W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > April 2007

denying users direct access to document source

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 16:15:35 -0400
To: public-html@w3.org
Cc: Jim Allan <jimallan@tsbvi.edu>
Message-Id: <20070413201138.M27748@hicom.net>

this message is in direct response to both chris wilson's post,
archived at:

and the response of dao gottwald, archived at:

which left me with the distinct impression that there is a faction of 
developers and page authors out there who want to deny client-side 
access to document source.

denying access to document source is a clear violation of 
User Agent Accessibility (UAAG) Guideline 2

cite: <http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG/guidelines.html#gl-content-access>
Ensure user access to all content

in particular, Priority 1 Checkpoint 2.2:

cite: <http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG/guidelines.html#tech-doc-source-view>
2.2 Provide text view (P1) 
      1. For contentc authored in text formats, provide a view
         of the text source.

Normative inclusions and exclusions

      1. For the purposes of this checkpoint, a text format is: 
            * any media object given an Internet media type of 
              "text" (e.g., "text/plain", "text/html", or 
              "text/*") as defined in RFC 2046 [RFC2046] 
              section 4.1, or
            * any media object identified by Internet media 
              type to be an XML document (as defined in [XML], 
              section 2) or SGML application. Refer, for 
              example, to Internet media types defined in "XML 
              Media Types" [RFC3023]

      2. The user agent is only required to satisfy this checkpoint 
         for text formats that are part of a conformance claim; see 
         the section on conformance profiles for more information. 
         However, user agents should provide a text view for all 
         implemented text formats.

UAAG defines quote text source unquote as:

cite: <http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG/glossary.html#def-text-source>
Document source, text source 
   In this document, the term "document source" refers to the 
   data that the user agent receives as the direct result of a 
   request for a Web resource (e.g., as the result of an HTTP/1.1 
   [RFC2616] "GET", or as the result of viewing a resource on the 
   local file system). The document source generally refers to 
   the "payload" of the user agent's request, and does not 
   generally include information exchanged as part of the 
   transfer protocol. The document source is data that is prior 
   to any repair by the user agent (e.g., prior to repairing 
   invalid markup). "Text source" refers to the text portion of 
   the document source. 

UAAG further defines quote text unquote as:

cite: <http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG/glossary.html#def-text>
   In this document, the term "text" used by itself refers to a 
   sequence of characters from a markup language's document 
   character set. Refer to the "Character Model for the World 
   Wide Web" [CHARMOD] for more information about text and 

the Techniques for Checkpoint 2.2

includes what was referred to in the User Agent (UA) working 
group when UAAG 1.0 was being written, as the quote final 
fallback unquote option -- if all else fails, enable user access 
to the document source, and that the text be quote useful unquote.
the barest minimum requirement is to provide a TEXT view of a 
document's source, not a non-interactive, non-cut-and-pastable, 
rendering of the document source.

document source is the resort of last choice, but it is essential 
for some of those who still crawl, rather than surf, the web, due 
to missing ALT-text, un-LABEL-ed form controls, and other authoring 
errors which the end user must correct, using the document source, 
just so that the document can be used and/or understood by the user.
(i have had to fix document source in order to use my online 
banking interface, for example, obviously by providing the site's 
maintainers with a de- and re-constructed, annotated document 

UAAG also strongly discourages browser instances, stripped of the 
user's pre-configured chrome (e.g. if address bar and menues are 
what the user prefers, the user's chrome preferences MUST be 
respected, and appear in the new browser instance or tab)

HTML is text, interpreted by renderers, but at root, it is text, 
and an interactive text view of document source is imperative 
for diagnosing and repairing errors, invalid markup, etc.

the moral of the story: let's do as we say: UAAG is a W3C 
technical recommendation, just as HTML is a W3C technical 
recommendation; anyone seeking to render the latter in compliance 
with the former will enable user access to the quote text portion 
of the the document source.

ACCOUNTABILITY, n.  The mother of caution.
                          Ambrose Bierce, _The Devil's Dictionary_
Gregory J. Rosmaita:  oedipus@hicom.net AND unagi69@concentric.net
              Celebrate The Holy Days of Obfuscation:
Received on Friday, 13 April 2007 20:16:11 UTC

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