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Re: Title of the spec may cause heartache

From: Odin Hørthe Omdal <odinho@opera.com>
Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2014 20:05:38 +0200
Message-Id: <1411409138.1687336.170410205.5B79E92C@webmail.messagingengine.com>
To: public-respimg@w3.org
On Mon, Sep 22, 2014, at 17:45, Jason Grigsby wrote:
> I think this will be a challenge for us as we move to educating people
> because people will strongly associate the picture specification with the
> picture element, but for the most common use case, resolution switching,
> the picture element isn't the best solution.


With picture+media being so powerful, I've been very afraid (from the
start) that it will be used the wrong way.   I don't think the
visibility of @srcset and @sizes (the ones solving the most common uses
you see today) on <img> is good enough.

However, no big damage is done if people think <picture> is the way to
(correctly) use @srcset, @sizes and (seldomly here-be-dragons) @media. 
If the we get a substansial part of the web developer population
misunderstanding and thinking <picture @media> is 'responsive' images,
we might be in a bind.  Since @media is so flexible, you can seemingly
implement something "good enough" with it.  Indeed this very group
wanted that at the start.

I've very seldomly seen any article mentioning responsive images saying
that "you almost always want srcset+sizes, sometimes if you really want
you can *add* media".  In the few discussions I've read on the web,
there's a lot of wrong impressions and falsehoods going around.  Few
seem to understand it.

As most communication, the message reaching general web dev community
will probably be a simplified one.  I think selling an HTML-tag is much
simpler than the more complex story.  However, thankfully the story sold
is not "<picture> element with media queries", it's only about the
element itself.  So when people look up documentation, there's hoping
they'll find some good docs and use the actual functionality they

If they would find and read articles written by people of this group,
there is surely no danger.  E.g. Yoav's excellent primer on Dev.Opera[0]
even has things in what I'd define to be the "correct order" ;)  There
will come a time, however, when other less ... well-informed ... sites
might put out their own docs which could or could not follow in the same

  0. https://dev.opera.com/articles/native-responsive-images/

I make it to a very big point that you probably want to use <img> with
@sizes and @srcset.  Not because I'm against <picture>, but just because
a) in many cases you won't need it, and most importantly,
b) there's no @media on <img> so it can't be potentially misused there.

In the context of all the "picture element" articles and discussions, it
makes for a memorable reply; the responsive images spec made <img> fully
useful for most responsive image usage; .

Mairead Buchan said:
> Can someone explain to me what the different actually
> is because this is the first time I've heard that they
> are two separate things

If you read Yoav's above primer I think it should be quite clear. 
Though it is hard to say for us that has followed along from the start,
since we know these things by heart already :)

Jason Grigsby said:
> Do you have any alternative way of describing the
> picture specification that side steps this issue?

I always talk about responsive images, and I think I probably say the
respimg specification.
  Odin Hørthe Omdal
Received on Monday, 22 September 2014 18:06:09 UTC

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