[uf-new] Navigation Menu and "Standard Web Page" microformats

Paul R. Bohman pbohman at gmu.edu
Fri Feb 9 14:14:52 PST 2007

On 2/9/07, Edward O'Connor <hober0 at gmail.com> wrote:

> I think a more generic attempt to make a
> microformat for "basic structure of common pages" might run awry of the
> process, because there usually is a standard element or compound of
> standard elements that do the trick.

Sort of. There are certainly unordered or ordered lists for navigation
elements, but there might also be lists that aren't navigation
elements. There are microformats for parts of pages with certain types
of content, which is great, but it doesn't provide an "outline" of the
whole page, which is what I'm after.

Sighted people look at the whole web page and subconsciously organize
it into sections. They can see the main logo and other components that
make up the site's identity. They can see the main navigation, and
they can see the main content. It probably takes less than a second
for most people to do this visually, and they direct their vision to
the part of the page that they're most interested in at that moment.

Blind users don't have that luxury. But if their screen readers could
give them a quick list of page components -- header, navigation, main
content, footer -- they could achieve almost the same level of "quick
overview" that sighted users take for granted.

> In those cases where there aren't current elements or element compounds,
> I don't think a microformat is necessary where you could simply base
> your choice of class names, structure, etc., on the new elements
> introduced by HTML5:

HTML 5 will be great when there is such a thing, but in the spirit of
microformats that work *now* rather than in some distant point in the
future, wouldn't it be nice to have this sort of functionality
available today?

It would be a microformat with an expiration date: when HTML 5 is the
common standard on the web, the microformat would fade away into
obsolescence. But in the meantime, it will have served its purpose. It
certainly wouldn't break anything, and it provide a bridge between the
old and the new.

Realistically, it will be many years before developers can assume that
everyone is using HTML 5, right? Maybe 5 years. Maybe a decade. Nobody
knows, but it won't be a quick transition.

Paul R. Bohman
Faculty, College of Education & Human Development
Lead Architect of Web Services, Office of Technology Support
Technology Coordinator, Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities
George Mason University

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