W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > April 2008

Re: [html4all] several messages about alt

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Sun, 13 Apr 2008 17:33:05 +0200
Message-ID: <480227B1.20802@malform.no>
To: HTML4All <list@html4all.org>
CC: Ben Boyle <benjamins.boyle@gmail.com>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

Henri Sivonen 08-04-13 14.05:     
> On Apr 13, 2008, at 14:15, Ben Boyle wrote:
>   
> > Where does "conformance" fit in on the scale?
>
> It depends on what kind of conformance is meant. First, there's the  
> question of conformance to what? To HTML5? To WCAG? Second, there's  
> the issue that overall conformance criteria may have parts that are  
> not machine checkable.
>   

And as you say below, HTML 5 has such criterias.

> In theory, HTML5 conformance and HTML5 validity are the same thing. In  
> practice, though, people tend to think that validity is what a  
> validator checks, which is machine-checkable conformance criteria.
>   

Your product is called a conformance checker. So, I take it that you are 
in doubt about whether it should actually be a conformance checker, or 
if it should be a validity checker. And also it seems that even if it 
will be a validity checker, you still consider calling it a conformance 
checker. (Conformance to HTML 5, that is.)

> Examples of non-machine-checkable conformance criteria:
>   * "The img must not be used as a layout tool." (HTML 5)
>   * "Authors must only use elements, attributes, and attribute values  
> for their appropriate semantic purposes." (HTML 5)
>   * "Content MUST NOT use a code point for any purpose other than that  
> defined by its coded character set." (Charmod)
>   * "Images of text are only used for pure decoration or where a  
> particular presentation of text is essential to the information being  
> conveyed." (WCAG 2.0

If we formalise that the first step of validation/conformance checking, 
namely the checking of whether images have the correct alt text and are 
used in the right way, if tables have summary, and so on and so forth, 
as a step that must be done by the author/webmaster, then your product 
could be allowed to check only the more formal points - while at the 
same time also give a stamp that the document conforms, taking into 
account that the author has done his job in advance.

Of course, if there are photo web sites taking constant streams of 
photos from mobile phones etc, then it should be possible to make that 
CMS handle those photos in a way that the webmaster approves of, so that 
he can offer the site for validation/conformance checking. It will be up 
to the site policy to decide whether one are satisfied with the way it 
is handeled or not.

Henri Sivonen 08-04-13 10.55:     
> The syntax rules need to be lax enough for all kinds of sites to be  
> able to comply. If all sites can't be accessible, too, then  
> accessibility and syntactic correctness are different evaluation axes.
>   

Those are different evaluation axes. But experience has shown us that 
the only validation that authors care about is the general CSS and HTML 
stamps. Therefore, we must (continue to) incorporate social 
consciousness into the general stamping tools.

And also - and this goes against what you said in your rathole letter: 
people tend to think that the HTML stamp actually also incorporate some 
general accesibility checking, as it does check if there is an alt and a 
summary etc. The W3 HTML checker has always done a small bit of 
accessiblity checking , and that is part of why people want to check 
their pages in that validator. To offer a checker as a same kind of 
prestiged checker as the current W3 tool, without incorporating some 
basic accessibility checking, would be a bit like stealing goodwill from 
a wholly different kind of tool.

It was Anne, who in his blog once said those very wise words (quoted 
from my mind) that "people are making XHTML pages thinking they are 
making more accessible and semantic pages - though in reality both 
<FONT> etc are permitted in current XHTML". He is right, but this also 
shows that people expect to be measured against a accessibility and 
semantisism standard when they run their pages through the validator mill.

The way I propose it, with some kind of "unready" stamp etc, people will 
be allowed to cheat - just remove the 'unready' and do the minimum thing 
with the alt attribtues -  but they will also then know that they are 
cheating. At the same time, what is cheating? The author evalution 
always counts.

Btw, it strikes me that validation tools have two kinds of purposes: One 
is acting as a formal stamp. The other is that they are developement 
tools. For instance, my main browser, iCab, incorporates an error 
checker, which informs me about lacking alt attributes and so on. And my 
text editor stops coloring the syntax if there is a syntax error. 
(Unfortunatly - or perhaps not - forgetting an alt attribute does not 
destroy the syntax colors.)


Henri Sivonen 08-04-13 10.55:     
> On Apr 13, 2008, at 03:35, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
> > In this regard, I proposed [1] - as an replacement for the current  
> > "WYSIWYG made" stamp - a new "unready" stamp, which all authors -  
> > couples, and blind - and all editing tools - could use, when they  
> > need to offer HTML which they consider technically unready.
>
> Alternatively, we could call "unready" valid HTML5 and "better than  
> unready" valid HTML5 with WCAG compliance. We don't have to conflate  
> accessibility evaluation with the syntactic correctness.
>   
For one thing, I meant real unreadyness. And, in fact, not only the 
accessibility side. And it would be up to the validator to tell if the 
syntax etc actually is ready. (Unless you think that any document 
starting with <!DOCTYPE HTML> is valid, in which case we don't need any 
checkers.) [*]

For the second, the "unready" stamp does not conflate those two things. 
It helps keeping them apart. And allows an HTML 5 conformance checker to 
give a definitive 'Yes', when the author has done his part. And it 
raises the consciousness about the fact that writing HTML documents is a 
process.

Only the author can know if the document is ready - only he is in charge 
of how the text needs to be "alt-ed".

WCAG is a higher degree of accessibility checking. Given all the things 
you say that a normal page maker never will do, how come you think 
he/she will do WCAG cheking? Will you offer a direct link in your tool 
for running the page in a WCAG checker, for instance? (That could be 
nice, regardless.)

[*] PS: I once asked a vendor representative how, with HTML 5, we will 
be able to serve pages that triggers quirks mode. And the answer I got 
was "by omitting the <!DOCYTYPE> alltogether". I understand that there 
is hope that quirksmode could be built into CSS, instead. And that would 
be nice. But that answer showed me that there is no universal demand 
amongst "vendors" that that any thing presented as HTML needs to be valid.
-- 
leif halvard silli
Received on Sunday, 13 April 2008 15:35:01 UTC

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