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Structure and Accessibility versus SVG

From: Dave J Woolley <DJW@bts.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 11:49:08 +0100
Message-ID: <81E4A2BC03CED111845100104B62AFB582467F@stagecoach.bts.co.uk>
To: "'www-svg@w3.org'" <www-svg@w3.org>
It has always been the case that the standardisation of HTML,
although not its commercial implementation, have been driven by
considerations of structure and accessibility, however, my 
impression of the discussions on this list indicate that most
people are only interested in using SVG for form, and using it
to replace, rather than augment, HTML.

Structure means that the language represents the deep structure
of what is being communicated, rather than the form in which it 
is displayed, spoken, etc.  Accessibility means the ability to
get information out of that content with different mediums and
different levels of technology, to the extent that the nature of
that information doesn't absolutely require a particular medium or
technology.

HTML does need some sort of vector graphics to complement it, as
the use of bit-mapped graphics is more form oriented than structure
oriented in the case of diagrams.  However accessibility considerations
would imply something more like Unix PIC, which gives a more structural
view of the graphics.

On the other hand, the sort of questions being asked here, and my
experience of how commercial HTML users work, suggests that what
people are actually trying to use SVG for is as an animated 
page description language, to replace HTML.  As such it would seem
to belong in the PDF family tree++ more than the HTML one, although
I suspect it will end up with worse accessibility characteristics
than PDF.

As a developer, I am likely to be required to create SVG to take
this PDL role (assuming it becomes well supported by stock 
browsers), but as a consumer of web pages, I would rather it
was limited to enhancing well structured HTML with essentially
diagrammatic material.

++ Note it is my impression that most commercial web pages really
crave after a PDL like PDF, and its failure in this role is more
to do with the fickleness of fashion (and to a small extent the
fact that, in the past, students could hand code HTML, whilst
PDF required paid for authoring tools).  Weirdly, PDF tends to be
used in the parts of web sites which would best meet the ideals of
HTML!

Written in a personal capacity.
Received on Wednesday, 24 May 2000 06:55:37 GMT

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