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Re: Please no browser assembly

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 16:23:01 -0500 (EST)
To: Paul Adelson <paul.adelson@citicorp.com>
cc: WAI UA group <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.04.9812151603580.6043-100000@tux.w3.org>
The problem of User Interface is a difficult one. Some people buy programs
which do everything via a wizard, which asks them simple questions in
natural language and does all the work itself. Some people avoid those
products and will only use products which are based on the model of your
extreme example. Many people fall somewhere in between. As a specific
example, Microsoft Word is popular with some people because it is easy to
use and you don't have to think. It is popular with other people because
it provides a powerful programming interface which can be used to make it
into the word processor that the individual really wants to use. Some
people curse it because it automatically formats text, or recognises HTML
and does conversions. Other people pay the list price specifically to have
those functions.

If we specify too far one way or the other then we are doing a disservice
to the users at the end of the process, and a disservice to manufacturers,
many of whom use their user interface as a major part of product
differentiation.

It seems to me that this approach may be to the detriment of those with
cognitive disabilities. I hope that review of the document by people with
expertise in that area will give us a clearer picture of what the
priorities really are. But it is not easy to reconcile the need for a
simple interface with the need for complex control of extensive
functionality. Different ways of doing this will be tried by different
manufacturers, which will hopefully result in a diversity of browsers
large enough that everybody can find one which suits their needs, or in
browsers which are sufficiently configurable that they suit the needs of
everybody.

--Charles McCathieNevile -  mailto:charles@w3.org
phone:(temporary) +1 (617) 258 8143  http://purl.oclc.org/net/charles

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative -  http://www.w3.org/WAI
545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, USA

On Tue, 15 Dec 1998, Paul Adelson wrote:

  In response to Charles McCathieNevile:
  >>> I would be surprised if any major manufacturers did not provide simple
  interfaces to their products. <<<
  
  Rather than expecting / hoping developers will do what we think they should,
  we should provide clear guidelines. For the conscientious developers much of
  this will be 'low hanging fruit', but for others it will be a wake-up call.
  
  The group has discussed CSS for alternative table rendering and other complex
  processes that go well beyond fonts / colors. If we state that enabling CSS
  support for an alternate rendering style is what a UA needs to do, we are
  _not_ making a clear statement that the user shouldn't need to research and
  reinvent arcane stylesheet code if they want to implement that alternative.
  
  An extreme example: can a vendor who makes their source code available claim
  that their product is therefore 100% accessible and 100% flexible, because all
  it takes to meet specific needs is writing your own code? A developer once
  made a similar claim to me (that his product was compatible with all
  peripherals and major operating systems because you could buy the source code
  and re-write it however you wanted.)
Received on Tuesday, 15 December 1998 16:23:13 GMT

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