Tooltips vs. ALT in IMG (was Re: Questionable implementation of

Rob (
Sat, 24 Jan 1998 01:20:00 -0500

Message-Id: <>
From: "Rob" <>
To: Colin F Reynolds <>
Date: Sat, 24 Jan 1998 01:20:00 -0500
In-reply-to: <>
Subject: Tooltips vs. ALT in IMG (was Re: Questionable implementation of 

On 18 Jan 98, 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?
> 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)?

A good point!

It should be made clear in the specs about how ALT text is used.

MSIE 4 handles the TITLE attribute as a tooltip for other tags (like 
SPAN and A). Possibly Netscape and others will add the same in the next 
versions. It would be nice if the W3 specified how an agent should handle 
tooltips when ALT and TITLE exist for the same element.

A LONGDESC attribute would be a good thing (consistent and useful) to add 
for IMG and OBJECT, since it exists for FRAME and IFRAME now.

CSS attributes for handling tooltips would be a nice thing, BTW. It would
be nice to control some font attributes and color of tooltips. Something 

  :title {
    font-style: italic;
    font-size: x-small;
    background: white;
    color: gray;

How to assign CLASSes and IDs to an attribute rather than an element in 
CSS I don't know. Has that been thought about yet?


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