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APIs

From: Hansen, Eric <ehansen@ets.org>
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2000 11:44:38 -0400
To: "UA List (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>
Message-id: <B49B36B1086DD41187DC000077893CFB8B4430@rosnt46.ets.org>
I am trying to sort the world of APIs as presented in the document. I find
it somewhat confusing to sort out the references the "APIs", "standard
APIs", "standard input APIs", and W3C DOM (which is a kind of standard API,
both input and output, I suppose).

Is there any time that we refer to APIs in the document that we DON'T mean
"standard APIs"? If we _always_ mean "standard APIs" then we should either
always say that or factor out the word "standard" and then link to a fuller
explanation in the glossary.

We have part of a definition of "standard APIs" in checkpoint 5.4:

"5.4 Provide programmatic read and write access to user agent user interface
controls using standard APIs (e.g., platform-independent APIs such as the
W3C DOM, standard APIs for the operating system, and conventions for
programming languages, plug-ins, virtual machine environments, etc.)
[Priority 1] 
Note: For example, provide access to information about the user agent's
current input configuration so that assistive technologies can trigger
functionalities through keyboard events, mouse events, etc."

Thus "standard APIs" include: "platform-independent APIs such as the W3C
DOM, standard APIs for the operating system, and conventions for programming
languages, plug-ins, virtual machine environments, etc."

We should probably consolidate the existing definitions for "API" and
"Standard device APIs" (see below):

"Application Programming Interface (API)"
"An application programming interface (API) defines how communication may
take place between applications."

"Standard device APIs"
"Operating systems are designed to be used by default with devices such as
pointing devices, keyboards, voice input, etc. The operating system (or
windowing system) provides "standard APIs" for these devices. On desktop
computers today, the standard input APIs are for the mouse and keyboard. For
touch screen devices or mobile devices, standard input APIs may include
stylus, buttons, voice, etc. The graphical display and sound card are
considered standard ouput devices for a graphical desktop computer
environment, and each has a standard API."

I presume that this is basically an editorial issue, but I highlight this
because if there is the inconsistency that I think might exist, then fixing
it would slightly change the wording of many checkpoints.

===========================
Eric G. Hansen, Ph.D.
Development Scientist
Educational Testing Service
ETS 12-R
Princeton, NJ 08541
609-734-5615 (Voice)
E-mail: ehansen@ets.org
(W) 609-734-5615 (Voice)
FAX 609-734-1090
Received on Thursday, 12 October 2000 11:44:44 GMT

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