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Re: Language choice for default Web page

From: Martin Duerst <duerst@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 01 Oct 2002 12:30:20 +0900
Message-Id: <>
To: Tex Texin <tex@i18nguy.com>
Cc: ysavourel@translate.com, www-international@w3.org

At 22:07 02/09/25 -0400, Tex Texin wrote:
>Actually, looking at the section of the spec Yves pointed to, it refers
>to user agents and search engines using that information, not web
>"User agents, search engines, etc. may interpret these link types in a
>variety of ways. For example, user agents may provide access to linked
>documents through a navigation bar."

I don't disagree. That's what the <link> was designed for.

>Based on what is written I think Yves is not far off the mark. The
>suggestion that the decision be automated is a bit of a leap,
>but not unreasonable.

Well, neither the reader nor the author would expect it, and
as I said, it would make it impossible for somebody with
French preferences to reach the English version.

>I think the media type alternative links

I haven't heard of such a thing. Do you have an example?

>are selected
>automatically for a given media, so why shouldn't language be automated
>if the browser has been given language preferences of the user?

Both media type and language selection are indeed automated,
but this is done through HTTP Accept headers (Accept: and
Accept-Language:) and not with <link> on the browser side.

>It's not clear to me that these links have to do with http language
>negotiation, since the browser has the information it needs to determine
>which language link to use. Also, presumably the author would not create
>links for pages that did not exist, so an agent-server negotiation is
>not needed to match existing pages to requests that might be for
>languages that don't exist.
>Is that wrong?

Well, agent-server negotiation is much cheaper than getting
a web page and then getting a different one because the browser
sees a link. Compare the following scenario:

Browser sends
    GET /somepage.html HTTP/1.0
    Accept-Language: fr, es, de
Server sends back page in French

With the following scenario:

Browser sends
    GET /somepage.html HTTP/1.0
Server sends back page in English, with the <link> to the French page
Browser sends
    GET /somepage.fr.html HTTP/1.0
Server sends back French page

The second scenario wastes a lot of bits, and needs more
roundtrips. That's why server side negotiation is better.

Regards,    Martin.

>Martin Duerst wrote:
> >
> > Hello Yves,
> >
> > At 10:21 02/09/25 -0600, Yves Savourel wrote:
> > >Hello,
> > >
> > >According the HTML specification
> > >(http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/types.html#type-links), if I add the 
> following
> > >meta element to my index.htm page (served by an ISP I don't have control
> > >over)
> > >
> > >  <link rel="alternate" lang="fr" href="index_fr.htm" hreflang="fr"/>
> > >
> > >shouldn't then the default page be automatically redirected to 
> index_fr.htm
> > >if I point to the root of the web site without specifying a page and if my
> > >browser has its preference settings listing FR as its first choice?
> >
> > Well, it may be that a very 'intellingent' Web server would do so,
> > but I don't know any Web server that would actually do it.
> > To set things on the server, you have to use server-specific
> > settings.
> >
> > The purpose of the <link> statement above is that browsers can
> > somehow show to the user: This page is also available in French.
> > The actual handling depends on the browser, many of them may
> > not show it.
> >
> > >It doesn't seem to work on IE 6 or NN 7. (although the pages have also 
> their
> > >language-content set properly, and the lang attribute set).
> >
> > Okay, so you think that it's not the server that should serve
> > the French version directly, but the browser should download
> > the document and say 'hey, this says that there is a French
> > version here, so I'll get that and show it instead'.
> >
> > This is again not what's supposed to happen, because with such
> > a system, it would be impossible for you to have a look at the
> > current non-English page. Language negotiation isn't supposed
> > to forbid you to see other language versions, just to get
> > to your preferred version first.
> >
> > >- I am mis-interpreting the specification?
> >
> > yes.
> >
> > >- Is it necessary to set something on the server-side as well?
> >
> > yes.
> >
> > >- Are the browsers simply not support it?
> >
> > The various <link /> constructs are indeed not very well supported.
> >
> > >In other words: how to get the browser to pick the right language default
> > >page when you don't control the server? (and using only standard HTML).
> >
> > Change your ISP :-).
> >
> > Regards,    Martin.
>Tex Texin   cell: +1 781 789 1898   mailto:Tex@XenCraft.com
>Xen Master                          http://www.i18nGuy.com
>XenCraft                            http://www.XenCraft.com
>Making e-Business Work Around the World
Received on Tuesday, 1 October 2002 00:03:44 UTC

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