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RE: Definition of User Agent - Amendment

From: Hansen, Eric <ehansen@ets.org>
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2000 14:12:31 -0400
To: "'Eric Hansen'" <ehansen7@hotmail.com>, w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
Message-id: <B49B36B1086DD41187DC000077893CFB8B4423@rosnt46.ets.org>
I would amend my earlier definition of "user agent" to make clearer that the
user agent (when referring to the subject of the claim) is about instances
of a "Web browser plus zero or more additional components". The mention of
the word "components" reinforces the concept of components as used in the
document. See my amended language and the original memo are attached below.

New (amended):

> "2. The subject of a conformance claim for this document, 
> i.e., software for 
> which a claim is made.
This subject will ordinarily consist of a Web browser 
plus zero or more additional components.
This is the most common use of the 
> term in this 
> document and is the usage in the _checkpoints_. A _conforming 
> user agent_ is 
> a user agent for which the claim is _valid_. In order to 
> emphasize this 
> second meaning of user agent, this document instead sometimes 
> uses the term 
> 'subject' or 'subject of the claim'.> 

-----Original Message-----
> From: Eric Hansen [mailto:ehansen7@hotmail.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2000 7:06 PM
> To: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
> Cc: ehansen@ets.org
> Subject: Definition of User Agent
> 
> 
> To: UA List
> From: Eric Hansen
> Re: Definition of User Agent
> 
> This memo documents a suggestion that I made to Ian today 
> regarding a change 
> to the definition of "user agent".
> 
> There has arisen a mismatch between the language of the 
> checkpoints and what 
> we have meant by user agents. The checkpoints make 
> requirements for the 
> "user agent" but we really mean "the subject of the claim".
> 
> We also have the general mismatch between the title of the 
> document "_User 
> Agent_ Accessibility Guidelines" and the fact that we are 
> really focusing on 
> only a narrow set of "user agents". For example, the focus is on Web 
> browsers without or without players and helper applications. 
> Furthermore, we 
> really don't expect a singular assistive technology to be 
> evaluated by this 
> document, even though it is technically, as "user agent".
> 
> I propose to change the definition of "user agent" so that 
> that there are 
> two meanings, one meaning user agent in the most general 
> sense and another 
> meaning "the subject of the claim".
> 
> I think that doing so can help bring everything into 
> alignment. With this 
> change, it is perfectly reasonable to use the phrase "user 
> agent" in the 
> checkpoints. Furthermore, the entire document becomes most 
> assuredly about 
> "user agents".
> 
> On a brief perusal of the document, I think that changes to 
> make are very 
> minor, a seemingly small price to pay for long-term 
> consistency and clarity.
> 
> In a sense, all this change does is formalize what we have 
> already done in 
> the checkpoints -- allowed the term 'user agent' to refer to 
> the subject of 
> the claim.
> 
> The main changes as I see them are as follows.
> 
> Change 1: Change the definition of user agent.
> 
> Old (29 September 2000):
> 
> "User agent"
> "A user agent is software that retrieves and renders Web 
> content, including 
> text, graphics, sounds, video, images, and other content 
> types. A user agent 
> may require additional user agents that handle some types of 
> content. For 
> instance, a browser may run a separate program or plug-in to 
> render sound or 
> video. User agents include graphical desktop browsers, 
> multimedia players, 
> text browsers, voice browsers, and assistive technologies 
> such as screen 
> readers, screen magnifiers, speech synthesizers, onscreen 
> keyboards, and 
> voice input software."
> 
> New:
> 
> "User agent"
> "In this document, the term 'user agent' is used in two ways."
> "1. Any software that retrieves and renders Web content for 
> users. This may 
> include Web browsers, media players, plug-ins, and other programs -- 
> including assistive technologies -- that help in retrieving 
> and rendering 
> Web content."
> "2. The subject of a conformance claim for this document, 
> i.e., software for 
> which a claim is made. This is the most common use of the 
> term in this 
> document and is the usage in the _checkpoints_. A _conforming 
> user agent_ is 
> a user agent for which the claim is _valid_. In order to 
> emphasize this 
> second meaning of user agent, this document instead sometimes 
> uses the term 
> 'subject' or 'subject of the claim'.
> 
> ========
> 
> Change 2: Fix the _explanation_ of our use of the term "user 
> agent" in the 
> checkpoints.
> 
> Old (29 September 2000):
> 
> "Each checkpoint definition includes:"
> 
> "(bullet) The checkpoint number."
> "(bullet) The statement of the checkpoint. The statement of 
> the checkpoint 
> is one or more requirements that must be met by the subject 
> of a conformance 
> claim. For readability, the checkpoints refer to a single 
> "user agent", but 
> the subject of the conformance claim may consist of several software 
> components."
> 
> 
> New:
> 
> "Each checkpoint definition includes:"
> 
> "(bullet) The checkpoint number."
> "(bullet) The statement of the checkpoint. The statement of 
> the checkpoint 
> is one or more requirements that must be met by the user 
> agent (i.e., the 
> subject of a conformance claim). As emphasized earlier, the 
> user agent may 
> consist of several software components."
> 
> ====
> 
> Change 3: Possibly reduce reliance on the phrase "subject of 
> the claim" and 
> its variants.
> 
> One could possibly reduce reliance on the term 'subject of 
> the claim' and 
> its variants in Sections 3, but I don't know that it is 
> essential. As noted 
> in the definition, we sometimes use the terms ('subject', 
> etc.) to make 
> clear that we are referring to the second meaning of the term.
> 
> <END OF MEMO>
> 
> 
> 
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Received on Wednesday, 11 October 2000 14:13:16 GMT

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