Re: Questionable implementation of IMG ALT attribute as tooltips

J-F Pitot de La Beaujardiere (delabeau@iniki.gsfc.nasa.gov)
Wed, 21 Jan 1998 10:06:17 -0500


Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 10:06:17 -0500
Message-Id: <199801211506.KAA26194@iniki.gsfc.nasa.gov>
From: J-F Pitot de La Beaujardiere <delabeau@iniki.gsfc.nasa.gov>
To: jmkgre@essex.ac.uk
CC: www-html@w3.org
In-reply-to: <SIMEON.9801211403.E@sf108.essex.ac.uk> (message from James Green
Subject: Re: Questionable implementation of IMG ALT attribute as tooltips


James Green writes:
> As I said, in the case of ALT, they (the programmers) probably made it a
> tooltip seeing the advantages while there not being any(?) disadvantages.

I think there are disadvantages in some cases.  For example, I use <INPUT
TYPE=IMAGE> to allow users to click on a map and zoom in or navigate.  The
ALT attribute (new for this tag in HTML 4.0 spec[1] and already used by some
UAs including Lynx) directs the user to the text-only option I have provided
as an alternative navigation scheme.  Well, MSIE tries to be helpful by
displaying ALT as a tooltip, which now (1) uselessly informs users who do
load images that they could use text-only mode and (2) obscures the map on
which they're carefully trying to click.  (To see what I mean, visit
http://globe.gsfc.nasa.gov/)

I can, and will, revise my ALT text to account for MSIE's behavior.
However, I think ALT-as-tooltip is problematic and should be eliminated.
The spec says[2] ALT is for "alternate text to serve as content when the
element cannot be rendered normally," not when the element has been
rendered.

NS3 does not display the tooltip.  NS4.04 is perhaps even less helpful,
displaying the NAME attribute of the <INPUT TYPE=IMAGE> as a tooltip.

--Jeff

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/interact/forms.html#input-control-types
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/struct/objects.html#adef-alt

  = J-F Pitot de La Beaujardiere        delabeau@iniki.gsfc.nasa.gov =
  = U. Maryland and NASA Goddard        http://globe2.gsfc.nasa.gov/ =