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Thread: Access Keys

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    Access Keys

    Do people use access keys and if so do you use them for every link on your website or just for the main pages like home,products,contact us etc.

    Are they a feature that people like??? Do people use them??

    A lot of questions but its a subject that I am unsure whether to use or not.

    Cheers

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    You definitely shouldn't use access keys for every link. If you're going to use them at all, use them only for important stuff.
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    SitePoint Zealot c.t.c.'s Avatar
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    One problem with access keys is that there are few, if any, user agents that tell your page visitors what the access keys for the page are. Usually, you have to indicate an access key in a title attribute or in the text of the page itself.

    Another problem is that there are no standards for key assignments. It's possible that your access keys can interfere with existing keyboard functions.

    For these reasons, I haven't used them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by c.t.c. View Post
    One problem with access keys is that there are few, if any, user agents that tell your page visitors what the access keys for the page are.
    Opera does (from version 9.0 and up). Press Shift+Esc to display a list of all access keys defined in the current document.
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    SitePoint Zealot c.t.c.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    Opera does (from version 9.0 and up). Press Shift+Esc to display a list of all access keys defined in the current document.
    Very cool. Opera's always a step ahead.

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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    I think there is a problem with access keys, in that every browser has a different implementation, and you don't know what could clash with the browsers' own shortcuts. The WCAG Samurai recommends you don't use access keys at all, it is the user agent's job to provide keyboard navigation, not the website author's - and most modern browsers do have perfectly good keyboard navigation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stormrider View Post
    I think there is a problem with access keys, in that every browser has a different implementation
    That, in itself, is not a major problem. Most people don't use several different browsers; they stick to one. We who work with web design and developent are different.
    Off Topic:

    My apologies for the weird alliteration in that sentence!


    Quote Originally Posted by Stormrider View Post
    and you don't know what could clash with the browsers' own shortcuts.
    Not really a problem, either. One could argue that it's up to the user to choose a browser whose implementation of access key … er … access … doesn't cause that sort of problems. Opera's way is quite safe, and I think Firefox/Win now uses Shift+Alt which ought to be safe as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stormrider View Post
    The WCAG Samurai recommends you don't use access keys at all
    I tend to agree with them, although the main reason for my negative attitude with respect to access keys is the utter lack of standardisation. It's a lot to ask that users learn a new set of access keys for every site. Opera's solution of displaying a list does alleviate the problem, of course. And CSS2-compliant browsers that support user style sheets offers another solution for DIY'ers:
    Code CSS:
    [accesskey]:after {color:#f00; content:"<" attr(accesskey) ">"}

    Quote Originally Posted by Stormrider View Post
    it is the user agent's job to provide keyboard navigation
    Yes, but a browser can't know which links and/or form fields are important enough to warrant extra quick access.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stormrider View Post
    most modern browsers do have perfectly good keyboard navigation.
    I don't fully agree with you there. Most browsers provide only awkward, linear keyboard navigation (tabbing). The only browser I know of that provides really usable keyboard navigation is Opera (especially its spatial navigation). It's one of the main reasons that's my favourite browser, in fact.
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    SitePoint Enthusiast headless1226's Avatar
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    Wow autistic great posts, I never knew about the shortcut in opera to highlight access keys, very cool!

    One question though what is the navigation system you are speaking of on opera? I am unaware of it?
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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    I think you just hold down shift and use the arrow keys.

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    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    I keep hearing that Opera is the best. I think I better go get it.

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    Smile

    Opera is little ahead in terms of accessibility features. People do use Access Key. For a large dynamic site, its better to use Access Key only for Main navigation.

    Listed below is recommended UK Government access keys standard:
    S - Skip navigation
    1 - Home page
    2 - What's new
    3 - Site map
    4 - Search
    5 - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
    6 - Help
    7 - Complaints procedure
    8 - Terms and conditions
    9 - Feedback form
    0 - Access key details

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    Quote Originally Posted by headless1226 View Post
    One question though what is the navigation system you are speaking of on opera? I am unaware of it?
    In Opera, the Tab and Shift+Tab keys only navigate between form fields, by default. That's very useful, because you can jump straight to the search form on most pages by simply pressing Tab once.

    To navigate between links in a linear fashion (like Tab in most other browsers), you can use Ctrl+DownArrow and Ctrl+UpArrow. In versions prior to 9.5 you used A and Q instead, and those shortcuts can be enabled in newer versions as well. That also lets you use S and W to navigate between headings or D and E to navigate to any HTML element.

    The most useful feature, however, is Opera's spatial navigation. The Shift key plus any arrow key lets you navigate between links and form fields in two dimensions. You don't have to press Tab 50 times to get past a left-hand navigation menu; just press Shift+RightArrow to move into the content area.
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    Quote Originally Posted by c.t.c. View Post
    Another problem is that there are no standards for key assignments. It's possible that your access keys can interfere with existing keyboard functions.
    That is why I never use them. They can cause more problems than they are worth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by c.t.c. View Post
    Another problem is that there are no standards for key assignments. It's possible that your access keys can interfere with existing keyboard functions.
    This is the reason why Firefox 3 on Windows changed access keys to shift-alt-# so that it didn't interfere with things like formatting keys (ctrl-#) and browser controls (alt-#). While there is a possibility for collision, it is definitively less when you add another key modifier. Its one of the reasons why I haven't edited FF3's configuration to use the old alt-# assignment for accesss keys. I use some access keys a lot like alt-shift-s in vBulletin forums to submit a post.

    Hopefully other browsers realize that the number of actual usable keys on a keyboard is finite and adopt this solution as well. It would help legitimize this useful feature.
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    SitePoint Guru Chroniclemaster1's Avatar
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    As always, Opera is ahead.

    I still agree with Stormrider. It's impossible for someone to learn an entirely new navigation scheme on every website you visit. If UK or anyone can set up a standard that would be awesome. Then...

    1) We can design our websites to the standard and there wouldn't be a million different Access key combos running around.

    and

    2) The access keys wouldn't conflict with anything else because everyone would recognize them as THE access keys. No programmer, developer, or designer would use them because they'd know it would create conflicts; just like nobody writes a program or website that requires Ctrl+Alt+Del.

    Until this gets a little more developed though I'm not using access keys. Tab index yes, but access keys no.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chroniclemaster1 View Post
    2) The access keys wouldn't conflict with anything else because everyone would recognize them as THE access keys.
    Yeah, but there are only one or two characters that aren't used as accelerators in any language variant of any browser. And those characters are quite difficult to produce with some keyboard layouts.

    The standard used in the UK Government's standard (which is also used in the Swedish national guidelines for public sector websites) causes problems, since it uses digits as access keys. In IE/Win, for instance, where you active access keys with Alt, that means you can't enter special characters using Alt+NNNN on the numeric keypad. A person named Renée Muñoz would then be unable to enter her name on a standard UK or US keyboard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chroniclemaster1 View Post
    Tab index yes, but access keys no.
    Tab index is evil. It's far worse than access keys in my opinion.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

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    Tab index is evil. It's far worse than access keys in my opinion.
    Yeah, I can only imagine updating 100 form fields

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    SitePoint Guru Chroniclemaster1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    Tab index is evil. It's far worse than access keys in my opinion.
    Funny! OK, so what's the case against tab index?

    And granted I don't build mega forms like Cooper.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chroniclemaster1 View Post
    Funny! OK, so what's the case And granted I don't build mega forms like Cooper.
    Doesn't even have to be mega forms. I will explain my reasoning.

    Say you were to build a form(10 fields - not to big), and it is passed down to other developers to maintain. If they do not know what 'tab index' is and add on to the list, then the order will be incorrect. Also, most people even that know, do not want to change the ordering every time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chroniclemaster1 View Post
    OK, so what's the case against tab index?
    It's an indication that you have written your HTML to suit your presentational needs, rather than the other way round. With well-written HTML everything comes in a logical order and there's no need for changing the tab index.

    Changing the tabbing sequence is likely to confuse many users, if the tab order is significantly different from the visual order.

    Also, if you set tabindex for a few elements, some browsers will only allow tabbing to those elements (IIRC). That's a major accessibility problem.

    There's no need for changing the tab index, unless you're using tables for layout …
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    Makes sense...

    Well if there is no sequential order as you said, this could confuse the user. For example:

    Code:
    <!-- Newly added form field -Test 3- -->
    <label for="test3">Test 3</label>
    <input type="text" name="test3" id="test3" /><br />
    
    <label for="test1">Test 1</label>
    <input type="text" name="test1" id="test1" tabindex="1" /><br />
    
    <label for="test2">Test 2</label>
    <input type="text" name="test2" id="test2" tabindex="2" />
    So the newly added test 3 ruins the sequential ordering...

    Am I correct Tommy?

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    This is why I never use the tabindex attribute.

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    That's the sort of thing I mean, yes.
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