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Re: [whatwg] Implementation complexity with elements vs an attribute (responsive images)

From: Mathew Marquis <mat@matmarquis.com>
Date: Sun, 13 May 2012 15:20:54 -0400
Message-Id: <60CD6E1E-CF6D-4ECD-95CA-5F8FBF145985@matmarquis.com>
To: Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis <bhawkeslewis@googlemail.com>
Cc: "whatwg@lists.whatwg.org" <whatwg@lists.whatwg.org>

On May 13, 2012, at 1:01 PM, Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis <bhawkeslewis@googlemail.com> wrote:

> On Sun, May 13, 2012 at 5:21 PM, Mathew Marquis <mat@matmarquis.com> wrote:
>>> AND they have to update their sites and mediaqueries when we get
>>> something new to optimize for. I don't think they will do that, based on
>>> how extremely big the problem with -webkit-prefixes are.
>>> 
>>> I've seen enough of the web to be sceptical.
>> 
>> The amount of “developers can never be trusted with this” sentiment I’ve heard from the members of this group is incredibly depressing.
> 
> That it depresses you does not mean that taking a more optimistic
> viewpoint will produce specifications that will result in better
> end-user experiences.
> 
>> When we get “something new to optimize for,” we start adding that thing going forward. The evolution of media queries—or, say, HTML5—hasn’t led to a need to constantly revisit every piece of client work a developer has ever produced.
> 
> In the case of webkit prefixes, authors have needed to update their
> work, have failed to do so, and now user agents are having to support
> webkit prefixes.
> 
> The key problem about designing a responsive images solution around
> user agent characteristics not image characteristics is that authors
> will inevitably make more false assumptions about what images match
> what user agent characteristics than user agents will. As a result,
> user agents may be forced to misinterpret media queries in order to
> provide their users with better user experiences.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t this same reasoning apply to layouts that depend heavily on media queries? 

The primary characteristics in play are screen size and resolution. I doubt any UAs will be forced to misinterpret common media queries because they haven’t been accounted for. I doubt UAs could, in fact—or would care. It wouldn’t be a matter of neglecting to support their product. It would be a matter of neglecting to supporting a screen at 310px wide.

This is to say nothing of the fact that the objective of a responsive layout _is_ to properly accommodate the widest possible range of displays. The things you’re trying to prevent are the things we’re trying to avoid anyway.

> 
> What authors _can_ do and user agents _cannot_ do is describe their
> images. Such metadata never needs to be misinterpreted and allows user
> agents to iterate and improve the end-user experience even when the
> author either does not care about them, or has moved on, or is long
> dead. Is authors not caring about user agents a real problem?
> Certainly is - witness Opera's failed efforts to get authors to
> support more than Webkit, witness the widespread inaccessibility of
> web services, etc.
> 
> Depressing but true.
> 
> --
> Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis
Received on Sunday, 13 May 2012 19:21:30 GMT

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