# RE: Images and alternative text

From: Justin James <j_james@mindspring.com>
Date: Fri, 8 Aug 2008 15:05:07 -0400
To: "'Boris Zbarsky'" <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>
Cc: <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <09ff01c8f989$ac8c97f0$05a5c7d0\$@com>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Boris Zbarsky [mailto:bzbarsky@MIT.EDU]
> Sent: Friday, August 08, 2008 12:59 PM
> To: Justin James
> Cc: public-html@w3.org
> Subject: Re: Images and alternative text
>
> Justin James wrote:
> > Alternatively, we could get our "MathML in HTML" spec nailed down,
> tell HTML
> > authors to use that and not graphic for math, and officially throw
> the
> > problem over the fence to UAs at that point. ;)
>
> Won't necessarily completely solve the problem, because some things are
> not so easily translatable from TeX to MathML.  Here's an example that
> I
> used a lot back in my undergrad days and have never seen a TeX-to-
> MathML
> converter get "right":
>
> \def\braket#1#2{\left\langle#1\vphantom{#2}\,\right|\left.#2\vphantom{#
> 1}\right\rangle}
>
> And then use \braket.
>
> I would hope this is expressible in MathML but a brief look doesn't
> tell
> me how, and the automatic converters are certainly not handling it last
> I checked.

I am beginning to wonder how much more brainpower we wish to bring to bear
on this extraordinarily specialized, specific, and niche use case. The only
reason why this has any visibility at all is because so many people on this
list are (or were) involved in the mathematical and scientific communities
where LaTex, Tex, etc. are common.

Let me pose a question to the group here, to illustrate the issue I am
having here.

What would the appropriate @alt text be for a JPG/GIF/TIFF (whatever)
generated from an SVG? Would it be the SVG source code? No, that would be
useless except to people who can mentally parse SVG and image it in their
head. The correct answer to this is, "it depends." In other words, we let
the HTML author use their common sense and pick the most appropriate @alt
text possible, based on their individual circumstances.

So why do we care what @alt text is used for LaTex that is converted to an
image? I sure don't. Let the LaTex authors pick their own @alt text. If it
is really important to them, they can put a link to the source LaTex
anyways). If they don't like what @alt text some automated LaTex-to-HTML
conversion tool put in, they need to talk to the folks who wrote that tool.
And it is up to the people writing LaTex-to-HTML conversion tools to ensure
that their output conforms to HTML, it is not HTML's job to conform to the
output of the tool du jour.

So let's get MathML in HTML, which should cover most use cases. If MathML
doesn't meet the needs completely, they should talk to the MathML group, or
they should link to the source LaTex file. :)

J.Ja

Received on Friday, 8 August 2008 19:06:28 UTC

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