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

Re: alt and authoring practices

From: Smylers <Smylers@stripey.com>
Date: Sun, 4 May 2008 16:29:33 +0100
To: HTML Working Group <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20080504152933.GJ11992@stripey.com>

Henri Sivonen writes:

> On May 4, 2008, at 11:19 , Henri Sivonen wrote:
> 
> > When a user of Nvu doesn't provide a textual alternative to Nvu, is
> > the result better or worse for the user experience of the page
> > reader than Nvu omitting alt and letting UAs indicate the presence
> > of an image in a self-consistent UA-specific way?
> 
> What I'm trying to get at is this:
> 
> Alt has three states:
> 1) Not available.
> 2) Specific text available.
> 3) Conceal the presence of image from non-graphical rendering.
> 
> A single text field without an accompanying checkbox can only handle
> two states: #2 and either of #1 and #3.
> 
> I think it's reasonable for authoring tools aimed at 'average users'
> to only have a single text field, but I think in that case the overall
> outcome is better if leaving the text field empty maps to case #1 (no
> alt) than to case #3 (alt="").

Why?

The no-alt case is only permitted where the image is unknown to the
author; generally that would only be the case if it's a template, rather
than a complete webpage, being edited.

In particular if the page-generation software is being used to insert a
specific local image file into the page then the image must be known to
the author, and there's no excuse for not providing alt.  The only
decision is whether alt="" or some text is the best alternative, so
I'd've thought it made sense for those to be the two possibilities the
software presents.

But, as you say:

> I think some products only supporting two of the three states
> shouldn't preclude the spec and other products from supporting the
> three states.

Absolutely.  The spec doesn't need to mandate what options software
offers its users.

Smylers
Received on Sunday, 4 May 2008 15:30:21 UTC

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