Spatial Navigation

This is a repository for making the Web excellently embrace the spatial navigation’s features so that the Web technology can be propagated into several industries such as TV, IVI, game console, and upcoming smart devices as well as PC and mobile for a11y.



Spatial navigation is the ability to navigate between focusable elements based on their position within a structured document. Spatial navigation is often called ‘directional navigation’ which enables four(4) directional navigation. Users are usually familiar with the 2-way navigation using tab key for the forward direction and shift+tab key for the backward direction, but not familiar with the 4-way navigation using arrow keys.

Regarding TV remote control, game console pad, IVI jog dial with 4-way keys, and Web accessibility, the spatial navigation has been a rising important input mechanism in several industries. If the Web can embrace the spatial navigation and efficiently support the functionalities in Web engines and W3C APIs, it will be more promising technology for existing products as mentioned above and various upcoming smart devices.


Prior to the mission explanation, we need to understand how the arrow keys work currently on the Web. If you’re watching this page in a normal HD monitor and desktop, not mobile, please push a down-arrow key on your keyboard. What happens? Basically, scrolling downward would be triggered. That’s the default behavior of arrow keys in the Web, only when the page is scrollable in the direction.

In spatial navigation mode, the default behavior of arrow keys is changed from scrolling behavior to focus moving so that users can use the arrow keys to navigate between focusable elements based on their position. To support the functionalities of the spatial navigation, we should consider the following three steps:

  1. A heuristic algorithm for the spatial navigation supported in Web engines
  2. Overriding methods on top of the heuristic algorithm (DOM method/attribute/event)
  3. The relevant API for efficiently supporting the spatial navigation (Setting the spatial navigation container, etc.)

See the explainer for the details of W3C standardization for #1, #2 and #3 above.

See the implStatus for the details of the implementation in Web engines for #2 above.


Q. I’m not sure how the spatial navigation works.

Q. Isn’t it enough just using the relevant Web frameworks?

Q. The spatial navigation seems not the general feature esp. in mobile with no physical key-based interface.

Q. Put any question on issues of this repository :D