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Re: A proposal for changing the guidelines

From: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 12:47:52 -0500
Message-ID: <38D26FC8.352492C6@w3.org>
To: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
CC: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Scott Luebking wrote:
> Hi,
> I was thinking a little more about Rob Neff's comment on the audience of
> the guidelines.  The views and needs of the people who are creating web
> pages dynamically are different from people who are using static web
> pages.
> A key difference is that people who are creating web pages dynamically
> use HTML more as a presentation language than as a document description
> language.  For these people, the structure of the dynamically generated
> wen pages are in such things as databases, XML, templates, etc.  The
> HTML is ephemeral.

I am curious why people who create pages dynamically misuse
HTML any more than people who create pages statically.

> A central theme through out the guidelines is that the HTML is
> specifying document structure.  


> For example, it suggests using CSS
> instead of tables to structure the presentation.  However, from the
> point of the person working with dynamic web pages, using tables is much
> easier than CSS for creating certain visual/presentation effects. 

Again, why is the case of dynamically generated pages different
than static pages?

>  Since
> the HTML is going to disappear, why not just use tables?  Similarly,
> using the BLOCKQUOTE tag to create a visual appearance of indentation
> takes less effort than using CSS.

What do you mean the HTML is going to "disappear"?
> Another problem is the idea of graceful transformation.  Making sure
> that tables transform gracefully is a lot of work.  It would be easier
> to decide when to use tables depending on the user and the browser.

I don't understand this.
> For a single page, changing a web page to look good on one type of
> browser can affect how it looks on another type of browser. 

Yes. That's not inherent in the origin of the page, but in the
differing support of browsers.

>  However,
> with dynamically generated web pages, a different type of web page can
> be created for each type of browser.  This reduces the problem of
> accomodating one type of browser negatively affecting another type of
> browser.

Yes, you can "browser sniff" to tailor your content to a particular
browsers abilities. But you should still send well-structured content
and use style sheets.  Please refer also to W3C's work on CC/PP.

> Checking that a page looks good without the CSS is more work which
> people working with dynamic web pages can avoid.

I think that people do a lot of work with just HTML anyway, and
languages, too. I wish it were easier and that CSS and the DOM were 
implemented well. That would reduce the author's work significantly.
But resorting to misused HTML will not solve the problem, only 
perpetuate it. 
> The issue of accessibility of applets, scripts, moving text, etc, can be
> simplified by creating different versions of the web page.  One type of
> page can have these features which can be presented more easily in a
> visually appealing form without the additional burden of also including
> support for accessibility on the same page.  Similarly, accompanying an
> imagemap with a list of textlinks is often fairly ugly.
> I think the guidelines need to be made less of a labor burden for people
> who are creating web pages dynamically.

I don't understand this conclusion. I think tailoring content to the
capabilities of the device is a good thing, but that should be done
by machines, not humans. The principles of the guidelines are, in my
opinion, entirely separate from the issue of how content is produced.

 - Ian

Ian Jacobs (jacobs@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Tel:                         +1 831 429-8586
Cell:                        +1 917 450-8783
Received on Friday, 17 March 2000 12:48:08 UTC

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