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RE: ALT text survey

From: Charles (Chuck) Oppermann <chuckop@MICROSOFT.com>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 1998 17:31:01 -0800
Message-ID: <E3A3FFB80F5CD1119CED00805FBECA2F013BBDF7@red-msg-55.dns.microsoft.com>
To: "'A.Flavell@physics.gla.ac.uk'" <A.Flavell@physics.gla.ac.uk>, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
<<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.>>

Getting worse?  How?  With Internet Explorer, the rendering of ALT has
gotten better and better with successive version.

In your opinion, what is the "real problem?"

<<The Opera browser has a _much_ more appropriate rendering, in my opinion,
when images are turned off.>>

With Opera 3.10 I see two differences - one there is no little icon and it
seems to ignore HEIGHT and WIDTH attributes.

With IE3 and greater (with screen reader present) or IE4.01's "Always Expand
ALT Text" option turned on, all the ALT is shown.  If HEIGHT/WIDTH is too
small, then the bounding box is expanded.  

This behavior, is better than Opera 3.1 because it retains the layout of the
page wherever possible and only altering it when it has too.  Opera in all
cases alters the authors layout of the page by sizing the image box to fit
only the ALT text.

In addition, Opera seems to use the SRC value as the ToolTip for anchors.
It looks ugly.  Do you feel that putting the SRC value in the ToolTip is
better than the ALT value?

In the final analysis, the users decide.  Other than a couple of people on
this list, I haven't heard any complaints about our rendering of ALT text
since we've added the "Expand..." option.  That option was added because
some non-screen reader users wanted the ability to get all the ALT text.

-Chuck
-----Original Message-----
From: Alan J. Flavell [mailto:flavell@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk]
Sent: Friday, February 13, 1998 4:04 AM
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Subject: Re: ALT text survey



"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
better.  
>>

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
be.
>>

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 20:31:25 GMT

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