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RE: ALT text survey

From: Alan J. Flavell <flavell@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 14 Feb 1998 13:39:55 +0000 (GMT)
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.OSF.3.96.980214124054.18799A-100000@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
On Fri, 13 Feb 1998, Charles (Chuck) Oppermann wrote:

> <<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.

I'm sorry, I have to admit that in trying to be brief I appear to have
over-stated the case.  It's quite true that there have been improvements
in the rendering in the latest version of MSIE. 

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

Well, crudely stated, the "real problem" is that one cannot choose to
use such a graphical browser sometimes as a text mode browser.  It never 
forgets its graphical origins.

> <<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.

Yes.  Looks much nicer, doesn't it?

> With IE3 and greater (with screen reader present) 

Well, it's good to know that there are obscure benefits, even if they are
hidden away from the normal user. 

> or IE4.01's "Always Expand
> ALT Text" option turned on, all the ALT is shown. 

I would have immediately selected such an option if I had ever found
it (and I'd have wondered why it wasn't the default).

> If HEIGHT/WIDTH is too
> small, then the bounding box is expanded.  

Clearly a good idea.

> This behavior, is better than Opera 3.1 because it retains the layout of the
> page wherever possible 

On the contrary.  HTML is not a DTP specification language, browsers
are expected to do the best possible job in each situation with the
material that they are being asked to present.  Stubbornly preserving a
layout that has been designed for images, when there are no such images
present, seems to me to be counterproductive.

>  Opera in all
> cases alters the authors layout of the page by sizing the image box to fit
> only the ALT text.

A well-designed HTML page adapts itself calmly to any browsing situation;
it does not try to stubbornly maintain a pixel exact size and shape
regardless of the browsing situation.  

An author who understands HTML would not hold such intentions for their
"layout", and would prefer their content to be presented in the best
interests of each diverse browsing situation, in my opinion. 

> 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?

I praised one aspect of Opera's presentation.  Please, let's not get
distracted into browser advocacy in general, let's concentrate on
accessibility guidelines.  (Actually, I see that Opera 3.1 uses the TITLE
attribute that's specified in the enclosing <A HREF...> as its tooltip, if
the author bothered to set that attribute.  Which is rather nice, and
brings us back to the related suggestion in the guidelines.  I must make a
note to use that more often.) 

> In the final analysis, the users decide. 

Indeed.  But users can only make a decision when they are aware that there
is one to make, and have given thought to the issues.

> 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.

Yes, that's an improvement.  I concede that I was unaware of it and have
been unable to find it in the version I'm using (for the record, the exe
file is 4.71.1712.0).  Could I ask what, in your view, is the benefit of
not making it the default behaviour? 

best regards
Received on Saturday, 14 February 1998 08:40:16 UTC

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