W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > August 1996

Images as alternatives to text instead of the reverse

From: Stephanos Piperoglou <stephanos@hol.gr>
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 1996 01:37:00 +0300 (EET DST)
To: www-style@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.960821011553.1489A-100000@trillian.hol.gr>
I think you must have noticed (and possibly, as I have, occasinally done
this) that it is relatively common practise to replace portions of text in
HTML documents with graphics.

The most common use of this is to stylize a) headings b) anchor text. The
use of ALT attriutes, of course, is common and preferred practise also, and
usually such entities are usually rendered nicely if the user agent does not
display images.

However, it strikes me that this is a decidedly *presentational* feature
rather a structural one, and thus, in my view, is one of the things that
should be moved away from HTML.

I'll give an exaple: I've called my personal homepage "WorldPort" and I've
created a charachteristic logo for it, which is used for a title. Also, in
one older version of the document, every instance of the word "WorldPort" in
the document was replaced by a small image that was the logo of the page.
(Understandably this didn't look good on *any* browser, thought it may well
be so withh CSS since I would be able to specify image size in terms of text
height). Also the document body starts with:

<H1 ALIGN=center><IMG SRC="images/worldport_logo-big.jpg"
ALT="WorldPort"></H1>

This is nice, usually. When the image is displayed, it is shown as the
title, and when it is not, the ALT text is rendered as Heading 1 text. (on
an aside: is this correct and expected browser behaviour?)

However, the image itself is a redundancy when it comes to the structure of
the information on the page. Nevertheless it would be impossible to render
it using style sheets, no matter what the face, shadow, bold etc. attributes
where. Some times these logos are distorted so as they no longer are text in
a straight line, of a single color and of the same size.

This use of inline images is probably a misuse. Inline images are mainly
used to provide information (for instance, my photograph on my homepage just
shows how I look, it doesn't replace text. Displaying it inline is just an
option, because it is more of a reference rather than something one would
view seperately - and I'm not a very admirable person physically at that
:-)).

What I thought of as I was reading the CSS1 spec just now, was that this
kind of use of inline images is really a *proposed method of rendering*
rather than part of the information contained in the document, hense in the
domain of stylesheets. So I was wondering wether it would be a good idea to
include in CSS1 to replace an element with an image, rather than doing the
opposite in HTML. So I could have

<H1 CLASS="H1.worldport">WorldPort</H1>

or

<H1 STYLE="altimage: images/worldport_logo-big.jpg">WorldPort</H1>

(sorry if I'm getting the syntax wrong, my only experience with CSS is
through the specs) and a style-sheet aware browser that displays images
would display the image specifed instead of the text. Any other User Agent
would identify the content of the heading for what it is, i.e. the word
"WorldPort".

Well, that's it. What does everyone think? Would this be useful? Feasible?
Utter piffle?

= Stephanos Piperoglou = stephanos@hol.gr = http://users.hol.gr/~stephanos/ =
  Four lines in a .sig can't say enough about why you should visit my page!
"I want peace on earth and good will toward man"
"We're the United States Government, we don't do that sort of thing!"
                                    [ from the film "Sneakers" ]

                                                       ...oof porothika! (tm)
Received on Tuesday, 20 August 1996 18:38:24 GMT

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