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Proposed text for clarification of checkpoint 11.1, plus 3 related issues

From: Wendy A Chisholm <chisholm@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 10:33:07 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Hello all,

Here is the proposed text to clarify checkpoint 11.1 that is intended for 
the Errata page and potentially the basis for discussion in the Techniques 
document.  Ian sent an initial proposal to the list a while back, then 
Jason, Ian, and I have been hammering it out.  There are four issues to 
1. The text of the clarification
2. How checkpoints get included in the list
3. Including the explanations on the browser support page
4. Dating conformance claims

When responding to this message please clearly state which issue you are 
referring to.

Issue #1 The text of the clarification
Checkpoint 11.1 reads, "Use W3C technologies when they are available and 
appropriate for a task and use the latest versions when supported." The 
following note should be added to this checkpoint: "Note. Web content that 
uses a new or inconsistently implemented technology or feature must 
transform gracefully. If a technique in a given technology is not supported 
adequately by user agents, content developers should employ  reasonable 
alternative  solutions and upgrade once user agent support has improved."

For example, checkpoint 3.3 reads "Use style sheets to control layout and 
presentation." Style sheet support for background colors and text fonts is 
already "available and appropriate", so authors should use style
sheets today for these styles; doing so will mean that an author has 
satisfied the checkpoint. On the other hand, as CSS2 positioning is not 
widely supported, content developers should employ reasonable alternatives 
such as tables. These tables must be accessible as per Guideline 5. Note 
that in the CSS cascade, style sheets override presentation specified in 
the markup language. Pages that use <em>both</em> style sheets and markup 
should transform gracefully with user agents that don't support style 
sheets or don't support a particular feature.

This clarification applies (though not exclusively) to the following 

  3.1, 3.3, 3.4, 3.7, 4.2, 6.4, 9.1, 9.3, 9.4, 9.5, 12.1, 12.3, and  12.4


Issue #2  How checkpoints get included in the list
It was our feeling that this list only ought to contain  checkpoints that 
refer to technologies where following the checkpoint can result in the page 
being displayed or behaving improperly in a browser. Meta information (such 
as language, 4.1, 4.3) should not cause a presentation effect and therefore 
the developer should still include it for future reference. Using headers 
and list items appropriately should not be in the list (3.5 and 3.6) 
because there should be no excuse for not marking up semantics properly.

Issue #3 Including the explanations on the browser support page
We ought to explain why the items on the list are on the list on the 
browser support page and we should link to it from this clarification.

Issue #4 Dating conformance claims
There is an implication in the last statement of the note that as user 
agent support for features changes with each new release, content 
developers are responsible for keeping their pages up-to-date in  order to 
ensure continued conformance.   Ian writes, "However, if you conformed one 
day and someone produced a browser the next that did the right thing, you 
would suddenly no longer conform. Conformance claims should probably be 
dated so that you can continue to conform to a specific set of guidelines 
(5 May version, for example) as of a specific date. While I see the value 
in encouraging authors to remain up-to-date, they might have the feeling 
that the rug of conformance could be pulled out from under them at any time."
Received on Wednesday, 22 September 1999 11:34:50 UTC

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