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

Re: Images and alternative text

From: Smylers <Smylers@stripey.com>
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2008 13:36:10 +0100
To: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <20080810123610.GJ11746@stripey.com>

Philip Taylor writes:

> 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.  ... 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,

However, Ian showed that very few images currently have alt text
delimited by braces.  So, even though the above scenarios obviously
could exist, they apparently don't do so in large numbers.

So it may be that the nett effect of the 'braces' proposal would be to
improve alt text on many more images than legitimately otherwise have
braces embracing their alt text -- such that a mis-interpreting a few
'false positives' is, on balance, a price worth paying.

> which is inappropriate and harmful here, so I'd have to worry about
> preventing that situation.

Or you could decide it's an edge case you can't be bothered to deal
with, so forget about it.

> 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.

It only inconveniences those who both know about it and care about
dealing with it!  You clearly are a conscientious developer who does
wish to get this situation right.

But consider if the majority of generator developers completely
neglected this scenario, such that a user of such software could
inadvertently trigger the 'braces' semantics: how much would that
actually damage the web, in practce?

All software is buggy.  I'd've expected that the harm caused by
developers not dealing with this edge-case (whether through ignorance or
choice) to be lost among the noise of the incorrect HTML generated by
outright bugs in the software, where the developers accidentally
programmed the generators to do something other than what they intended.

Received on Sunday, 10 August 2008 12:36:48 UTC

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