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

Re: Images and alternative text

From: Philip Taylor <pjt47@cam.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 08 Aug 2008 21:26:29 +0100
Message-ID: <489CABF5.5020104@cam.ac.uk>
To: Justin James <j_james@mindspring.com>
CC: public-html@w3.org

Justin James wrote:
> 
> I am beginning to wonder how much more brainpower we wish to bring to bear
> on this extraordinarily specialized, specific, and niche use case.

I raised this case because it is an instance of a more general problem. 
Just as photo-sharing sites like Flickr are a specific use case 
demonstrating the more general problem where a tool outputting HTML 
cannot provide a true textual alternative to all its images (hence HTML5 
adding a feature to better address that problem), the LaTeX-to-<img> 
case demonstrates the more general problem where HTML 5's approach of 
applying different meaning to a specific syntax in attribute values 
makes it harder to write a conforming markup generator.

There are other instances of the same problem - e.g. if I write a Web 
2.0 Logo Generator that converts a user's text into an image in a 
certain typographical style, I would decide to set the alt text to be 
what the user typed in, because that's the closest the tool can get to 
an equivalent of the image; but then if the user types in some funky 
name for their site like "{Cuilr}", it'll trigger the special 
alt-attribute-gives-kind-rather-than-textual-equivalent processing in 
HTML 5 UAs, which is inappropriate and harmful here, so I'd have to 
worry about preventing that situation.

The use of special syntax in the attribute value inconveniences every 
tool that generates markup based on user input, even when they have no 
need for or interest in the feature which that syntax is for.

-- 
Philip Taylor
pjt47@cam.ac.uk
Received on Friday, 8 August 2008 20:27:11 GMT

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