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

From: Access Systems <accessys@smart.net>
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2003 09:17:49 -0500 (EST)
To: Harry Woodrow <harrry@email.com>
Cc: "'David Woolley'" <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.21.0312030915470.21025-100000@smart.net>

On Wed, 3 Dec 2003, Harry Woodrow wrote:

> 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

however some web browsers do not automatically word wrap, especially when
sending a reply.   

> 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.
as you say I don't believe there is any "RULE" per se but common courtesy
would dictate a line length that can be used by any browser.


> 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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