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Re: hreflang

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2006 13:44:53 +0200 (EET)
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.63.0602061328590.21396@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Mon, 6 Feb 2006, Steven Pemberton wrote:

> Laurens Holst wrote:
>> Jukka K. Korpela schreef:
>>> But it's actually worse than useless when it is incorrect. And the 
>>> destination of a link _may_ change language - perhaps switching to a 
>>> language-negotiated version - without notifying people who link to it.)
>> 
>> Well, I suppose thats what the new definition of hreflang is trying to 
>> avoid. Although Im not sure thats a good idea; Id say the visitor would 
>> obviously prefer the link to be in a language he understands.
>
> Indeed, that is the intention of the new definition.

I'm not sure of what the "new definition" is. I guess it means the 
proposed normative statement:
"user agent must use this list as the field value of the accept-language 
request header when requesting the resource using HTTP"
http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml2/mod-hyperAttributes.html#s_hyperAttributesmodule
This is indeed new as compared to previous versions of HTML, and it would 
be harmful if accepted and implemented.

It would mean overriding the user's preferences, forcing the author's 
guess on them, and probably mostly because the author _did not understand_ 
the issue at all but simply wrote what he regards as useful 
metainformation.

> When you want users to have the version in the languages they choose, you 
> don't use hreflang:
>
> 	<a href="report">The latest version</a>

Indeed.

> but if you want to supply an explicit link to a language version, you can 
> include the attribute:
>
> 	<a href="report" hreflang="nl">The report in Dutch</a>

This would imply that if the language of the linked document is changed, 
the user gets an error message (Not Accepted). But that's actually a minor 
issue. The approach uses an _attribute_ to refer to a specific language 
version, instead of using a specific _URL_.

If the specific language version _has_ a URL, it should be used.
If not, how is the user going to be able to bookmark it, for example? Are 
browsers expected to secretly copy the hreflang attribute in the 
bookmarking process and secretly use it instead of normal user 
preferences.

> I would call this the best of both worlds. It means, for instance, that 
> someone whose preferred language is not Dutch, but who can nevertheless speak 
> Dutch, can get to the Dutch version (for instance to check the translation).

That's certainly a good idea, or indispensable. And it has _always_ been 
possible by using an explicit link to the specific version. This overrides 
the entire language negotiation mechanism, _as it should_ be overridden 
when a specific language version is needed.

-- 
Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Monday, 6 February 2006 11:45:13 GMT

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