[whatwg] maincontent element spec updated and supporting data provided

Ian Yang ian at invigoreight.com
Tue Oct 16 19:17:43 PDT 2012

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the great research effort on the main content element.

Like the succinct and simple name of complementary content (<aside>), could
we make the element name of the main content as succinct as <aside>? For
instance, <main>?

Since the complementary content (<aside>) is a sectioning element, could we
make the main content element a sectioning element, too?

Kind Regards,
Ian Yang

On Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 8:03 AM, Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hi all,
> I have updated the <maincontent> spec [1] and would appreciate any feedback
> (including, but not limited to implementers).
> In the process of developing the <maincontent> element spec [1] I looked at
> data from a number of sources [3] on frequency of usage  of id values to
> indicate the main content area of a web page.
> I  also used data [2] I gathered in April 2012 based on a URL list of the
> top 10,000 most popular web sites.
> In preparing the data [2] I subsetted the total usable HTML documents
> (approx 8900 pages - the home pages for sites in the top 10,000 URLs list )
> by searching for the use of the HTML5 doctype (approx 1545 pages). I
> figured that documents using the HTML5 doctype would provide the freshest
> code.
> What is apparent from the home page data in the sample:
> *  use of a descriptive id to value to identify the main content area of a
> web page is common. (id="main"|id="content"|id="
> maincontent"|id="content-main"|id="main-content" used on 39% of the pages
> in the sample [2])
>  * There is a strong correlation between use of ARIA role='main' [5] on an
> element with id values of 'content' or 'main' or permutations. (when used =
> 101 pages)  77% were on an element with id values of 'content' or 'main' or
> permutations.
> * There is a strong correlation between use of id values of 'content' or
> 'main' or permutations as targets for 'skip to content'/'skip to main
> content' links (when used = 67 pages) 78% of skip link targets # were
> elements with id values of 'content' or 'main' or permutations.
> * There appears to be a strong correlation in the identification of content
> areas (with id values of 'content' or 'main' or permutations.) as what is
> described in the spec as appropriate content to be contained with a
> <maincontent> element [1]:
> "The maincontent element
> represents<http://dev.w3.org/html5/spec/rendering.html#represents>the
> main
> content section of the body of a document or application. The main content
> section consists of content that is directly related to or expands upon the
> central topic of a document or central functionality of an application.
> ...
> The main content section of a document includes content that is unique to
> that document and excludes content that is repeated across a set of
> documents such as site navigation links, copyright information, site logos
> and banners and search forms (unless the document or applications main
> function is that of a search form)."
> I have prepared approx 440 sample pages [4] from the same URL set with CSS
> to outline and identify use of container elements with id values of
> 'content' and/or 'main' and role=main, these samples can be used to
> visually assess how closely the spec definition of maincontent matches the
> reality of element usage with the stated id values.
> [1]
> https://dvcs.w3.org/hg/html-extensions/raw-file/tip/maincontent/index.html
> [2]
> http://www.paciellogroup.com/blog/2012/04/html5-accessibility-chops-data-for-the-masses/
> [3] http://triin.net/2006/06/12/CSS#figure-34,
> http://westciv.typepad.com/dog_or_higher/2005/11/real_world_sema.html,
> http://dev.opera.com/articles/view/mama-common-attributes/#id
> note: The first link in each list item links to the original page the
> second link prefixed with "copy" is the same page with the CSS added.
> [4] http://www.html5accessibility.com/tests/HTML5-main-content/
> [5] http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria/roles#main
> --
> with regards
> Steve Faulkner
> Technical Director - TPG
> www.paciellogroup.com | www.HTML5accessibility.com |
> www.twitter.com/stevefaulkner
> HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives -
> dev.w3.org/html5/alt-techniques/
> Web Accessibility Toolbar -
> www.paciellogroup.com/resources/wat-ie-about.html

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