W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-validator@w3.org > August 2002

Re: ideas for alternative text

From: Thanasis Kinias <tkinias@optimalco.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2002 10:02:22 -0700
To: Jim Ley <jim@jibbering.com>
Cc: www-validator@w3.org
Message-ID: <20020820170222.GB22481@optimalco.com>

scripsit Jim Ley:
 
> "Glenn Kusardi" <gkmail@stylix.de> wrote in message
> news:3312953976.20020820134540@stylix.de...

> > See above... There are two attributes available: "title" which
> > _should_ be displayed as tool tip and should provide a _additional_
> > description to a picture and "alt" which _should_ only displayed if
> > the image itself can't be shown and should provide a "image-replacing"
> > description.
> 
> No, displaying more than one representation at the same time (the ALT,
> and the image) can be very helpful to some users (it's something I find
> extremely useful for images I don't understand, and for this reason on
> mouseover my browser, displays TITLE and ALT, and is one of the reasons
> why Mozilla is basically inaccessible to me.)  So whilst yes in general
> what you say is a good suggestion for default rendering - there's nothing
> wrong with showing ALT when there is not a TITLE attribute. Should in
> your description is excessive, I don't like disobeying _should_s but

There's nothing wrong with a UA providing an option for belt-and-braces
display -- sort of like GUI apps giving the option of displaying text
and icons on the icon bar -- but it should not be the default.  I agree
with OP that MSIE's and NS4's use of alt text that way is often
distracting; on a graphically-intensive page I've occasionally found
myself scooting the mouse around trying to find a `safe' place to rest
it while I read the content.

Mozilla oughtn't be inaccessible to Jim, however.  IIRC (I mostly use
Galeon now -- the best general-purpose GUI browser) you can get all of
`alt', `title', and `longdesc' content by checking out the image
properties.  On Windows or X, right-click on the image and select
Properties.  If it's also a link, you might need to go to the second
tab.  If you have difficulties, file a bug:  this isn't Microsoft, it's
Open Source, so you _do_ have some say.

The use everyone is describing for `title' on <img> is precisely what
`longdesc' is for.  The difference is that `title' is an attribute,
which greatly limits what can go in it.  `longdesc' points to a URI and
can contain the full panoply of markup.  For legacy support, I always
use the form:

<img src="foo.png" alt="[photo of a foo-bird]"
    longdesc="foo.longdesc.html" /><a 
    href="foo.longdesc.html" class="dlink">d</a>

where CSS makes the `d' invisible to the sighted GUI user by setting its
colour to the background colour.  If you've ever tried to make text
equivalent to a flowchart, you'd realize how inadequate `title' is to
the task.

I happen to be generally ill-disposed to the title attribute, perhaps
because of its early use to `hide' the destination URI of links from
display on Netscape's status bar.  I'd like to know that this document
is on www.youngasianvirgins.com _before_ I follow it.  Therefore, I
never use the title attrib so as to ``avoid even the appearance of
impropriety.''

Just my two drachmae . . .

-- 
Thanasis Kinias
Doctoral Student, Department of History
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona, U.S.A.

Ash nazg durbatulūk, ash nazg gimbatul,
Ash nazg thrakatulūk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul
Received on Tuesday, 20 August 2002 13:02:29 GMT

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