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Re: unifying alternate content across embedded content element types

From: Robert Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2007 09:55:09 -0500
Message-Id: <60436D8A-F44C-406E-A34C-95585BCFCC4F@robburns.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
To: Andrew Sidwell <takkaria@gmail.com>

On Jul 14, 2007, at 9:45 AM, Andrew Sidwell wrote:

> Robert Burns wrote:
>> [I]t strikes me that, if its useful to add
>> a short alternate to an <img> element that perhaps already has a  
>> lengthy
>> and semantically rich description as the target of a @longdesc
>> attribute. then maybe it would be useful to do the same for other
>> embedded content elements.
> I think you misrepresent (unintentionally, I assume) the way round  
> that
> things occured.  First, there was alt="", then longdesc="" was  
> added (in
> HTML 4).  That is, longdesc was introduced to fix the shortcomings of
> alt for those who needed it; alt wasn't introduced to add a shorter
> version of longdesc.
> Andrew Sidwell

That's fine. I'm not trying to chronicle the history of these  
facilities. What I"m suggesting is that, however the situation came  
about, the usage of the two attributes has diverged. The guidance  
authors are given for those two attributes has become: 1) @alt for  
brief equivalent; and 2) @longdesc for more elaborate equivalent. So  
what I'm trying to discuss is whether that distinction (again however  
it happened) is useful enough to preserve and even migrate to other  
embedded content?

As an example, think of an <img> that has a @longdesc attached to it.  
According to current recommendations, the @alt attribute is still  
required. Its not that we require @alt or @longdesc. Rather we  
require @alt even if there is a @longdesc value. Is that simply an  
oversight? Or have these attributes evolved to serve distinct  
purposes: distinct purposes worth using for other embedded content   
for other element types?

I can see it both ways. However, I think its an issue we should  
address one way or the other.

Take care,
Received on Saturday, 14 July 2007 14:55:26 UTC

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