W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > April to June 2001

Re: url bar

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001 11:03:06 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200104221003.f3MA36B13890@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Surely the traffic is caused by ie5 not the favicon icon or the failure to

favicon is an IE invention.  In the form of a "favourites" icon, it is
always going to generate excess traffic.

> provide one, and this should be taken upwith MS.

The reason for the excess traffic when you don't provide one (as most
sites are not aware of them - they are rather low priority in popular
web authoring texts - most sites don't provide them) is that, if you do
provide them, and you know how to and are allowed to configure your web
server properly, you can provide a very long expiry time, so that they
are rarely re-requested.  That option exists for all normal resources,
because normal resources are not requested if they don't exist.

> I agree that a gif image would be better, icons require special tools to
> make.

I don't know why they used .ico files - they are likely to be smaller
than GIFs, but the HTTP overhead would negate this; JPG doesn't work
well for very small images.  It seems more likely that it is either a
deliberate IE lock in, or an incidental one resulting from IE not easily
having the full image rendering code available in the favourites list.

> Perhaps a linux browser, even the Konqueror already uses a different system?

Most likely it has just copied IE.  Icon file formats are simple and I
don't think they are on the list of file formats that are covered by
confidentiality clauses in the MSDN licence.  Tools like Konqueror are
written by people interested in GUIs, not those with a complete system

> Could one ensure that they were a suitable size with options for color
> etc....?

IE only really needs one size.  The way to get alternatives would be to
use HTTP content negotiation, although image size has never been a 
standard negotiation option.

> For the present favicons remain a very useful means of identifying a site
> using an icon.

The way of providing an icon that would fit the HTML model of the world== 
would be to use a link element in the HTML head.  That would mean that 
icons would only be fetched if needed.  Commercially it might have the
disadvantage that you could only change the icon when the page was actually
fetched##, but I don't see that that has accessibility problems.

(I'm not sure, but I have a feeling that IE also responds to a particular
link element type.)

> As it is sites that use text, 'flash' or other mm and fail to provide a
> suitable gif/jpg image cause endless work for others, trying to link to them
> via an icon.

There are is only one legally safe ways of creating iconic links to sites:
use an icon provided by the owners of the site for that purpose.

Many sites (try looking at a few UK newspaper sites) claim that they own
intellectual property rights on URLs.  Many forbid any deep linking, and
many require that any link, even to the home page, should be associated
with the icon that they provide++.  Almost every commercial organisation
forbids the use of their trademarks (an icon is likely to be one) without
some form of explicit permission (which might be blanket permission in
the case of a link to a home page).

Generally intellectual property laws favour the authors, not those trying
to produce accessible means of accessing the content of the sites.
I'd strongly advise you to get legal advice before creating your own
icons from site content.

On the other hand, many commercial sites might be a lot more receptive
to requests for link images in standard sizes (someone has to agree
the standard sizes and I'd suggest that favicons are too small for your
purposes) than for most accessibility features, as used under controlled
conditions, it would be consistent with their desires to produce a
brand image.

There is a possible privacy issue here, in that many sites will insist
that you use the image from their site, not a copy, which means that
that site may obtain Referer data, indicating when your page was accessed.

++ Using a favicon in any way other than the way that the browsers do
automatically may well breach a requrirement that a particular logo
image be used for links to a site.

## This is not strictly true.  One could save the URL with the favourite.
However doing so violates the principle that the user is in control.

== Something I notice about this list is that it shares a tendency
to find ways of hacking around existing tools and standards with the
people producing inaccessible pages.  They tend to hack around in order
to make structural tools produce presentational effects, but this list
also seems rather more keen on server side bolt ons, etc. than, the
admittedly longer term process, of getting the HTML and HTTP standards
amended to get round problems.
Received on Sunday, 22 April 2001 06:23:31 UTC

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