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RE: To be or not to be...an alt tag, that is the question

From: Harry Woodrow <harrry@email.com>
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2003 16:19:12 +0800
To: "'David Woolley'" <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000001c3b976$2358fda0$71b53bcb@harry>

This comes back to the conclusion that there is no actual standard.
I know that 80 characters was the width of an IBM card, but they have
gone the way of the looms they controlled.
79 was the number of characters that could be displayed on some old
teminals as one had to be kept for the edges, but few people are using
green terminals any more.
The only standard I can find is: the internet email protocols clearly
permit line lengths up to 1000 characters (rfc 821)..
Forcing line breaks prevents the receiver from allowing software to
effectively word wrap the text.  For instance I use a screen which could
display several hundred characters but I use a narrow window for email
which allows effective reading even with an enlarged font size in much
the same way as a newspaper column allows efficient reading.
Keeping to old preferences is probably not a valid reason and if
standards are quoted as the reason others should comply with someone's
preference it seems reasonable to expect that the actual standard does
exist and can be demonstrated.

Harry Woodrow


-----Original Message----, 
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of David Woolley
Sent: Wednesday, 3 December 2003 3:59 
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: To be or not to be...an alt tag, that is the question


> 
> What standard refers to 79 characters.

It dates back to the days when you didn't need to have legal documents
for everything as users and software developers understood certain
things without being told.

The main standards issue is that a lot of GUI email programs don't make
it clear that when they wrap a displayed line it is an error recovery
behaviour, not a means to produce reflowable paragraphs (I suspect the
authors of such programs don't know that either).  In particular,
= at the end of a MIME quoted-printable encoded line means append the
next line without starting a newline; it is not a soft newline.

For non quoted-printable material, whilst not a standard, the limit
is implicit in the use of = to break up long lines at that sort of
length, and is, I think, explained in the rationale for that standard.

The actual reccommended length, taken from USENET guideline documents
for
new users (try news:news.announce.newusers), is more like 73 characters,
which allows for a few generations of quoting with prefixed "> ". but
GUI email programs tend to result in non-interleaved responses, anyway.

(When people write their paragraphs all on one line, you sill sometimes
find that I re-wrap them and use a different prefix character after
the arbitrary breaks in the line that I have introduced.)


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Received on Wednesday, 3 December 2003 03:20:02 GMT

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