W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > May 2008

Re: alt and authoring practices

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Sat, 3 May 2008 22:23:49 +0000
Message-Id: <CF3F1212-038D-4DB7-871F-053E03EA2FA5@robburns.com>
To: "HTML Working Group <public-html@w3.org>" <public-html@w3.org>

On May 3, 2008, at 2:37 PM, Smylers wrote:

>> The initial name of the photo is automatically generated by iPhoto or
>> my camera and usually in the form IMG_####.jpg. This means the alt
>> attribute would look like this: ‘alt='view image &quot;IMG_1234&quot;
>> fullsize”.
> But that isn't alternative to being able to see the photo.
> Also it doesn't provide a browser with any additional information; the
> filename is already in the href of the link -- so a browser's  
> heuristics
> could choose to show that to the user even without it being set in the
> alt attribute.
> So I'm not sure how the author doing that is any better for image-less
> users than omitting the alt attribute entirely.
> Image-less browsers can do at least as well by themselves, possibly
> better.

This I think is a bit of a technical misunderstanding that needs  
clarification. Including ‘view image &quot;IMG_1234&quot;’ in the alt  
attribute is not remotely the same thing as omitting the alt  
attribute. First, a UA could read the filenames for every photo on the  
page. However, that's a very different user experience than reading  
the few times an author includes that alt text in the document. In the  
latter case, it's now at the author's discretion which content gets  
read to the user. Secondly, the UA cannot easily determine that it  
should add the ‘view image’ in front of the filename of each graphic.  
Thirdly, in this case the authoring tool is drawing the alt text not  
from the graphic filename (as you assumed), but from the graphic files  
metadata title. In this way, every title the author provides is  
immediately made use of by the authoring too.

So to underscore this again. This means there is nothing cumbersome or  
burdensome in the requirement to include alt text (at least not in any  
of the examples provided so far). On the other hand, it may be  
cumbersome for the author to provide descriptive titles and  
description metadata for every photo in a bulk upload, however, this  
debate is not about requiring authors or authoring tools to do so. So  
to again clear up this confusion, the required alt attribute creates  
no cumbersome work for authors. The cumbersome work for authors is  
instead in the inclusion of optional longdesc and media file metadata.

Take care,
Received on Saturday, 3 May 2008 22:24:32 UTC

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