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RE: Betsie and other text only conversion applications

From: Wayne Myers <wayne.myers@bbc.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 20:27:04 -0000
Message-ID: <6F99E54D359CD3119FAF0001FA7ED9500178FDE1@w12wcedxu02.wc.bbc.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Hi David,

Thankyou for this posting.

In general, it is probably more appropriate to send problems with Betsie (or
with the accessibility of the BBC site) directly to me rather than to the
WAI list.

> - important detail is missing in text only pages (the low graphics
>   version of the Moneybox site, for example, contains a candidate
>   link to a transcripts page (a real link to the specific transcript
>   would have been better), but the actual link to the transcripts
>   page only appears as text as graphics in the high graphics page and
>   is not reflected in the text only page);

Betsie creates an on-the-fly text only version of everything on bbc.co.uk.
However, the News site chooses not to link to it directly, since they have
their own 'low graphics' version of their own site that predates Betsie by
some two years. I shall pass your concerns here on to the people doing the
Moneybox site - however, the problem you describe has nothing to do with
Betsie directly (sounds like a missing ALT attribute to me). Despite the
lack of direct link, Betsie users may already know that they can still
access the News site if they are already using Betsie when they enter it -
simply follow the links from any Betsified page to 'News' and you are there.

> - total failures (the text only version of the Today program home page
>   has returned a "no-content" browser diagnostics on two occasions
>   a few weeks apart - I've never had it work - I did do a 
> webmaster report,
>   but there was no reply);

Thankyou for pointing this out. This one is totally my fault. I have tracked
it down to a stupid bug in the current live version of Betsie which has been
causing this problem under certain circumstances, depending on how Betsie is
called, and I will endeavour to have it fixed as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the Betsie version of the Today page works fine for me here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-bin/education/betsie/parser.pl/0005/www.bbc.co.uk/r
adio4/today/index.shtml

Other urls to the Today page through Betsie may contain characters that
Betsie currently deems 'illegal', hence the bug (and the fix...)

> - sluggishness - all the pages are dynamic, even though they have
>   essentially static contents, or contents with largely predictable 
>   update times, so will not cache, even in the browser.

The sluggishness is a known issue not unrelated to the very large number of
hits that the BBC sites currently get, and is nothing that can be solved
directly through Betsie - this does, alas, lead also to the occasional page
timing out. However, a caching system would not be trivial to implement, and
it would first be necessary to demonstrate that the extra overhead of the
system itself was worth the benefit it would provide.

If you can come up with a system of predicting exactly when BBC web
producers will update their webpages, I'd be glad to hear of it. Perhaps we
could take that line of discussion off this list - it may not help Betsie
much but we may come up with the first truly random random number generator.

Cheers etc.,

Wayne

Wayne Myers
Betsie Project
BBC Interactive Factual and Learning
http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/betsie/

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Received on Monday, 29 January 2001 15:27:11 GMT

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