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Re: My final attempt on explanation (was RE: [DRAFT] Heartbeat poll - update 2)

From: Roy T. Fielding <fielding@gbiv.com>
Date: Mon, 3 Aug 2009 20:59:51 -0700
Message-Id: <D2F22A0E-F8AB-42B0-A666-2CEFF5018439@gbiv.com>
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
To: L.David Baron <dbaron@dbaron.org>
On Aug 3, 2009, at 7:55 PM, L. David Baron wrote:

> On Monday 2009-08-03 19:50 -0700, L. David Baron wrote:
>> Well, if you can point me to where the argument for keeping @summary
>> was actually made, I could respond to it, but I haven't actually
>> seen it.  And that's the problem.
>
> And, to be clear, the argument for removing it is that a large
> sample of uses of @summary on the Web were examined, and most of
> them were useless, and those that weren't were useful for all users
> and therefore should have been in the caption element.  Therefore,
> authors and users would be better served by being told to put
> useful summary information in the caption, and useless summary
> information nowhere.
>
> Is there an equally concise summary of the argument on the other
> side?

This doesn't really have anything to do with John's argument,
but the following are off the top of my head (without looking
at any of the list history for HTML or WAI):

1) caption is for visible table captions, summary is for non-visible
summaries, so they are not the same thing.

2) when transcoding an existing (often paper) document to HTML,
one cannot simply add a caption that doesn't already exist --
that would be changing the historical record.  One can, however,
add a summary so that the visual presentation is described
to a non-visual audience.

3) tables are a two-dimensional information visualization that
is intentionally terse and hard to convey on non-visual user
interfaces.  A good caption is intended to describe the table
in equally terse terms for the sake of someone who is already
perceiving the table in visual form -- it is not supposed to
duplicate the visual information.  Summary, OTOH, describes
the table for the perspective of a non-visual audience, and
hence is supposed to include the visual information that such
users cannot "see".  It would be seriously annoying to me (a
visual person) if every table I looked at had a completely
redundant, in-depth caption suitable for a non-visual perspective.
That is why caption and summary are not the same attribute.

4) "a large sample of @summary on the Web" is not only
impossible to examine in any meaningful way, it is also
irrelevant to the need for separate elements for those
parts of the Web that are not included in the sample.
I could sample `til the cows come home and never run across
the content from websites that use content negotiation
based on user agent to deliver more accessible content.
Likewise, sampling is irrelevant within the context of
HTML that is required by law or regulation to be
accessible to sight-impaired users.

Therefore, authors are clearly not served by a specification
that tells them caption and summary are the same and all
such information must be relegated to caption.  As an implementor
of content management systems used by government agencies in
several different countries, I will not conform to any HTML
specification that deprecates or fails to define @summary.
I suspect the same will be true for other CMS implementations,
which outnumber the browser implementations at least 100:1.

....Roy
Received on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 04:00:27 UTC

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