Re: Questionable implementation of IMG ALT attribute as tooltips

Tim Bagot (
Mon, 19 Jan 1998 13:54:45 +0000 (GMT)

Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 13:54:45 +0000 (GMT)
From: Tim Bagot <>
To: HTML mailing list <>
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-ID: <>
Subject: Re: Questionable implementation of IMG ALT attribute as tooltips

On Sun, 18 Jan 1998, Colin F Reynolds wrote:

> My apologies if this has already been discussed here before (I haven't
> seen it).
> Am I, or am I not, correct in assuming that the intention of the ALT
> attribute of the IMG tag is to provide ALTernative (textual) content in
> the event that the image to which the tag refers is unavailable?

Or the browser is not displaying images.
> If this is the case, then isn't the implementation of ALT text as
> tooltips a design flaw in the user agent, which should be removed at the
> earliest opportunity (so as to reduce the amount of content in place on
> the WWW which makes use of this flaw)?

Quite possibly.

> Has the ALT attribute been hijacked in this way because of an ambiguity
> in its definition? If so, I move to resolve the ambiguity.
> I agree that, since _some_ images are used as hyperlinks, tooltips may
> be appropriate for those images. If this is deemed a useful enhancement,
> then in order to cater for this, one backwards-compatible solution which
> I can see is the simple addition of a TOOLTIP attribute to the IMG
> element for use in those cases.

Or, use the existing TITLE attribute of the A element.

> As things stand, attempting to create hypertext content which caters for
> a conflicting interpretation of the ALT attribute is, well, it's driving
> me nuts, for one thing :)
> -- 
> Colin Reynolds
> "I know you believe you understand what you thought I said, but
> I'm not sure you realize that what you heard was not what I meant!"

Tim Bagot