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Re: opinions sought about RTF

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 16:32:25 -0400
Message-Id: <199905052037.QAA09656@smtp-gw2.vma.verio.net>
To: "WAI IG" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Are RTF and PDF structured formally enough that a meaningful DTD could be
created?

I think part of the problem is that, as is discussed here regularly, HTML
is designed for an INFORMATION medium whereas both RTF and PDF are designed
as a way to distribute PRINT media electronically.  These are two entirely
different concepts!  (It is only because we have gotten so good at
distributing information in print that people tend to be oblivious to the
necessary gestalt change.)

Poorly structured print documents abound.  The same is true for RTF and PDF
(and DOC and WPD and TXT).  The W3C can, at least, give the world a
validator for HTML.  Were this only true for other common electronic
document formats!  (The structure of a valid HTML document can still be
weak, but at least one can establish strict baseline pass/fail criteria!)

Adobe is not about to let on that the idea a "PDF validator" is a concept
that merits consideration.  They want to promote the idea that electronic
formatting/distribution is as easy as (and the same as) printing --
anything else cuts into their sales!

If PDF/RTF/DOC/WPD/TXT validators were possible to create, who would have
the moral/legal/expert authority to establish the criteria?  (Especially
since Adobe/Microsoft/WordPerfect cannot be trusted to do an objective
and/or sufficient job!)  If such validators existed, who would use them? 
Just about anyone who appreciated the need to validate would understand the
issues well enough to know that what they really needed to do was to
convert documents to HTML!

Charles is quite correct that the W3C explicitely addresses RTF.  Guideline
11 of the specs makes it clear that such a file format is to be avoided!

What I would like to see thoroughly debunked is that the standard for an
"alternative page that uses W3C technologies, is accessible, has equivalent
information (or functionality), and is updated as often as the inaccessible
(original) page" is impossible.  Of course, I guess I would first have to
be convinced that there was material that could not be adequately captured
by HTML!

Bruce Bailey


----------
> From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
> To: John O'Rourke <JOROURKE@fcc.gov>
> Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Subject: Re: opinions sought about RTF
> Date: Wednesday, May 05, 1999 12:36 PM
> 
> RTF is covered by checkpoint 11.4 - where possible use W3C
recommendations.
> 
> RTF (and PDF for that mattter) are not appropriate web content on their
own.
> Reasons for this include the fact that they do not provide for
alternative
> content as well as HTML or well-written XML applications, and the fact
that
> they rely on particular software which is not as widely available as web
> browsers (beyond accessibility for people with disabilities this applies
to
> mobile devices, most voice-based systems for browsing the web, etc).
> 
> RTF is a format for transferring information between particular
applications
> which produce otherwise incomapatible output. For that purpose it is very
> appropriate. Likewise, PDF allows control of layout to ensure printing in
a
> particular way, and is a good format to do this, but is not a
particularly
> good format for accessibility. One of the common problems with PDF is
that
> the generation of pdf often uses images to present text, for example when
> producing PDF from scanned text.
> 
> that's my 2 cents worth
> 
> Charles McCN
Received on Wednesday, 5 May 1999 16:37:20 GMT

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