Re: Questionable implementation of IMG ALT attribute as tooltips

James Green (
Mon, 19 Jan 1998 14:47:05 +0000 (GMT)

From: James Green <>
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 14:47:05 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Re: Questionable implementation of IMG ALT attribute as tooltips

On Sun, 18 Jan 1998 10:47:59 -0500 (EST) Colin F Reynolds 
<> wrote:

> 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 that the browser isn't displayng pictures.

> 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)?

Whilst not specified as being what should happen, there is absolutely 
no reason why browsers should show this. In fact, if you saw a picture 
of somone, and the text didn't tell you who it was, then using ALT to 
describe the name might in fact be useful.

I can certainly see no disadvantaged to the implementation.

> 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.

The title attribute is for this.

> 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 :)

Don't go nuts over it. Use HTML as described by the W3C and you will 
have no problem. In fact, attempting to compensate for particular 
browsers is definetely *not* the author's job.


James Green

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