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Re: Opera 10.10 recently added longdesc support

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2009 20:28:48 +0200
To: "Jonas Sicking" <jonas@sicking.cc>, "Laura Carlson" <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Cc: "Aryeh Gregor" <Simetrical+w3c@gmail.com>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.u0a9madcwxe0ny@widsith.local>
On Tue, 15 Sep 2009 19:50:36 +0200, Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc> wrote:

> On Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 10:26 AM, Laura Carlson
> <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi Aryeh
>>
>> You wrote [1]:
>>
>>> as far as I
>>> know, longdesc is so consistently misused that no user agent, AT or
>>> otherwise, bothers providing it to users in any obvious way by
>>> default.
>>
>> Opera 10.10 recently added longdesc support
>> http://www.iheni.com/londesc-support-opera-1010/
>
> Meanwhile, Firefox 3.6 is removing support for it [1]. I added support
> for it a long time ago in [2], in fact, it was one of my first patches
> as a Mozilla contributor. However it was deemed too much code
> (literally thousands of lines of code) for too little gain. In these
> cases we generally advice the use of an extension instead, which seems
> like it's going to happen here [3].

This illustrates a few important things. For us it wasn't thousands of  
lines of code, but a quick fix (and one we expect to mostly re-use for  
aria-describedBy, as well as giving us experience of using that in the  
browser itself). So clearly extrapolating from teh experience of either  
Firefox or Opera doesn't apply to other people's code.

*Because* this was a quick fix we decided to do it, despite the fact that  
somewhere less than half a percent of the pages we know of use longdesc in  
some meaningful way (and about half of those use it right - but we made it  
do something we think is reasonable for the most common recoverable error  
case). If we were talking hundreds of lines of code we probably wouldn't  
have implemented it.

So now we expect to be able to better test longdesc, (traditionally, like  
Firefox we relied on a userJS extension for people who wanted access in  
the mainline browser) and also to get some understanding of how  
aria-describedBy works in the UI. We consider this a very low-risk change.

Personally I am sad that it didn't happen ten years ago, since the part of  
the web built with attention to accessibility may have developed  
differently (compare with accesskey which is also something that is only  
relevant to some pages, is used about twice as much as longdesc, but in  
the vast majority of cases is used in a reasonable and useful way). But  
trying to change history isn't very useful - at best we can try to make it  
 from now...

cheers

Chaals

-- 
Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals       Try Opera: http://www.opera.com
Received on Tuesday, 15 September 2009 18:29:45 UTC

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