The 'view-mode' Media Feature

W3C Recommendation 19 June 2012

This version:
Latest published version:
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Robin Berjon, Robineko
Marcos Cáceres, Data.Driven

The English version of this specification is the only normative version. Non-normative translations may also be available. Please refer to the errata for this document, which may include some normative corrections.


This specification defines a media feature to match the different visual presentation modes that can be applied to web applications and thereby apply different styling based on these different modes using CSS Media Queries [MEDIAQ].

Status of This Document

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. A list of current W3C publications and the latest revision of this technical report can be found in the W3C technical reports index at http://www.w3.org/TR/.

This document has been reviewed by W3C Members, by software developers, and by other W3C groups and interested parties, and is endorsed by the Director as a W3C Recommendation. It is a stable document and may be used as reference material or cited from another document. W3C's role in making the Recommendation is to draw attention to the specification and to promote its widespread deployment. This enhances the functionality and interoperability of the Web.

This document was published by the Web Applications WG as a Recommendation. If you wish to make comments regarding this document, please send them to public-webapps@w3.org (subscribe, archives). All feedback is welcome.

An implementation report is available.

This document was produced by a group operating under the 5 February 2004 W3C Patent Policy. W3C maintains a public list of any patent disclosures made in connection with the deliverables of the group; that page also includes instructions for disclosing a patent. An individual who has actual knowledge of a patent which the individual believes contains Essential Claim(s) must disclose the information in accordance with section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy.

This document is identical to the Proposed Recommendation, with the exception of the front matter.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

This section is non-normative.

Web applications, be they widgets or in-browser, can on most platforms be run in multiple visual modes. At times they may occupy the entire screen, at others they may be minimized to a specific docking area; at times they may have chrome that matches the operating system's style while at others they may be providing their own controls in order to provide for a more immersive experience.

The user is generally in control of at least several aspects of these modalities, and it is therefore important for authors to be able to react to these in order to provide different styling to their applications. In order to achieve this, this specification defines a media feature that allows different CSS style rules to be applied depending on whether a given media query [MEDIAQ] matches.

1.1 Design Goals and Requirements

This section is non-normative.

The design goals and requirements for this specification are documented in the Requirements for Standardizing Widgets [WIDGETS-REQS].

This document addresses one requirement from "User Experience":

  1. Display Modes

2. Conformance

As well as sections marked as non-normative, all authoring guidelines, diagrams, examples, and notes in this specification are non-normative. Everything else in this specification is normative.

The key words must, must not, required, should, should not, recommended, may, and optional in this specification are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

This specification defines conformance criteria that apply to a single product: user agents that implement the view modes that it contains.

3. Security considerations

An application could be designed to trick users into performing actions they do not wish to or to capture data that they did not intend to provide. Examples of situations in which the user could be tricked include, but are not limited to:

Implementers are encouraged to take these issues into consideration and to provide limitations to what a Web application may do in order to ensure that the user is exposed to minimal risk.

4. Definitions

View mode
The view mode is the manner in which a Web application is presented to a user that corresponds to the metaphors and functionalities in use on a given platform. This specification defines a number of view modes that a user agent is expected to match to comparable platform-specific situations.
The chrome comprises the visible parts of the user agent that do not depend on the content (e.g. window decorations, tool bars, title bars, menus).
A user interface is said to be immersive when its controls and components are created to match the specific style of the application instead of using the chrome and widgets of the platform.
Media feature
The term media feature is defined in [MEDIAQ].
Screen area
The area of the screen that is generally available for applications, excluding parts that the system generally keeps to itself (e.g. a bar at the top for menus, time, or context, or at the bottom with a list of running applications).
Web application
A Web application is an application built and shipped using Web technology that may be running inside of a browser, as a widget, or in another type of container designed for this purpose.
The term widget is defined in [WIDGETS].
The term viewport is defined in [CSS21].

5. The 'view-mode' media feature

The view-mode media feature describes the mode in which the Web application is being shown as a running application on the platform.

windowed | floating | fullscreen | maximized | minimized
Applies to:
visual media types
Accepts min/max prefixes:

A user agent should make a best-effort attempt at matching the great variety of platform conventions in which it may be running a Web application to the list of view modes defined in this specification so that the view-mode media feature may describe common situations in a manner that is useful to authors. Each view mode is defined to be exclusive of the others.

5.1 View modes

The view-mode media feature accepts the following enumerated values:

Describes a Web application running in a windowed manner, which is to say with chrome and without occupying the entire screen area.
Describes a Web application providing a more immersive interface, running in a windowed manner but without chrome, and with the viewport's initial background being transparent such that other system items (other applications, the display's background...) can be seen through parts of the viewport that are not being painted to.
Describes a Web application that is occupying the entirety of the display, including the parts normally excluded from the screen area (e.g. a fullscreen video) and without any chrome.
Describes a Web application that is occupying the entirety of the screen area but with chrome.
Describes a Web application docked or otherwise minimized, but with a dynamic graphical representation being available nevertheless (i.e. the application isn't entirely hidden, or maybe its icon is still shown and it has control over what it contains). This may correspond for instance to a thumbnail of the application's content being shown.

5.2 Examples

A simple example in CSS:

@media handheld and (view-mode: floating) and (orientation: landscape) {
  // ...
@media tv and (view-mode: windowed) {
  // ...
@media handheld and (view-mode: fullscreen) {
  // ...

6. Acknowledgements

This section is non-normative.

Daniel Herzog, Arve Bersvendsen, Arthur Barstow, Jochen Cichon, Sebastian Markbåge, Cameron McCormack, David Rogers, Richard Tibbett, Scott Wilson, Boris Zbarsky, Kenneth Christiansen, Daniel Glazman, Tab Atkins Jr, Josh Soref, Marcin Hanclik, the CSS WG.

A. References

A.1 Normative references

Media Queries. W3C.
Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels. IETF.

A.2 Informative references

Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 Revision 1 (CSS 2.1) Specification.. W3C.
Widget Packaging and XML Configuration. W3C.
Requirements For Standardizing Widgets.. W3C WG Note.