Re: BGSOUND, no need for it

Paul Prescod (papresco@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca)
Sat, 24 Aug 1996 06:24:02 -0400


Date: Sat, 24 Aug 1996 06:24:02 -0400
Message-Id: <199608241024.GAA18264@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca>
To: "Jason O'Brien" <jaobrien@fttnet.com>, www-style@w3.org, www-html@w3.org
From: Paul Prescod <papresco@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca>
Subject: RE: BGSOUND, no need for it

At 04:23 PM 8/23/96 CDT, you wrote:
>Why NOT have a BGSOUND tag?   

BGSOUND, like BGCOLOR, should be a style-sheet thing. I cannot imagine a
circumstance where a sound that starts playing when a page is downloaded
could be considered anything other than fluff. If a sound is important to
the meaning of a web page, it should be embedded or linked to so that the
user is in control of when it plays. If the meaning of the sound isn't
important enough for you to allow the user that control, then it is just
presentation and should be in the style sheet.

> Microsoft has shown how easily it can be   
>added to rendering and how efficiently it can be used -- I think a   
>rendering tag for background sound or music when a page opens is a very   
>good and useful feature to add without even having to mess with java --   
>when you say that BGSOUND shouldn't even be a part of HTML, then what   
>about EMBED or IMG -- why have images inserted with HTML, according to   
>your argument?   

Embedded images or objects COULD be crucial information in a Web page.
Although web developers should work their butt off to be cross-platform,
some content requires multimedia features. An art gallery without pictures
is not very meaningful. That is why <EMBED SRC="mysound.wav"> is also very
important. The ALT content of the EMBED and IMG tags allow users to know
what they are missing so that they can decide whether to download it or not.
BGSOUND is a completely different thing, because it is presentation, not
content.

>BGSOUND is simply another object embedding such as an   
>image which I believe is the purpose of HTML -- rendering applies not   
>only to text, but to multimedia as well 

But BGSOUNDs are not embedded. They are a stylistic property of the
presentation of the page. 

>-- and a person without a sound   
>card simply doesn't hear the sound -- they couldn't use multimedia in the   
>first place.   

So you don't mind that they will lose the sound without getting any ALT
text? Clearly, then, you either intend to use the BGSOUND element for
presentation, not for serious content, or you intend for your pages to
degrade poorly on non-multimedia computers. Either one goes against the
goals of HTML.

>A standard HTML tag for background sound to play wav, au,   
>midi, and any others is very much needed to enhance web page design   
>allowing a seamless integration of multimedia.

"Tags" are always supposed to define structure. BGSOUND is a presentational
attribute. It might make sense to make it an attribute of BODY, or a CSS
property of BODY. As a CSS property, it could be used more generally, for
instance as a way of "attaching" sound to hypertext links, or even to page
actions: I could imagine properties like:

page-load-sound
page-leave-sound
follow-internal-link-sound
follow-external-link-sound
while-page-downloads-sound

You could even have a different sound for every link on your page.

Once sounds were in a stylesheet, the user could enable or disable them
selectively by overriding the stylesheet. You could also use the same
"soundsheet" for hundreds of pages on a web site, and change them all in one
central location.

Finally, the style-sheet mechanism allows background sounds to be added to
any SGML DTD, not just HTML. All in all, style sheets are the best place to
put background sounds.

 Paul Prescod