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RE: John's proposed wording for Principle 4

From: Wendy Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 12:36:32 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: <neil.whiteley@tag2.net>
Cc: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Hello Neil,

Thank you for your thoughtful suggestions and explanations.

At 04:06 PM 7/19/2005, Neil Whiteley wrote:
>So, as far as Principal 4 is concerned, realistically it should only deal
>with *legacy* or *current* versions of available and active user agents
>which would give us.
>4. Content is compatible with current user agents.
>Where *current* means; "any released versions of user agents that are
>available now or have been available previously that are actively being used
>to access Web content".
>It might be that any attempt to address compatibility with future user
>agents will prove to be unworkable and indeed unnecessary. The capabilities
>of those user agents will be *unknown* until such time as they are released,
>at which point they become *current*.

I more clearly understanding your reasoning, but "4. Content is compatible 
with current user agents." doesn't feel quite right, yet.  However, if 
others are willing to accept it, I can live with it.

My initial thoughts are, "how often is content not compatible with current 
user agents? Do authors need to be told to make content compatible?  Why 
limit it to current?"  Obviously, content creators do need to learn that 
there is more than one browser to test against and that content ought to 
work across browsers.  Also, "current" could refer to user agents available 
at the time the guidelines are read (what is "future" today will be 
"current" tomorrow)....however, I'm concerned that it seems kind of 
limited, obvious and tautological.   I feel that we've strayed from the 
original intent of the principle, currently worded as, "Principle 4: 
Content must be robust enough to work with current and future 
technologies."  In WCAG 1.0, we use the phrase "transform gracefully" [1]. 
However, this has been difficult to translate.  But, that's what we mean: 
content is robust - it has "demonstrated an ability to recover gracefully 
from the whole range of exceptional inputs and situations in a given 
environment." If designed well it should work with a variety of past and 
future user agents, although as you've said how can we be sure until we 
know how future user agents behave? I don't have alternative wording to 
offer, other than what I've said already, "Content is compatible with 
current and future user agents."

Also, this is a principle and the nuances will be covered by the success 
criteria.  So, if others like it, I can live with it.


[1] <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/#transform-gracefully> 
Received on Wednesday, 20 July 2005 16:36:48 UTC

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