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Notes on Sec. A.9 page author guidelines

From: Nir Dagan <nir@nirdagan.com>
Date: Mon, 09 Nov 1998 03:15:40 GMT
Message-Id: <199811081805.TAA03223@sahara.upf.es>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Notes on section A.9 in page author guidelines (the main doc.)

This section mixes up 1. new HTML features with 
2. non-HTML features that may be embedded 
in HTML documents, or media dependent presentations. 
These are fundementally different.

"Older browsers ignore new features and some users
configure their browser not to make use of new features."

Older browsers ignore markup that they don't understand. 
Authors may consider these issues for backward 
compatibility with existing old browsers, but these 
are always transitional issues.

Non-HTML features are by definition an enhancement 
that applies to particular browsers and media.
Images of all types will never be rendered as images in a 
speaking browser. Therefore authors should be 
very worried with the fact that some users can't see their images
(and thus write alt text),  as this is a persistant phenomenon.
There are also persistant media difference with some HTML
features. Mainly with frames.

Concerning configuring the browser, this has nothing to do with 
"new" or "old" features. Browsers often allow to turn off: 
1. non-HTML features, even if they are old (gif images)
2. presentational features, both old and new (colors and fonts 
 via old markup or new stylesheets)

I think that mixing up persistant differences across media,
with backward compatibe authoring is misleading. 

All the examples in the section (even usage of NOFRAMES)
has to do with persistant cross media differences. 
None has to do with old browsers, or with the fact 
that these features are new. 

The guideline may mislead readers who 
will think that it is a transitional requirement
about backward compatibility. It is about compatibility across 
media, but not backwards.


Nir Dagan                            
Assistant Professor of Economics      
Universidad Pompeu Fabra
Barcelona (Spain)


"There is nothing quite so practical as a good theory." 
-- A. Einstein
Received on Sunday, 8 November 1998 13:14:31 UTC

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