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Re: Templateid seems dangerous to innovation and competition

From: David Bolter <david.bolter@utoronto.ca>
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2008 15:35:06 -0400
Message-ID: <47E8026A.8020900@utoronto.ca>
To: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
CC: public-pfwg-comments@w3.org, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, david.bolter@gmail.com

Hi Henri,

Henri Sivonen wrote:
> According to 
> http://mindforks.blogspot.com/2008/03/aria-templateid-explained.html :
>> Whenever an assistive technology (AT) sees this template ID it can 
>> provide customization to improve the UX. For example, a screen reader 
>> like JAWS or Orca could load a script for adding keystrokes to open 
>> the Gmail inbox etc. If another web product embeds Gmail the AT can 
>> still pick up the the template id and apply some customization.
>
>
> I think this is a problem for innovation and for competition.
>
> It is a problem for competition, because if JAWS or Orca give magic 
> preferential treatment to Gmail, a competing Webmail service cannot 
> get the same accessibility advantage by writing to an open spec. The 
> playing field is not level in that case. The only way for the 
> competing service to gain the same advantage is to reverse engineer 
> what the template ID causes JAWS or Orca to do and then carefully 
> craft their own UI to match the structure that the magic behavior 
> expects. What's the point of an open spec like ARIA in that case? 
> Moreover, such crafting might be too impractical for entire UIs like a 
> Webmail UI. The reverse engineering scenario could be a realistic 
> recourse for an Ajax library when the template ID is associated with a 
> specific widget of a competing Ajax library as opposed to the whole UI 
> of an app. In either case, the anti-competitive effect is not good.
>
I think you are suggesting that anti-competitive practice is a potential 
abuse of this ARIA property? I think it is good to consider such things. 
I do think that the ability for someone to better customize his/her AT 
is empowering and perhaps worth the gamble? Consider if we already had 
the ability to do this in the web or desktop space, would you want to 
take it away? JAWS scripters have clearly felt the need to do this on a 
per URL or per desktop application basis.

> It is a problem for innovation, because Gmail is getting preferential 
> treatment for a particular version of its UI, updating the UI in an 
> innovative way would regress accessibility. With the glacial update 
> cycle of AT, it isn't reasonable to expect new AT versions to be 
> shipped instantaneously. Hence, aria-templateid would cause a 
> disincentive to change anything that has once gained preferential 
> treatment from AT.
>
I would hope that the UI is accessible/useable with or without the 
customization provided by the AT based on the templateid; that the 
templateid is the way to provide the "icing on the cake". In this 
scenario the UI authors should feel free to innovate and change the 
templateid (eg. "foo.com/gadget1.0" becomes "foo.com/gadget1.1"), 
effectively removing the icing until someone reapplies it.
> I suggest removing the aria-templateid feature as anti-competitive and 
> as innovation-stifling.
I'm glad you raised these points and look forward to hear what others 
think.

cheers,
David

>
> P.S. If aria-templateid stays nonetheless, please specify that the 
> value is an absolute IRI and that it is compared as an opaque string 
> of Unicode code units without any IRI equivalence normalization.
>
Received on Monday, 24 March 2008 19:35:45 UTC

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