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Re: ALT text survey

From: Alan J. Flavell <flavell@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 1998 12:04:05 +0000 (GMT)
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.OSF.3.96.980213113720.17302J-100000@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>

"Charles (Chuck) Oppermann" <chuckop@MICROSOFT.com> writes

(addressing Colin Reynolds):

The original thread was that the AT&T guidelines say that images should not
be so small as such that ALT text is not shown.  Here is what the AT&T
guidelines say:

"Try to make images at least 24 pixels high; otherwise a bug in Netscape
Navigator on some platforms may cause the ALT text to be ignored. For
example, the ALT text for the following image is not visible in some
versions of Netscape because the image is only 20 pixels high."

It's my opinion that this kind of guideline, that works around a bug in a
browser, would be detrimental and worse - laughed at. 

I see your point, but it's a genuine problem with current browsers, so
surely it deserves a mention - at least as a transitional note?

  Excessive guidelines devalue the
really important ones. 

That's true: but if actual browsers hadn't introduced this problem, there
wouldn't be a need for such a warning.  Because they have, there is.

 The home page alone http://www-the-net-effect.com
would be in violation of this guideline 9 times.

Not surprising - we've already seen Colin's views on the topic.

When I designed the ToolTips feature for IE back in 1995, there was no spec
to be compliant with and everyone agreed that it was a good idea. 

Everyone?  I certainly have been grumbling, at intervals, why it was that
the Big Two browsers' rendering of ALT texts was getting worse and worse
with every release.  I wasn't convinced that introducing the tooltip -
without IMO solving the real problem - was the right answer.  The Opera
browser has a _much_ more appropriate rendering, in my opinion, when
images are turned off. 

 In fact,
I think it has raised awareness of the existence of ALT unlike any guideline
ever could.

If that's true, then I'm absolutely underwhelemed by the evidence of it in
the real world pages that are out there.  I suppose one could argue that
in the absence of MSIE, the situation would have been even more pathetic. 
But unfortunately, a percentage of authors have leaped on the "ALT text is
the way to make tooltips" bandwagon, which hasn't actually addressed the
real problem. 

  Same is true for TITLE.  Theory is great, but implementation is

Yes, and having TITLE take precedence over ALT as a tooltip was a good
move, but I strongly suggest that you follow Opera's good example in the
matter of rendering the ALT text when image display is turned off. 

I agree that some people misuse ALT because of ToolTips, but those same
people would not have had any ALT text if it wasn't for the ToolTip feature.
The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

It's a point of view.  Sometimes I'd rather have no ALT text, than
a misguided one that does not serve the purpose.  (Other than as a
source of innocent humour to add to my collection of "howlers" !).

<<can you tell me in which release of Internet Explorer Microsoft intends to
correct the incorrect rendering of ALT?>>

Incorrect as opposed to what?  First tell me what you think "correct" would

Surely Colin already quoted Fote's perceptive view on the matter?  We
could do well to learn from that. 

best wishes
Received on Friday, 13 February 1998 07:04:28 UTC

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