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Outline Panel

The "Outline" tab in the Info panel shows you the page structure in various ways: by headings, landmarks, links, images or focus order. These outlines are often used by assistive technologies to allow users to go through your page quickly.

The top of the outline panel

You can switch between different outlines using the dropdown in the top right, and check or uncheck "show issues" to show just the list, or suggest improvements as well.

Hover over any of the elements to scroll them into view on all panes and show a tooltip with their element info. Clicking on the element will open it in the Polypane element panel. Read on for more information on each outline.

Polypane is filled with accessibility features. We wrote a full overview on our blog: Find and fix accessibility issues with Polypane.

Headings

Shows all the headings and ARIA headings currently on the page. The overview will warn you when it finds the following issues:

  • The page has more than one H1
  • The page has no H1
  • Heading levels are skipped
  • Headings with duplicate content, missing content or hidden content
  • Headings with overly long content

None of these are strict WCAG failures or spec violations but they are considered best practices. It will also highlight headings that are presentational, hidden and where the text content is different from the accessible name.

To get a visual overview inside the panes, click "Show overlay". This will draw boxes around all headers and display any issues, which will also be visible in the screenshots you make.

Landmarks

This will show all HTML 5 and ARIA landmark elements on the page and display them with the appropriate role. Polypane will warn you if there are issues with your landmarks, such as:

  • Duplicate landmarks,
  • Missing landmarks,
  • Unnecessary labels
  • Incorrect nesting

Polypane will also show landmark-like elements in the overview and the overlay and explain why they aren't added to the list of landmarks properly.

Landmark overview with two items that have a warning icon to indicate they're not landmarks

If you want to learn more about how these landmark rules work exactly, check out landmarks and where to put them, which Kilian recently wrote for the HTMHell advent calendar.

To get a visual overview inside the panes, click "Show overlay". This will draw boxes around all landmarks and display any issues, which will also be visible in the screenshots you make.

Shows a list of links (both a elements with an href attribute, and elements with role=link set). If an element has a target, hreflang or title that will be displayed, and the overview will warn you if there is a target="_blank" but no rel="opener", duplicate content in the title or a missing aria-current attribute.

Additionally, a badge will be shown for any non-https links, for empty href attributes and for links that have a placeholder value like mailto:. When a link has non-descriptive text, like "click here" or "more", we show a warning. External links are given an icon indicating they leave the website.

To get a visual overview inside the panes, click "Show overlay". This will draw boxes around all links and display any issues, which will also be visible in the screenshots you make.

If the links panel is opened or switched to, Polypane will automatically test all the URLS in the page and highlight broken urls or urls with redirects. Document fragment links (starting with #) will be checked by testing if the referenced element ID exists on the page. Alternate protocols like mailto: and tel: are skipped.

Not all sites support testing URLs and will send error codes back indicating this. The appropriate error code for this is 405 Method Not Allowed. In that situation Polypane will show a question mark. There are sites that send back alternative error codes like 400, 999 and 503. In that case we show that error code and the urls will have to be checked manually.

Learn more: How to find broken links with Polypane

Additional warnings

Polypane also warns you about inaccessible links, incorrect use of anchor (#) links and for missing accessible text.

When Polypane encounters multiple links with the same URL but different text content, or multiple links with the same text content but different URLs, it will show a warning and a list of the mismatched links.

Images

Shows all the images that are currently visible on the page, with a preview, their current source, alt attribute, title, dimensions, file size, aspect ratio and actual dimensions when the image isn't displayed at full size.

Image files that can't be found as well as any other issues with the image are highlighted with a warning.

You can right-click a preview to save the image to disk or copy the image location.

To get a visual overview inside the panes, click "Show overlay". This will draw boxes around all images and display any issues, which will also be visible in the screenshots you make.

Alt attributes

If the alt attribute is missing a warning is shown. An alt attribute that is present but empty is seen as intentional so will not show an issue.

For alt attributes that contain redundant or nondescriptive text, like Emoij's, "A photo of", a color like "a green button", the text "alt" or "placeholder" or repeats the file name we show a warning.

alt texts that are too long can be tedious, so Polypane also shows a warning when it detect long descriptions.

Focus order (Tab order)

Will show you all focusable elements in the order that they are focused when pressing the tab button, along with any tabindex and autofocus attributes.

When it finds elements that are not focusable/interactive by default but have been made focusable, Polypane will suggest changing them to a native interactive element instead. It also gives a warning when you use positive numbers for tabindex, which are best avoided. It highlights focus stops that go against the reading direction.

To get a visual overview, click "Show overlay". This will draw a focus trial along all the focusable elements. Numbers shown in red are elements that go against the reading direction of the page.

Focus overview overlay

Keeping track of the focused element

When you page has an element with focus, that element is indicated in the Focus order list with an arrow in front of the item, and de the list automatically scrolls to move the focused element into view.

When the overlay is active, it also shows the currently focused element by filling the dot in blue.

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