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Re: fear of "invisible metadata" [was Re: retention of summary attribute for TABLE element]

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 17:42:23 +0200
To: Alfonso Martínez de Lizarrondo <amla70@gmail.com>, joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie
Cc: "James Graham" <jg307@cam.ac.uk>, "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>, "HTML WG" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.tt6dwxa3wxe0ny@widsith.lan>

On Tue, 19 Jun 2007 16:22:23 +0200,  
"=?ISO-8859-1?Q?Alfonso_Mart=EDnez_de_Lizarrondo?= "Martínez de  
Lizarrondo" <amla70@gmail.com>" <"<amla70"@gmail.com>alfonso> wrote:

> LONGDESC is a good description of a contradiction. It's meant to
> provide extra information about an image, but the fact is that no
> visual UA supports it (AFAIK), and that means that if you provide it
> so people with visual problems can get that extra information about
> the image then you are depriving the rest of the people with that very
> same info.
>
> Is that logical?
>
> So the solution is to wrap the image in a link so it points to the
> extra info and everybody can access it. And in the end the existence
> of such attribute isn't useful at all.
>
> Am I wrong about this issue?

In a word, yes.

Longdesc is not that common on the web. The native support is woeful -  
iCab excepted, although it is inaccessible in general - but there are  
extensions that people use to make it work nicely[1]. Despite the lack of  
support, it is used occasionally, and it is very useful.

It is true that in general a real description would be useful to everyone,  
but there are a lot of designers who don't see things that way. The  
d-link, even when invisible, was not a popular idea because it could  
interfere with (over-)complicated layouts. In addition, it is a lot of  
work, so not everyone is going to provide this.

In an ideal world, the longdesc for Maciej's flickr photos (and others)  
would point to the paragraph below, which describes, more or less, the  
image (and is of course addressable via a URI). Being able to point  
directly to a description would allow Gregory's photos, described by  
various other people, to be annotated with a pointer to the description he  
preferred [1]. An ideal browser implementation would know whether a  
description is in the same page immediately after, or in a different page,  
and make the UI make sense for both those cases. But being able to go back  
and forth is a minimally useful answer - just as label is in some way  
related to a form control, but different use agents do a better or worse  
job of making use of that association.

As a further use case, wouldn't it be nice, instead of getting random  
results for image searches, if you could at least know that people  
building searches had the possibility of looking at longdesc content? (It  
may not work for Google, who would of course get spammed with keyword  
stuffing, but it would work for the various groups who do intranet search  
engines and it would be useful). This is what having semantics is about,  
after all.

Cheers

Chaals

-- 
   Charles McCathieNevile, Opera Software: Standards Group
   hablo español  -  je parle français  -  jeg lærer norsk
chaals@opera.com    Catch up: Speed Dial   http://opera.com
Received on Tuesday, 19 June 2007 15:43:07 GMT

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