo algorithm does that.
> If there is anyone besides from Hixie who objects to adding <main>, it
> would be useful to hear it.

This idea doesn't seem to address any pressing use-cases. I don't expect
authors to use it as intended consistently enough for it to be useful in
practice for things like Safari's Reader mode. You're stuck needing to use
something like the Scooby-Doo algorithm most of the time anyways. I don't
outright object, but I think our time would be better spent on addressing
more pressing problems with the web platform.

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