Results of Questionnaire ISSUE-93: Removing the details Element - Straw Poll for Objections

The results of this questionnaire are available to anybody.

This questionnaire was open from 2010-05-12 to 2010-05-19.

8 answers have been received.

Jump to results for question:

  1. Objections to the Change Proposal to Remove the details Element
  2. Objections to the Change Proposal to Keep New Elements and Attributes

1. Objections to the Change Proposal to Remove the details Element

We have a Change Proposal to remove the details element. If you have strong objections to adopting this Change Proposal, please state your objections below.

Keep in mind, you must actually state an objection, not merely cite someone else. If you feel that your objection has already been adequately addressed by someone else, then it is not necessary to repeat it.


Responder Objections to the Change Proposal to Remove the details Element
Leif Halvard Silli
Larry Masinter
Benoit Piette
David Singer - The "disclosure triangle" or "accordion" pattern of extra information or controls that is initially hidden but can optionally be exposed, is a common and useful UI idiom in both native applications and web apps - ranging from simple forms-based apps to rich interactive applications. HTML5 should serve this idiom directly.
- Disclosure triangles are one of the basic control types supported on both Mac OS X and iPhone OS. They are part of a complete modern UI toolkit. HTML5 should serve applications by providing a complete set of fundamental controls.
- The "HTML5 Superfriends" group of Web standards experts supports the <details> element, demonstrating support in the authoring community.
- Semantic elements lead to improved accessibility. The HTML WG Accessibility Task Force has endorsed the <details> element and opposed the call to remove it.
- Implementors of multiple browser engines, including WebKit, Gecko and Presto, have expressed interest in implementing this element.

Given the interest from authors, implementors and the accessibility community in keeping it, the <details> element should not be removed.
Cynthia Shelly HTML was designed as a language for describing documents, but it is being used as a language for building user interface. As such, it is missing many of the primatives needed for user interface. This has caused authors to build their own interface elements, each slightly different, and many missing quality requirements (including accessibility). To advance high quality, consistent web-based applications, we need to move as many of these as possible into HTML and into browsers. These elements with built-in behavior are one of the most important advances in HTML 5, and must be retained.

Details codifies a very common user interface widget, which has been implemented in countless different ways on different sites. It is a good example of the sort of new built-in behavior that is needed to improve the experience of web applications, including the experience for users with disabilities and anyone who needs their user agent to be able to modify the rendering of interactive controls.
Jonas Sicking I object to removing the <details> element as it would result in missing out of the positive effects listed in http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/KeepNewElements#Positive_Effects

My experience working with web authors for several years is that they tend to do what is easy, whereas accessibility often ends up coming second due to time constraints and unawareness.

By including the semantic <details> element, we both make it easier for developers to do what they want, since they'll need to use less markup and script, while automatically getting a good accessibility story.

The change proposal to remove <details> seems to have no solution for what HTML editors like nvu or dreamweaver should do, making it impossible for such tools to properly support the functionality that <detail>s supplies. At least without resorting to hacks that don't work in a cross-editor manner.

Finally, I think it's very unlikely that as many people would add proper ARIA attributes, as would use the <details> element. I think this is the reason that the WAI-ARIA specification encourages developers of markup languages to add semantic elements and explicitly declares ARIA as a bridge technology. I also think this is why the HTML Accessibility TF has endorsed the <details> element.
Laura Carlson
Krzysztof Maczy&#324;ski 1. The CP argues that the same functionality is readily available with scripting (most notably in multiple libraries). I'm strongly against applying this reasoning in designing declarative markup languages (which leads me to being somewhat against this particular CP).

2. The CP and ISSUE's statement propose that dynamic behaviour (and even hiding anything - but that's far fetched and suggests an oversight of display: none in CSS and similar possibilities when writing the CP) shouldn't be possible without scripting. Declaratrive markup languages already offer it (e.g. XForms, SMIL), so the bridge has been crossed. And it's a good thing because on the Web arbitrary interaction with content is the norm, unlike in traditional media.

Note that this element needs much work and I reserve the right to opt for its removal if this work doesn't yield satisfactory results by the time to publish LC. In particular, styling model needs to be defined consistently, the whole approach to boolean attributes is questionable, naming of summary should probably be revisited and whether it makes sense to have it as any child, not necessarily the first.

2. Objections to the Change Proposal to Keep New Elements and Attributes

We have a Change Proposal to keep several newly-introduced semantic elements, attributes, and controls. If you have strong objections to adopting this Change Proposal specifically with respect to the details element, please state your objections below.

Keep in mind, you must actually state an objection, not merely cite someone else. If you feel that your objection has already been adequately addressed by someone else, then it is not necessary to repeat it.


Responder Objections to the Change Proposal to Keep New Elements and Attributes
Leif Halvard Silli Long version: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010May/0010
Shorter version:


<figure> and <details> are not fully baked. <figure> and <details> are apparently considered as such good *ideas*, that the ideas are considered worth more than a high quality and straight forward/simple implementation of those ideas.

Caption related reasons to object:

The caption issue has been the main problem all along (and the editor many times postponed the entire issue). And we have ended up with an ad-hoc and expensive solution: two caption elements with unclear vs. overclear links to their parent elemetns.

<details> and <figure> are quite similar elements. They should at best have been able to reuse table's <caption> element as their own caption (and if we took our time, I'm sure we could do that, despite the Webkit hurdles). But as a second best, the should have had one and the same caption element. As it stands, then <summary> is not in any whatsoever way especially fit as a name for the caption of <details> - there is no semantic or logical link between the word "summary" and <details> any more than there is between "summary" and <figure>. And <figcaption> is a very untraditional element name for html - it's odd. Other optiosn have been <label>, <legend>, <dt>. And also <dd> as child body element. The current solution looks more as a reaction to the problem that we couldn't use <dt> and <dd>, than a pleasing quality solution.

The name of the caption is such an important feature of both elements, that it will hamper the take up of them. Not every <figure> may need a caption. But the caption is still a core to the very figure concept.

Design related reasons to object:

Neither <figure> nor <details> can be used inline - e.g. inside a <p> element. Thus there is no way to create captions e.g. for inline images. One can of course use wrap an inline image inside a <span> and use ARIA etc. However one of the argumetns for keeping <figure> as is, is that one may then avoid using ARIA ... I have filed bugs about the <object> element, so that it can be used as a container for <figure> or <details> .... But that also requires that <object> is permitted used more like in HTML4 ... The defends of <figure> as it stands, have shown no interest in this problem - as far as I have noticed.

<details> also seems to "eat" from other elements. I concur with Benoit Piette (http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010May/0006) in that the details behavior should rather be integrated into existing elements. <details> looks like an "easy way out" when the author is unable to get e.g. a <dl> list to behave in a <details> alike way.

Not sure how crucial *this* is but, <figure> will also "compete" with <dl> - what's the advantage over <dl><dt>caption<dd>content</dl>?


1. I question whether the long term issues have been given enough thought when it comes to the choice of caption element(s)
2. Figure and Details are far less generic than it may seem on the sureface due to their inability to be used inline.
3. <details> seems like a teaser that may get authors to use it purely for the behavior. (Remember <blink> anyone ...)
4. Regarding 1., 2. and 3.: I fail to see the over all goals behind the creation of <figure> and <details>. If we had concrete goals, then we could have compared and decided if 1., 2. and 3. was in line with the the reasons why we started to work on <figure> and <details> in the first place.

I therefore recommend that we take <details> and <figure> out of HTML5 for now, with the prmise to look at them again. We should also write up more detailed the goals with these elements, and be open to take them back in, once we see that they can fulfil what we want them to fulfill.
Larry Masinter (see objection on ISSUE-90; lack of transition plan and unambiguous support at this point => remove to allow HTML5 to reach rec realistically).
Benoit Piette My objections are fully expressed in the following thread : http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010May/0006.html

In summary, the semantic parts of details are confusing and can be redundant with other structural elements. In fact, when an "activate to show" behavior must be added to an already structured document, you will end up with "double semantics" (of which the details part is weaker). Also, not enough is said on how the default behavior and presentation can be overridden.

David Singer
Cynthia Shelly
Jonas Sicking
Laura Carlson Rationale is at:
Krzysztof Maczy&#324;ski

More details on responses

  • Leif Halvard Silli: last responded on 13, May 2010 at 02:26 (UTC)
  • Larry Masinter: last responded on 13, May 2010 at 20:51 (UTC)
  • Benoit Piette: last responded on 16, May 2010 at 19:48 (UTC)
  • David Singer: last responded on 18, May 2010 at 18:34 (UTC)
  • Cynthia Shelly: last responded on 18, May 2010 at 18:38 (UTC)
  • Jonas Sicking: last responded on 19, May 2010 at 18:57 (UTC)
  • Laura Carlson: last responded on 20, May 2010 at 01:25 (UTC)
  • Krzysztof Maczy&#324;ski: last responded on 20, May 2010 at 02:24 (UTC)

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