Re: Questionable implementation of IMG ALT attribute as tooltips

Colin F Reynolds (
Wed, 21 Jan 1998 17:24:53 -0500 (EST)

Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 17:24:53 -0500 (EST)
Message-ID: <>
From: Colin F Reynolds <>
In-Reply-To: <>
Subject: Re: Questionable implementation of IMG ALT attribute as tooltips

In article <>, James Green
<> writes
>On Wed, 21 Jan 1998 06:12:06 -0500 (EST) Colin F Reynolds 
><> wrote:
>> In article <>, James Green
>> <> writes
>> >Don't go nuts over it. Use HTML as described by the W3C and you will 
>> >have no problem.
>> If only that were true... sadly, it depends upon my "using HTML" as
>> described by the W3C to author pages for the WWW, (which I do, to the
>> best of my ability) _together with_ the browser developers doing the
>> same. You may have noticed that whilst I can control the former, the
>> latter is somewhat more troublesome ;)
>No, forget what the browsers do in such a trivial instance.

You may consider it trivial: I call it a serious flaw in the interface,
due to the _impossibility_ of providing wording which serves both as
_alternative_ and _supplementary_ information for the object.

> Unless a 
>popular browser makes a display 'mistake' which has some marked impact 
>on your site, don't worry about it.

This is _exactly_ what is happening. The implementation of ALT-as-popup
in recent versions of the most popular browsers impairs the
functionality of *every* page of *every* site for which I am
responsible. I do not call this "trivial".

I expect that many of the visitors to the sites I maintain are not only
Internet newbies, but are also often barely computer-literate. Providing
misleading, distracting cues is the last thing you must do for such an

I don't like it, which is why I'm trying to find a solution to the

James, if you speak for the W3C (do you?), then I guess I have no
alternative but to throw my hands up in the air in despair (and go nuts

[snippage of irrelevant anecdote]

> 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.

Semantically, ALT text and Tooltips are quite different. The former is,
or _should be_, for use where the image is unavailable (to the user
agent); standard UI practice dictates that the latter should be used to
provide optional _additional_ clues where the image is an hyperlink.

I wish to _markup_ my content appropriately. I cannot. What happened to
the 'M' in HTML?

Colin Reynolds
Q: Will computers ever be able to wreck a nice beach?
And if they do, will they *understand* it?