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Re: an interoperable object (fallback and context menus)

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2009 19:45:53 +0100
Message-ID: <49CBCD61.1080002@malform.no>
To: Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>
CC: HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>
Boris Zbarsky 2009-03-26 17.05:
> Leif Halvard Silli wrote:

>> http://www.malform.no/html5/object+youtube

>> We also know that this pattern isn't use because one has corresponding 
>> fallback text.
> 
> This part I don't follow.

The reason people insert <embed> into <object> is not to offer 
textual fallback alongside <embed>. If they try that, then <embed> 
would only get in the way since those who need textual fallback do 
not need/want the content of <embed>. Thus we may conclude - as I 
did above - that the purpose of adding <embed> is to use it as the 
sole fallback content of <object>.

>> My claim, then, is that the <object><embed> pattern has a negative 
>> effect on authors' and developers' perception of what <object> can do 
>> and how it works. (We have some evidence of this confusion, for 
>> example the Safari treatment of <object><embed> - see below.)
> 
> I agree that Safari's behavior here is wacky.

(And IE's.) Yeah, wacky since it treats <object> fallback 
different when it contains <embed> than otherwise.

Even in HTML guidees, the fallback side of <object> is not well 
understood (see the comment at bottom):

http://reference.sitepoint.com/html/object

Often we see mentions like "but we must use <embed> instead, 
because it is what actually works" - with no mention of what one 
then is loosing (c.f. what I said above about <embed> getting in 
the way if you want to add textual fallback as well.)

>> Only that day when an author needs to include some fallback text, will 
>> he get to experience that it doesn't work together with <embed>.
> 
> How does it not work, pray tell me?  Seems like it works fine, except in 
> Safari.

I meant to say that he may experience that it doesn't live up to 
his expectations. "I added textual fallback, but it becomes 
visible to all users/in all browsers that relies on <embed> - 
why?" (I admit that I would have been nice to have evidence of 
such surprise - thoug to some extent you can count me in ...) :-)

   [...]
>>> Which makes it more complex than object+embed, so people took the 
>>> path of least resistance.
>>
>> The path of least resistance or just the most common path?
> 
> The former automatically becomes the latter.  In this case, I think we 
> had the former.

It seems to me that wrong focus can lead entire communities into 
pointless behaviour. Until this day, web authors have lead a 
massive worldwide hunt for CSS bugs/loopholes through which one 
could target IE. But it turnes out that there - since 1999 (IE 
5.0) has been a much simpler way (that would have left all the bug 
finding to Microsoft itself):

http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2008/11/13/how-to-use-conditional-comments-for-better-css/

-- 
leif halvard silli
Received on Thursday, 26 March 2009 18:46:37 UTC

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