W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > March 2008

Re: Title attribute and css selectors

From: Brad Kemper <brkemper@comcast.net>
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2008 09:26:40 -0700
Message-Id: <C521CC04-FB0E-429C-927A-4BC81CE066F6@comcast.net>
Cc: www-style@w3.org
To: David Woolley <forums@david-woolley.me.uk>

On Mar 16, 2008, at 4:50 AM, David Woolley wrote:

> Lorenzo De Tomasi wrote:
>> Is it possible with css to select a visible attribute like title=""
>> and apply a new style to it?
> I think this is a "how to" question, and therefor off topic, so I  
> probably shouldn't answer it.
> Conceptually, title is only a visible attribute because your  
> browser ahs a style sheet rule that generates an absolutely  
> positioned virtual box based on a selector that includes the  
> presence of the attribute and :hover status for the parent element.
> I'm not sure that CSS is yet capable of actually representing that  
> style sheet fragment, but if it were, you would need to either find  
> out what the browser's relevant user agent style sheet said and put  
> in appropriate overrides for that, or you would need to essentially  
> completely redefine that fragment.  The latter is particularly  
> undesirable because it may be completely inconsistent with the  
> user's browser's way of handling title.

Undesirable? So? Authors have the power to control what text, if any,  
is used in the title attribute, or can leave it blank and generate  
pseudo-tooltips of their own using some other means. It may be  
undesirable for you, but fortunately authors do not need to consult  
you before implementing their choices.

I don't think it is unreasonable to follow the same pattern of  
allowing some restyling of UI elements, and suggest that UAs start  
implementing tooltips in a way that allows authors to restyle them.  
You wouldn't need to know the browser's default style sheet. It would  
presumably look something like this:

*[title]:not([title=""):before { content: attr(title);  
appearance:tooltip }

The appearance would include position information, color, font,  
opacity, box-shadow, etc. Then if an author had a mostly yellow  
layout, and wanted the tooltip to stand out against it better, the  
author could change the background color or thicken the border in  
page's style sheet:

*[title]:not([title=""):before { background-color: purple; border- 
width:3px; }

> In practice, GUI browsers don't implement title using style sheets  
> but either directly use the GUI's tool tip mechanism or simulate IE/ 
> Windows use of the Windows tooltip mechanism.
> Finally note that HTML only requires that the contents of title be  
> made available to users to clarify the intent of an element; it  
> doesn't mandate how that should be done.  On a non-GUI browser, it  
> would be unreasonable, or impossible, to use a popup and the  
> standard handling on a GUI one might actually be to display the  
> information in the window or screen status area.

All the more reason not to discourage authors from using the title  
attribute for their hand-rolled tool-tips (currently, an all-CSS  
solution using the title attribute for the content results in 2  
tooltips: the author's styled version, and the automatic UI one).

>> For example, in <a href="http://index.html" title="Go to the
>> homepage">Homepage</a>
> That's a bad example.  Titles are generally nouns, especially for  
> links, so there is no need for "Go to", and the rest of the title  
> adds nothing to the link name.  Typically, on a link (used in the  
> role of a link), title should be similar to the contents of the  
> title element.

I think that is a "how to write title tags" answer, and therefor off  

>> background-color for the 'title box' that appears when i do a  
>> rollover
>> on the link or the image (Firefox default is a black text on a yellow
>> background box).
> Black on yellow is the Windows user interface default for tool  
> tips; I'm not sure if Windows allows you to override that, or if it  
> does, whether it allows you to override it other than for the whole  
> user interface.
> (There have been proposals for making tool tips a specific style,  
> on the base element, rather than constructing them from basic  
> principles using absolutely positioned generated boxes.  I'm not  
> sure whether those proposals are in CSS3 at the moment.)
> -- 
> David Woolley
> Emails are not formal business letters, whatever businesses may want.
> RFC1855 says there should be an address here, but, in a world of spam,
> that is no longer good advice, as archive address hiding may not work.
Received on Sunday, 16 March 2008 16:27:20 UTC

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