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Re: Language choice for default Web page

From: Tex Texin <tex@i18nguy.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2002 22:07:31 -0400
Message-ID: <3D926BE3.8401EA31@i18nGuy.com>
To: Martin Duerst <duerst@w3.org>
CC: ysavourel@translate.com, www-international@w3.org


Actually, looking at the section of the spec Yves pointed to, it refers
to user agents and search engines using that information, not web

"User agents, search engines, etc. may interpret these link types in a
variety of ways. For example, user agents may provide access to linked
documents through a navigation bar."

Based on what is written I think Yves is not far off the mark. The
suggestion that the decision be automated is a bit of a leap, but not
unreasonable. I think the media type alternative links are selected
automatically for a given media, so why shouldn't language be automated
if the browser has been given language preferences of the user?

It's not clear to me that these links have to do with http language
negotiation, since the browser has the information it needs to determine
which language link to use. Also, presumably the author would not create
links for pages that did not exist, so an agent-server negotiation is
not needed to match existing pages to requests that might be for
languages that don't exist.

Is that wrong?


Martin Duerst wrote:
> Hello Yves,
> At 10:21 02/09/25 -0600, Yves Savourel wrote:
> >Hello,
> >
> >According the HTML specification
> >(http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/types.html#type-links), if I add the following
> >meta element to my index.htm page (served by an ISP I don't have control
> >over)
> >
> >  <link rel="alternate" lang="fr" href="index_fr.htm" hreflang="fr"/>
> >
> >shouldn't then the default page be automatically redirected to index_fr.htm
> >if I point to the root of the web site without specifying a page and if my
> >browser has its preference settings listing FR as its first choice?
> Well, it may be that a very 'intellingent' Web server would do so,
> but I don't know any Web server that would actually do it.
> To set things on the server, you have to use server-specific
> settings.
> The purpose of the <link> statement above is that browsers can
> somehow show to the user: This page is also available in French.
> The actual handling depends on the browser, many of them may
> not show it.
> >It doesn't seem to work on IE 6 or NN 7. (although the pages have also their
> >language-content set properly, and the lang attribute set).
> Okay, so you think that it's not the server that should serve
> the French version directly, but the browser should download
> the document and say 'hey, this says that there is a French
> version here, so I'll get that and show it instead'.
> This is again not what's supposed to happen, because with such
> a system, it would be impossible for you to have a look at the
> current non-English page. Language negotiation isn't supposed
> to forbid you to see other language versions, just to get
> to your preferred version first.
> >- I am mis-interpreting the specification?
> yes.
> >- Is it necessary to set something on the server-side as well?
> yes.
> >- Are the browsers simply not support it?
> The various <link /> constructs are indeed not very well supported.
> >In other words: how to get the browser to pick the right language default
> >page when you don't control the server? (and using only standard HTML).
> Change your ISP :-).
> Regards,    Martin.

Tex Texin   cell: +1 781 789 1898   mailto:Tex@XenCraft.com
Xen Master                          http://www.i18nGuy.com
XenCraft		            http://www.XenCraft.com
Making e-Business Work Around the World
Received on Wednesday, 25 September 2002 22:08:03 UTC

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