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RE: definition of User Agent

From: Robinson, Norman B - Washington, DC <Norman.B.Robinson@usps.gov>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2005 14:52:47 -0500
Message-ID: <EAF95052690D174A833DC58B15AB6A8819E87E@WADCHQSXM24.usa.dce.usps.gov>
To: "Michael Cooper" <michaelc@watchfire.com>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Michael Cooper chimed in with the Subject: RE: definition of User Agent,
"...Since there is a reference to UAAG, our definition has to be
compatible with the one used there, but doesn't have to be identical."

I'll chime in with the first definition isn't all inclusive as the UAAG
doesn't clearly define what a user agent is or is not. It provides
examples and is focused on defining what accessible user agents should
be. The second definition is all encompassing. It covers web browsers,
scripting routines, media players, email clients that render HTML based
content, plug-ins that render HTML based content, and generically other
programs. The finer point of debate is the second sentence that muddles
the issue with "help in..." retrieving and rendering web content.

I would venture to say if the client/program/agent doesn't render
content, then it isn't a user agent. Retrieving content could be
illustrated through a process of file transfer protocol (FTP) or secure
copy (SCP) or any other program such as wget. That clearly isn't a user
agent. Once I open a web browser to view the content, that would be a
user agent. 

If I were to open a text editor and open the same content, would that be
a user agent? I think not, but chime in and let me know if this line of
thinking is adding to the conversation.

Regards,


Norman B. Robinson 
 
Original Message content of interest to the reader:

In this document, the term "user agent" is used in two ways:
1.      The software and documentation components that together, conform
to the requirements of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (UAAG
1.0). This is the most common use of the term in this document and is
the usage in the UAAG checkpoints.
2.      Any software that retrieves and renders Web content for users.
This may include Web browsers, media players, plug-ins, and other
programs - including assistive technologies - that help in retrieving
and rendering Web content.
Note:  This term was taken verbatim from User Agent Accessibility
Guidelines 1.0 (UAAG 1.0) Glossary 
 
 
The note states that this was taken verbatim from UAAG.   Actually this
is an adaptation of the definition in UAAG because it would make no
sense in our document as written. 
Here is the definition verbatim from UAAG.
 
User agent
In this document, the term "user agent" is used in two ways: 
1.      The software and documentation components that together, conform
to the requirements of this document. This is the most common use of the
term in this document and is the usage in the checkpoints.
2.      Any software that retrieves and renders Web content for users.
This may include Web browsers, media players, plug-ins, and other
programs - including assistive technologies - that help in retrieving
and rendering Web content.
 
First we should change our note since it isn't accurate.
 
Second I wonder if our adaptation of UAAG definition is accurate for our
guidelines.  Isn't the second definition the one we mean most?  Not the
first?
In fact isn't the second definition the only thing we mean by the term
user agent? 

Gregg
Received on Monday, 31 October 2005 19:52:58 GMT

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