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RE: Clarification needed on ALT/TITLE tooltips

From: Asbjørn Ulsberg <asbjorn.ulsberg@nrk.no>
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 13:59:48 +0200
Message-ID: <D186E3C450FED2119AFA00508B08736F06E938DF@MAEXCH05>
To: "'Brian Bober'" <netdemonz@yahoo.com>
Cc: www-html@w3.org

Brian Bober wrote:

> I would like you to say that ALT shouldn't be displayed as
> a tooltip but simply as a replacement for a missing image
> by default by a user-agent, and only title should.

That's right.

> I would also like you to provide more extensive examples
> on proper ALT and TITLE strings. That way, we can get rid
> of the inconsistancy between user agents, webdesign
> software, etc.

I agree that more examples on "best practices" should be
provided. This goes for all specifications, not only W3C's

> Bug 25537 (http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=25537 -
> "alt text is not displayed as a tooltip") on bugzilla.mozilla
> .org is about ALT Tooltips not being shown as tooltips, yet
> Title tooltips are.

Well, this isn't a bug. It's a faulty behavior in Internet
Explorer that ALT texts are displayed as tooltips. Because
of this faulty behavior, people believe that the ALT text is
in fact a tooltip, and not an ALTernative Text for the image.

The TITLE text is rather a tooltip; it can be used to
describe the image richer than the ALT text, and might be
displayed as a yellow little tooltip label as in Internet

> Since ALT is meant as a replacement for images, and TITLE is
> meant as a title for the image, Mozilla behaves correctly
> because it displays TITLE as tooltips, but ALT only as a
> replacement for an image that didn't load or was blocked.


> The problem is that older browsers didn't behave properly

Well, "older" isn't quite right. Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1 also
has this behavior, I'm afraid.

> and web authors are reluctant to update their site,
> especially since IE will display ALT as a tooltip if no TITLE
> is avalailable.

The solution, if you don't want ALT texts to display as tooltips,
is to provide an empty TITLE text for your images. Then the TITLE
text will display instead of the ALT text, and since it's empty,
it won't display at all.

> Therefore, Mozilla displays incorrect behavior to authors that
> don't know any better.

Then the challenge is to educate these authors so they
understand better that ALT is an abbreviation for "alternative",
and how to use the ALT text in a right manner. Also, it's important
to fix the bug in IE with proper use of the TITLE attribute, to
control where you want a tooltip to display and not.

> This is further compounded by sites that incorrectly describe
> the functionality of ALT and TITLE attributes, along with web
> authoring software that doesn't support TITLE. 

This is a deadly sin, and I have no idea how to fix this, other
than providing good examples in the spec.

Asbjørn Ulsberg           -=|=-          X-No-Archive: No
"He's a loathsome offensive brute, yet I can't look away"
Received on Tuesday, 24 June 2003 08:00:03 UTC

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