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Re: Where does the EARL go?

From: Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 12:34:35 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: Nick Kew <nick@webthing.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org>

Yes, you're right that the beauty of EARL and the real power comes from the 
granularity.  You raise some very good questions, such as what about a 
multi-author site?  I'm kind of thinking out loud here...

I think we're going to see a variety of situations.

1. Legacy sites that already make a sitewide claim or at least a claim 
about some subset of pages will just want to make a simple claim on those 
pages and not revisit each page.

2. Newer content - once tools automatically generate EARL - will 
automatically generate EARL!  <grin/>  Therefore hopefully it will exist 
and we can use the per page linking method as described:
><link rel="earl-report" ...>

Or perhaps, something like robots.txt, although I think that kind of 
defeats the point...but could be useful at least for search engines.

3. Tools that don't support EARL and therefore don't generate the granular 
claims we find so exciting.  In this case an author will have to use their 
authoring tool to produce the content then go someplace else to spit out a 
conformance claim in EARL.  How likely is it that they will do this for 
each page if it is not required by WCAG 2.0?  How horrible would it be if 
they made a granular claim (e.g., checkpoint specific) that applies to a 
large set of pages?

Back to some of your questions:

>If we just take the author's word for it, aren't we defeating the
>purpose of EARL?  I was under the impression that we were looking
>to collate comments from different sources, from the automated
>such as Site Valet to the human "I can't read that".

this is the ideal situation, but we are a ways away from that and so until 
then I think we will have to take the author's word for it.  Regardless, 
for the many tests that require humans to make a decision we will be 
relying on the author's/evaluator's word.

>An author or QA manager can generate an EARL report on a page.
>A webmaster can define an overall site policy and (try to) insist
>everything conforms.  But this is merely like collecting Bobby stamps.
>If Granny Arthritic can't follow the feedback link for reasons the
>author has overlooked, the EARL may never be corrected.

This is true.  Although, the Bobby stamps don't provide granularity and are 
not machine readable.

>I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I came out of the f2f
>with thoughts of this leading to something reminiscent of GroupLens,
>but that doesn't seem to fit with what you're describing.
>This would imply some mechanism for collecting third-party EARL
>input for any site in a centralised database - a project that could
>be somewhere on the event horizon.

Yes, the event horizon.  WCAG is looking at a conformance scheme today and 
what they should require of authors.  The questions that came up:
1. do we require all conformance claims in markup?
2. how does an author make this claim - i.e. when we tell them about EARL, 
do we say use the link element?
3. how burdensome and/or confusing will the author find making conformance 
claims in markup?

They are good questions.  My personal answers are:

1. I would like to, but this only seems possible if all WYSIWYG authoring 
tools are able to generate the EARL conformance claim for the author.  This 
might take the form of a really compelling plug-in that we develop and 
hand-off to authoring tool developers (or develop in conjunction 
w/authoring tool devs).

2. I think the link element seems to be the best way to go. 
type='text/x-earl', as you suggested Nick, works for me.  Do we need to 
formalize this in some way?

3. If the tools work really well, then it won't be burdensome or 
confusing.  That's kind of a big if. <grin/>

The upshot of all of this is a wonderful amount of metadata for us to 
search through.  The scenarios for using it keep growing. It's very exciting!

wendy a chisholm
world wide web consortium
web accessibility initiative
seattle, wa usa
Received on Friday, 19 October 2001 12:31:07 UTC

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