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Re: HTML Action Item 54 - ...draft text for HTML 5 spec to require producers/authors to include @alt on img elements.

From: Sam Kuper <sam.kuper@uclmail.net>
Date: Sat, 10 May 2008 15:40:07 +0100
Message-ID: <4126b3450805100740mf9046cl276405cf040e6777@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Justin James" <j_james@mindspring.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org, "W3C WAI-XTECH" <wai-xtech@w3.org>, wai-liaison@w3.org
2008/5/9 Justin James <j_james@mindspring.com>:

> Not bonkers in the slightest, from the aspect of "semantic Web".


My understanding of the semantic web is that it is an extension of the web.
If you want to create semantic web content, you probably need to use
technologies other than HTML. Typically, you will use XML languages which
will be (more) machine-verifiable.


> If there are swaths of the spec which cannot be machine-verified, or which
> are easy (sometimes, even advantageous) to use inappropriately (but still
> schema-correct), then let's get rid of this goal of "semantic Web" now, and
> let's get rid of the "accessibility" goal.


No, let's not. The semantic web, and accessibility, are achievable without
every part of the HTML5 spec needing to be machine-verifiable.

We have a binary choice:
>
1) Retain the inclusion of <p>, <h1>, and other "semantic" elements. Of
> course, none of them are anything other than <div>, <span>, etc. with a
> semantic meaning associated with them in the spec, and an unspoken default
> styling that the browser vendors have all agreed upon.
> 2) Remove the "semantic" elements, and only use <div>, <span>, etc. with
> ARIA (or ARIA-like) descriptors to indicate their semantic purpose (for
> example: <div purpose="paragraph"> to replace <p>).
>
> If we are going to go with choice #1, fine. In that case, I propose that we
> DUMP @alt, and replace it with a million permutations that are specific,
> like, "@alt_click", "@transcript", an  whatever else we think would be
> appropriate. After all, if we can have a bunch of variants of <div>, <span>,
> etc. all meant to provide semantic value (with no way of validating the
> correct usage), then why not start doing the same with attributes too?
>
> But if we go with option #2, now we are looking at a system that makes a
> heck of a lot more sense, and forces HTML authors (both human and automated)
> to carefully consider what they are doing. If you make everything a
> "semantic-less" tag, with 1 or 2 attributes (ARIA, or something like it)
> that are *required*, then it means that the semantics and the styling are
> (finally!) fully separated, as the goal has been since HTML 4.
>

Except that if I use an <div purpose="paragraph"> , there's still no way to
machine-verify that its contents are not, in fact, a heading. So you'd just
be moving the "problem" (of non-machine-verifiability) along, not solving
it. You'd also make HTML code a lot less readable, and much more
time-consuming to type.

So I still think it's bonkers. Maybe there's a point I'm missing here, but I
don't think so.

Best regards,

Sam
Received on Saturday, 10 May 2008 14:40:48 GMT

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