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HTML 5 draft - alt attributes not required!
tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 7:59 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

The currently published specs for HTML 5 at whatwg.org [whatwg.org] no longer require the alt attribute for an img element -- and the longdesc attribute is nowhere to be seen in the current draft.

Accessibility folks are debating these changes, but I agree with Lachlan Hunt:

Making alt technically optional doesn’t stand in the way of accessibility requirements, nor greatly impact upon accessibility evangelism. It just acknowledges the reality of the situation in the hope of reducing the prevalence of poor quality, automatically generated alt text.

[blog.whatwg.org...]

Thanks to best practices advocate Juicy Studio [juicystudio.com] for publicizing these issues.

 

bcolflesh

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 8:11 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't care about longdesc, but alt should definitely be required - it's correct use certainly outweighs it's misuse.

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 8:12 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

The requirements for the alt attribute depend on what the image is intended to represent:

And...

The text must be given in the alt attribute, and must convey the same message as the the image specified in the src attribute.

The image given by the src attribute is the embedded content, and the value of the alt attribute is the img element's fallback content.

Embedded content elements can have fallback content: content that is to be used when the external resource cannot be used (e.g. because it is of an unsupported format). The element definitions state what the fallback is, if any.

So, it looks like one of the new buzzwords will be Fallback Content Optimization. :)

But alt should definitely be required - it's correct use certainly outweighs it's misuse.

Oh, it is still required if you wish to do things correctly. It just isn't required on "all images" as it has been in the past. Now it would be optional and it is up to you to provide Fallback Content when applicable. ;)

Lachlan Hunt summarizes...

Making alt technically optional doesn’t stand in the way of accessibility requirements, nor greatly impact upon accessibility evangelism. It just acknowledges the reality of the situation in the hope of reducing the prevalence of poor quality, automatically generated alt text.

And then Gez Lemon fires back...

Alternate text contains important information about an image that must be included in the structure, even if that information is blank because the image is purely decorative. It is better that purely decorative images are not included in the structure in the first place, but included with CSS. However, there should also be a markup solution to indicate whether or not the alternate text of an image is critical to understand the content - omitting such an important attribute is ambiguous, and doesn't help anyone. Systems that generate poor quality alternate text need fixing, and all authors should be encouraged to provide high quality alternate text.

I tend to lean towards this...

Systems that generate poor quality alternate text need fixing, and all authors should be encouraged to provide high quality alternate text.

[edited by: pageoneresults at 8:30 pm (utc) on Aug. 29, 2007]

bcolflesh

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 8:24 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the clarification - I should probably RTFA before I comment on it!

jessejump

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 8:55 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>>>>> alt should definitely be required

Required by who? Also, what if the alt text is of poor quality?

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 9:00 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Also, what if the alt text is of poor quality?

That onus should be on the author which it is mandatory now and appears to be optional in HTML 5. If its of poor quality, then there will be a poor visitor experience when that alt attribute comes into play. Remember now, the bots are blind and they are deaf. And, they appear to be extremely autistic. :)

bcolflesh

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 9:08 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Also, what if the alt text is of poor quality?

I find 90%+ of the text between body tags to be of poor quality - doesn't change my feeling about logical standards compliance.

alexdunae

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 11:27 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

These guys are truly bizarre - good intentions but way misguided.

From their FAQ [blog.whatwg.org]

When will HTML 5 be finished?

It is estimated that HTML5 will reach a W3C recommendation in the year 2022 or later. This will be approximately 18-20 years of development, since beginning in mid-2004.

I'm fascinated to see if this (vanity) project will ever come into force without the use of heavy javascript to actually make it render.

jessejump

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 11:46 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

What do people do for css background images?

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 1:00 am on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

It is estimated that HTML5 will reach a W3C recommendation in the year 2022 or later. This will be approximately 18-20 years of development, since beginning in mid-2004.

Okay, so we don't have to sweat it just yet. That's 14 years from now. That is a very long time in Internet years. By then the Web will have changed considerably and HTML5 will probably end up right there with XHTML. I didn't realize they were so far out as far as W3C Recommendation goes. Heck, that's two more Internet Generations.

Clark

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 4:05 am on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

What is alt text? Does anyone use it?

.
.
.
.
.
j/k

HelenDev

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 8:15 am on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

It is estimated that HTML5 will reach a W3C recommendation in the year 2022 or later

That's utterly crazy! I hoped you were joking!

Perhaps this is the end for web standards then? As pageoneresults says, the internet will have changed considerably by then, will HTML 4 still cut it? Or will everyone have moved on to Ajax-style pages or some other new type of markup, and web standards will be a thing of the past?

Surely things have to move way faster than that for W3c to survive or be relevant at all?

RonPK

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 8:35 am on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

It is estimated that HTML5 will reach a W3C recommendation in the year 2022 or later

Not according to the HTML working group at W3C - and they should know. The "Schedule of Deliverables" at [w3.org...] says "2010 Q3 Recommendation" (my emphasis).

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 9:08 am on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

It is estimated that HTML5 will reach a W3C recommendation in the year 2022 or later.

I don't know about the rest of you but I plan on being retired well before 2022. By then, we'll have progressed through GHTML 1.0, GHTML 2.0 and possibly on to GHTML 3.0.

HelenDev

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 9:46 am on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

GHTML

?

[edited by: HelenDev at 9:46 am (utc) on Aug. 30, 2007]

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 10:01 am on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

GHTML

That's Google's version of HTML. They've already got a few things out there. By 2022, they will have much, much more and we will have progressed through GHTML 3.0. ;)

Really though, I think that timeframe is unrealistic. At the rate technology is changing, much of what is there will become history before 2022. There wasn't that much of a time span between the previous HTML/XHTML versions...

1995 November - HTML 2.0
[w3.org...]

1997 January - HTML 3.2
[w3.org...]

1998 April - HTML 4.0
[w3.org...]

1999 December - HTML 4.01
[w3.org...]

And then we got sidetracked for a few years and a whole bunch of us jumped on the XHTML bandwagon only to find out later that it was most likely going to be mothballed...

1999 August - XHTML
[w3.org...]

2000 January - XHTML 1.0
[w3.org...]

2002 August - XHTML 1.0 Revision
[w3.org...]

And now we're talking about HTML 5.0 not being a standard until 2022? Come on now, I can understand a time factor in bringing this all together but 14 years seems a bit distant to me, wouldn't you agree?

HelenDev

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 11:03 am on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

14 years seems a bit distant to me, wouldn't you agree?

Can you imagine saying to your boss "I expect the project to be complete in about 14 years"?

he he he ;)

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 11:53 am on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Even if that were a typo for "2012", that would also be far too long I think.

Are they thinking about getting all major browsers to support it, before they release it for use by websites for real?

RonPK

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 12:32 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

There are representatives from the major browser builders Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla and Opera in the W3C HTML working group [w3.org] that is drafting the new specs. Microsoft's Chris Wilson, who IIRC used to be on the IE7 team, is one of the group's co-chairs. The W3C group uses WHATWG's HTML 5; WHATWG was initiated by Mozilla, Opera and Apple. So I guess one might expect some browser support by the time 5 becomes a recommendation.

One of the editors of the current draft [w3.org] is Google's Ian Hickson, but I wouldn't call 5 GHTML just for that.

gibbergibber

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 12:45 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

--Even if that were a typo for "2012", that would also be far too long I think.--

I agree, browsing technology is moving far too fast to build standards so slowly. By 2012 (and certainly by 2022) I would expect the vast majority of browsing to be done on devices other than PCs, such as phones and televisions. And who knows what unpredictable spanner-in-the-works will appear over the next five to fifteen years...

This reminds me of the development of teletext, the 1970s electronic information service transmitted through PAL (and other) television signals. By the time they got round to implementing a new version of the teletext standard in the 1990s, technology had moved on with digital TV, the world wide web etc.

It could be that the web won't even be around in 2022. Perhaps people will use their web browsers as a simple gateway to some other kind of content, in the way they currently do with Flash-based sites.

kapow

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 2:43 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I was thinking in a few short years browsers, html and css would be all nice and standard/compatible, making irritating hacks and browser wars a thing of the old days.

Now I see a crap new future:
- W3C takes too long to create a new standard for html.
- Others (google, MS, Apple...etc) will create stuff that takes the web forward in unimaginable ways (which is a good thing).
- Slooooly the various browsers will adopt the most popular stuff,
- There will be legal copyright battles, resulting in functions breaking some browsers (think IE and flash).
- Long after everyone has got used to G-code, or Apple-gadgets, or MS-whatever... W3C will introduce an out of date standard,
- The webmasters will be forever creating hacks and arguing over which technology is better (which will include the never ending debates between open source and big business versions).

So thats the future folks get used to it, its NEVER going to be stable :)

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 3:41 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hope you're wrong - that's basically what happened during the Netscape/IE browser wars - and HTML 4 is an attempt to clean up the mess. The need for innovation will stay with us, and the need for a balance between academic "purity" and practical matters is a touchy thing in a young technology.

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 3:52 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

After all the years of HTML 4.01 (and XHTML) standards, more than 80%(*) of the web either isn't using it at all, or isn't using it properly.

(*) Estimate: it is probably more like 95%+.

What can be done to promote that usage now, rather than having another whole decade of people building sites that don't conform to any standards?

alexdunae

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 6:13 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think the most important point in relation to HTML 5 is 'why?' HTML is fine as it is right now. In over a decade of building web sites I can't remember ever wishing that a new HTML tag existed or another attribute was available (CSS is a completely different matter and is progessing nicely).

The W3C has issues but the WHAT-WG is just making matters worse by deprecating attributes and inventing tags. They have positioned themselves as the pragmatic version of the W3C but they are missing one huge stake holder: Microsoft. Even if Mozilla, Safari and Opera implement their spec, IE will not. And if, a few years on, IE does support HTML5, all us web developers will have endured a very painful transition period.

If these leading lights feel that HTML is so broken that it needs to be dramatically re-formulated then they should do us all a favour: stop, get Microsoft to buy in and only then carry on.

mattur

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 7:05 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I can't remember ever wishing that a new HTML tag existed

I wish for one all the time - for adding a caption to an image in a standard, accessible way. This also impinges on the alt required/not required issue.

HTML5 includes <figure> and <legend> elements for this, as well as other new elements that make markup more logical and arguably easier to maintain - rather than div'ing everything. eg <header>, <footer, <nav>. It also includes new functionality like the <canvas>, <video> and <audio> elements.

See New elements in HTML 5 [ibm.com] for a good overview.

The most significant development will be richer forms [whatwg.org], eg date and email input elements, repeating form controls and combo boxes.

We can currently implement this sort of functionality via custom coding to work around the lack functionality available, but it's time consuming and clearly sub-optimal. We really should not have to be using javascript to do stuff that could be handled by the browser.

HTML5 is an attempt to capture and standardise the new functionality browser makers will be incrementally adding to their browsers over the next few years. IE will be the limiting factor, however MS are involved - Chris Wilson from MS is co-chair of the HTML-WG

alexdunae

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 8:00 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

@mattur - I am completely with you in regards to improved web forms. HTML 4-era forms have long been insufficient.

I'd been through the tag list before. If these tags had been present during the initial rise of HTML (1994-1999) it would have been a boon. Trying to reformulate things after the fact seems like it will be painful.

I wasn't aware the MS was involved - do you know why the WHAT-WG FAQ says IE has no plans to support HTML5?

mattur

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 11:39 pm on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi Alex,

MS joined the group late. I don't think anyone outside MS knows what their plans are for IE - this may also be true of those inside MS...;)

Chris Wilson will be posting a Microsoft review of HTML5 in the next week or so to the public-html list, which may offer some clues. I get the impression that MS is at least notionally supportive of HTML5. We'll see.

drewls

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 6:07 pm on Sep 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

We should totally get rid of all of this HTML stuff because someone might make a SE spam page with it. I say we bin it all now!

sydney web designer

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 8:10 am on Sep 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

I seriously doubt xhtml will be scrapped. Its syntax is too useful for the development of dymanic applications.

Speculation: alot more web based applications will use database queries to produce xml which will then be marked up with xslt.

Reason: it is alot easier to deal with this data when it is in a logical format like xml as opposed to database callouts.

mattur

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3435869 posted 10:34 pm on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

HTML5 will also be available in XML format (XHTML5), but HTML is recommended. XSLT can transform XML into HTML or XHTML.

The idea behind (X)HTML5 is that off-the-shelf HTML5 parsers will generate an identical tree from either source format, HTML or XHTML. It's not the format that matters, it's accessing the tree.

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