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Microsoft .NET and Accessibility

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2002 19:47:45 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200201271947.g0RJljL17784@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
I don't yet know a lot about Microsoft's .NET, but one of the features
that apparently makes it attractive to developers, although one that is
probably not highly publicised, is that the Visual Studio tool can be
used to make a thin client web browser based application in a similar
way to which they used to create native Visual Basic applications.

This means that you construct form layouts using drag and drop and
one has controls that one places onto those forms, also be drag and
drop.  In the Visual Basic model, Microsoft provide a core set of
controls (e.g. file selection dialogues, tree selectors, etc.) and then
there is a secondary market in more complicated controls (e.g. 
spread sheet type grids).

From a general W3C point of view, I suspect this is side-stepping 
X-Forms, but from an accessibility point of view it is likely to mean
that a lot of, particularly intranet, applications will be developed
by people who never see the HTML/XML, and whose only control over
accessibility is by selecting their control supplier (and companies
tend to have monopolies of certain types of VB control).

I find it particularly unlikely that the code will produce sensible
linearised reading orders, and may need quite high minimum spec browsers.
Track records in this area do not bode well for the developers of these
tools understanding HTML or accessibility, although there is room to 
be surprised.  I strongly expect the aim of development will be to mimic
Visual Basic as closely as possible on recent IE, and possibly Netscape,
browsers, rather than to take note of any of the philosophy of HTML.

Does anyone have some more hands on knowledge of Visual Studio .NET and
is able to comment on the accessibility of what is generated and the
ease or difficulty of forcing it to do things well.
Received on Sunday, 27 January 2002 14:48:22 UTC

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