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Archive: 5 January 2011

Looking For Focus

In the reset revision draft I posted Monday, I got tripped up by some last-minute changes and I’m going to think out loud (so to speak, as it were) about possible solutions.

The problem is that the presence of a in the first rule means that focus outlines on hyperlinks are removed.  Thus in commenting out the :focus rule I restored default focus styles to form elements, but not hyperlinks.  This wasn’t a problem up until roughly a day before I published, but last-minute tinkering brought it back.  I’d say that’ll teach me not to tinker, but I hate to lie.

I’ve come up with the following solutions.  Consider them as mutually exclusive.

  • Remove a from the first rule.  This would exempt it from being reset at all.  On the one hand, this means that focus defaults are restored.  On the other hand, by exempting an (incredibly pervasive) element from the list, it does violate the spirit of element agnosticism I try to follow.  On the gripping hand, that first rule doesn’t do much to reset links as it is: their text-decoration and color properties are not altered.  Back in 2007 the color would have been thanks to a color: inherit declaration, but that was dropped at the time and I don’t think it’s likely to return.  Even if it does, the question of exempting a would remain and possibly even deepen.

  • Remove outline: 0 from the first rule.  The only things I can think of that get outlines are focused form elements, which the reset doesn’t touch; and focused hyperlinks, which I’m trying to avoid touching in the first place.  That’s not very forward-looking, though.  Outlines could start showing up in future browsers or on future elements.

  • Define explicit a:focus styles, as the HTML5 Doctor reset does.  This overcomes the problem of focus-stripping, but imposes a specific focus appearance.  That violates the entire spirit of the reset.  Of course, it’s not as though there’s much variance in how browsers present link focusing, and it’s pretty easy to write a rule that would be mistaken for browser defaults by just about anyone.

In the process of writing this out, I think I’ve mostly settled on which choice I prefer, but I’d like to hear what you think.  Which option strikes you as best, and why?

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