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Re: Request for review of alt and alt value for authoring or publishing tools

From: Marghanita da Cruz <marghanita@ramin.com.au>
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2008 10:03:53 +1000
Message-ID: <480936E9.8090905@ramin.com.au>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
CC: Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>, John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>, 'Tomas Caspers' <tomas@tomascaspers.de>, wai-xtech@w3.org, wai-liaison@w3.org, public-html@w3.org, 'HTML4All' <list@html4all.org>

Ian Hickson wrote:
> On Tue, 15 Apr 2008, Joshue O Connor wrote:
>> Ian Hickson wrote:
>>> There is *absolutely no practical difference* to the UA between 
>>> omitting the alt="" attribute altogether, and having the alt="" 
>>> attribute set to some magical reserved value. They are functionally 
>>> identical, and user agents can get as much information from either.
>> Thats not entirely true. If you consider a UA like a screen reader which 
>> will pretty much by default skip images that have a null alt value and 
>> the other situation you cite where there is some reserved value that 
>> will potentially trigger some kind of behaviour (which is undefined as 
>> yet). The difference (an benefit) of this magical reserved value is that 
>> the user may be able to choose to also ignore it via some verbosity 
>> settings. Without this 'magical reserved value' the screen reader will 
>> potentially default into heuristic evaluation which is not desirable 
>> when interacting with an application - such as the much vaunted photo 
>> sharing application - and its dynamically generated/random alphanumeric 
>> URLs. [1]
> 
> I don't understand. Why can't whatever behaviour will happen for 
> alt="magic vlaue" also happen when the alt="" attribute isn't present? In 
> both cases we're talking about future tools, and in both cases we're 
> presumably talking about the same behaviour. I agree that the users of 
> legacy tools are screwed either way (magic value or missing attribute, 
> both will result in a poor user experience for these images in today's 
> UAs, though the missing alt case at least typically has user prefs so that 
> the user can tweak those cases, another reason why I personally prefer 
> simply omitting the alt="" attribute rather than introducing keywords).
> 
Isn't the problem that historically features have been coded in what was available?

What appears to be needed is the HTML 5 expression of the multiple uses of 
alt="" rather than ignoring its existance. the use of title doesn't seem 
consistent either.

Some may be interested in the results of the strawpoll I did on the display of 
alt text. See:
<http://www.ramin.com.au/linux/html-strawpolls.shtml>

Marghanita
-- 
Marghanita da Cruz
http://www.ramin.com.au
Phone: (+61)0414 869202
Received on Friday, 18 April 2008 23:59:53 UTC

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