RE: alertdialog versus dialog questions, also modal versus non-modal

Best Practices for authors is underway.  I expect a lot more work to be 
done there. it's obvious we need that. IMO we want one document in the 
end, so that developers don't have to go to a separate style guide for the 
keyboard stuff. Others may say they need to stay separate.

Best Practices for user agents is really the ARIA User Agent Implementors 
Guide, which is a collaboration between the various UA manufacturers, 
insomuch as the developers have time. The W3C may eventually be willing to 
host it, but it might not become a doc appropriate for that.  This is full 
of technical details and not really that appropriate for most authors.

Best Practices for ATs is interesting, but nobody has wanted to tell ATs 
what they should or shouldn't do. From my point of view the expected 
behavior for end users is still being defined as ATs evolve to better 
support ARIA this year. It's true that there should be more help for 
authors. IMO where we can be strong in our statements we should really put 
this info into #1, the authoring guide. I don't think this needs to be a 
separate doc otherwise all the authors and AT developers will end up 
needing to read both. But, if someone wants to step forward and write it I 
won't stop them! :)  There's no one person or company "responsible" for 
ARIA. If you're here now, you're really on the cutting edge and part of 
defining ARIA, and where you find gaps, go ahead and get them addressed.

- Aaron

"Schnabel, Stefan" <>
Aaron M Leventhal/Cambridge/IBM@IBMUS
"James Craig" <>, "W3C WAI-XTECH" <>, 
05/28/2008 01:42 PM
RE: alertdialog versus dialog questions, also modal versus non-modal

Ok thanks.
Interesting in your reply was also that a defined behavior of AT was/is 
presumed as part of the use case
when encountering these kind of roles, whereas there is no separate “Best 
Practices for AT” document available yet covering these cases.
I feel that this is still a gap bringing some lugubrious aspect in the 
game for there is still much room for interpretation, even also for AT 
So, to complete picture, on my wish list would be
1. ARIA - Best Practices for Authors
2. ARIA - Best Practices for User Agents
3. ARIA - Best Practices for Assistive Technology
Part of 3. would be e.g. rules not to suppress Alt+ArrowDown key 
combinations for JS code in toolkits (for role=combobox may need an 
expandable popup below that should work with recommended best practices 
keyboard definitions for opening) .. generally not to suppress all key 
combinations given there.
Best Regards
From: Aaron M Leventhal [] 
Sent: Mittwoch, 28. Mai 2008 12:59
To: Schnabel, Stefan
Cc: James Craig; W3C WAI-XTECH;
Subject: RE: alertdialog versus dialog questions, also modal versus 

There is really no complete guide for authors yet. I agree we need that. 

- Aaron 

"Schnabel, Stefan" <> 
Aaron M Leventhal/Cambridge/IBM@IBMUS, "James Craig" <> 
"W3C WAI-XTECH" <>, <> 
05/28/2008 12:54 PM 
RE: alertdialog versus dialog questions, also modal versus non-modal

I had the same question in mind. More of that kind of background info in 
best practices docs related to role usage use cases, please J 
-       Stefan 
From: [] On Behalf 
Of Aaron M Leventhal
Sent: Mittwoch, 28. Mai 2008 11:41
To: James Craig
Subject: Re: alertdialog versus dialog questions, also modal versus 

Looks like my last response didn't make it through, so I'll try again. 

It's a useful for a screen reader to know if the current container is an 
alertdialog vs. a dialog. 
Typically a dialog is not read from start to end. The title, current 
focus, and probably any groupbox or pane title would be read. Otherwise 
you'd get quite verbose preferences dialogs. It wouldn't be useful to read 
the whole thing from start to end. 

However, in many cases you don't want the user to miss the main message of 
a dialog. An alertdialog is just a simple message like "Your mailbox is 
full, please clean unwanted mails, Ok, button". Because the screen reader 
knows it's an alertdialog is knows to read the whole thing as soon as 
anything in the dialog gets focused. 

There is no way currently to indicate that a dialog is modal or modeless. 
I'm not sure how a sighted person figures this out, other than knowing 
from context or trying to focus outside of the dialog. If someone can 
state an important reason to expose that then it should be considered 
after ARIA 1.0. IIRC the group has decided not to take on new properties 
since we're trying to get the spec ready for last call. 

- Aaron 

James Craig <> 
05/28/2008 01:37 AM 
alertdialog versus dialog questions, also modal versus non-modal


Apologies if this question has already been discussed, but I fail to 
see a meaningful difference in the ARIA roles for alertdialog and 
dialog. AFAIK, the only discussion of this on the xTech list is the 
following, where Al points out an implementation problem with 
@role="alert dialog"

Implementation issues aside, it seems to me that there is no 
meaningful difference between an alert dialog and a standard dialog. 
Both roles use an application window that receives focus and requires 
some form of user input or acknowledgment. If this is true, they 
should both be standard dialogs, because @role="dialog" appears to be 
just a child role of @role="alert" that also receives focus. Please 
correct me if I'm missing something in the reading or implementation.

For reference:

alertdialog <>
               A separate window (may be simulated) with an alert, where 
               focus goes to the window or a control within it.

dialog <>
               A dialog is a small application window that sits above the 
               and is designed to interrupt the current processing of an 
               in order to prompt the user to enter information or require 
a response.

The other bit that's not clear from this wording is how to achieve a 
modal versus non-modal dialog. Since dialog is "designed to interrupt 
the current processing of an application," I assume that means it 
maintains a "modal" state and intercepts all input until it is 
dismissed. Have I missed some other allowance for non-modal dialogs?

James Craig

Received on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 13:23:43 UTC