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Re: Frames & Font Sizes (was Re: 10.4 Re: Checkpoints 10.4 and 10.5)

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2001 23:05:19 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200106012205.f51M5Jo24885@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> toward frames? You've told me that neither the W3C nor ISO recommends 
> frames, but I haven't been able to get anyone to explain why. Can someone 
> enlighten me?

They are basically incompatible with a web based on URLs which identify
documents.  Note I use "web" in the sense used in World Wide Web, not
that used by Front Page.   You cannot normally link to a page within
a frameset, and have the result meaningful.  Even where you can link to 
the page, you tend to have to be an expert user of the browser before you
can find its URL in the first place.

Some sites resort to scripting to force the frameset if you deep link,
but that usually breaks the deep link by making it always display the
home page, and also breaks the back button.

Conversely they can be used to trick people into thinking that external
material is part of a site, also resulting in scripting to escape the
frameset and break the back button.

They also translate poorly to media which is not pixel addressible (even
Web TV, which is, has to approximate them with tables, even though that
is pixel addressible).

The navigation techniques you describe with Lynx and screen readers are
work arounds for the large numbers of otherwise inaccessible sites, rather
than the logical way of handling frames.

You might want to note that the first line web sites (most of not all search
engines, Microsoft, etc.) have eliminated frames.

Also, from a more commercially oriented point of view, your sort of use
of frames makes you look silly on search engines, e.g. this is what you
get back from altavista if you search for gwmicro:

   1. GW Micro, Inc. Welcome to GW Micro. This page was designed to
   take advantage of HTML frame tags. It appears as if your browser might
   have problems with frames.......
   Last modified: 24 Feb 2000 - 2431 - English

If you do a search on content and get the main page, because it assumes
that it in a frames context it provides no way to navigate up (other
than hand editting the address bar (or cutting and pasting the
non-hyperlinked, partial URL)); this is true even when it claims to have
customised the page for Lynx (which will annoy Lynx users as they expect
to lose features when this happens).  All frames in a frameset, not just
all populated framesets, need to, at the very least, have a link to the
frameset that contains them.
> Regarding the font sizes, in Internet Explorer, the Accessibility option 
> titled "Ignore font sizes specified on Web pages" is a global option, and 
> disregards font sizes for every page, regardless of whether fonts are 

That's the problem.  On pages that use relative font sizes sensibly, the
page is more usable without it turned on, but a page with small, absolute
sizes, needs it turned one.  That means that anyone going to your site
has to turn it on for your site then turn it off again.  I'd probably
be more tempted just to go to the next search engine hit.

PS JPEG is almost always a very bad format for screen shots, e.g. I suspect,
given the original screenshot, I could produce a gif of hotkeys.jpg which
is under 25K, compared with the 150+K of the JPEG image.  Large areas of
solid colour, like the white and gray backgrounds, are contra-indications 
for JPEG.  The only part of the GIF that wouldn't reproduce the original
screen faithfully would be the colour gradient on the Windows title bar.
Received on Friday, 1 June 2001 18:05:34 UTC

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