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Re: unifying alternate content across embedded content element types

From: Smylers <Smylers@stripey.com>
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2007 18:39:36 +0100
To: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <20070715173935.GI5621@stripey.com>

Robert Burns writes:

> 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.

Yes.  But more out of necessity and pragmatism (because of the
historical reasons for how they came about) than because there is an _a
priori_ reason to make such a distinction:

* People can't use alt for 'rich' alternative content because an
  attribute simply doesn't allow that.

* It's much more hassle to use longdesc than to use alt (either creating
  a separate file and ensuring it never gets separated from the current
  document, or putting the content elsewhere in the current file and
  using some CSS to hide it (and not caring about those without CSS)).
  There's no advantage in doing that in situations where alt suffices.

Note that this isn't a useful division in terms of what the author is
trying to convey.  It isn't that somebody in advance decided to put this
distinction into HTML.

> 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?

I don't see how it helps authors.  Alternative content inside an element
already covers what both alt and longdesc provide:

* It doesn't have alt's disadvantage of not permitting mark-up.

* It doesn't have longdesc's disadvantage of being hassle to use.

Smylers
Received on Sunday, 15 July 2007 17:40:02 GMT

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