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Re: Request for review of alt and alt value for authoring or publishing tools

From: Martin Atkins <mart@degeneration.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2008 19:14:12 +0100
Message-ID: <480641F4.20002@degeneration.co.uk>
CC: wai-xtech@w3.org, wai-liaison@w3.org, public-html@w3.org

Jim Jewett wrote:
> (2)  One reason that alt started to see usage was that some browsers
> started treating it as a tooltip.  I'm not aware of any way for normal
> authors to verify their longdesc, short of view source.

On the other hand, it could be argued that the interpretation of alt as 
a tooltip has lead to its widespread misuse. A content management system 
I was once involved with had two text fields in its Insert Image dialog: 
"Alternative Text" and "Image Title". As you'd expect, the former became 
the alt attribute and the latter became the title attribute.

On more than a few occasions customers would report that "image tooltips 
aren't working", and I'd go in and find that they'd put text in the 
"Alternative Text" box but not the "Image Title" box. In a large number 
of these cases, the alternative text was set to things like "Click Here".

(The behavior of this system was to always include the title attribute 
even if the box was empty. The same was not true of the alt attribute, 
which was ommitted if left empty. Thus the above would result in:
    <img src="..." alt="Click Here" title="">
I suppose it could be argued that the behavior of always including 
title="" is sub-optimal, but I considered it better to suppress the 
tool-tip behavior of alt to discourage its misuse in that regard. I note 
also that there is no way provided to say "this image is 
presentational"; even now in retrospect, I'm not sure how I'd make a 
non-confusing UI for that.)
Received on Wednesday, 16 April 2008 20:25:57 UTC

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