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Empty Alt Tags

P: n/a
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag blank (alt=" ")
or specify something like "alt='spacer'" when referring to objects that
merely help the layout of the page?

-Fleemo

Jul 24 '05 #1
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39 Replies


P: n/a

<fl******@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:11**********************@z14g2000cwz.googlegr oups.com...
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag blank (alt=" ")
or specify something like "alt='spacer'" when referring to objects that
merely help the layout of the page?

-Fleemo


Not sure if it helps for accessibility, but I try to name every alt tag,
even if it just says "border" or "spacer."

Carla
Jul 24 '05 #2

P: n/a
"c.thornquist" <c.**********@insightbb.com> wrote:
<fl******@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:11**********************@z14g2000cwz.googleg roups.com...
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag blank (alt=" ")
or specify something like "alt='spacer'" when referring to objects that
merely help the layout of the page?

alt=""
Not sure if it helps for accessibility, but I try to name every alt tag,
even if it just says "border" or "spacer."


Use a speaking browser and listen to your page. Does alt="spacer"
improve your experience? Does it help you to comprehend and use the
content of the page?

Steve

--
"My theories appal you, my heresies outrage you,
I never answer letters and you don't like my tie." - The Doctor

Steve Pugh <st***@pugh.net> <http://steve.pugh.net/>
Jul 24 '05 #3

P: n/a
fl******@comcast.net wrote:
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag blank (alt="
") or specify something like "alt='spacer'" when referring to
objects that merely help the layout of the page?


First, it's an attribute, not a tag.

Second, don't use it without thinking what it means and what it might
help. There's no pointing in giving an advice about this specific
issue. If you need to ask it, you will get most other alt attributes
wrong too, unless you understand the _idea_ of an alt attribute.

It means a textual alternative to the image, to be actually presented
to the user when the image is not presented. Now imagine yourself
sitting in a completely dark room and listening to a speech synthesizer
that reads a page for you, saying for instance

Advertisement
* Spacer
Home
Page
* Spacer
Health
Data
* Spacer
Topics
List
* Spacer
Media
Center
* Spacer
Information
Products
* Spacer
PAHO
Publishing
* Spacer
Knowledge
Resources

Or how about this (no, I'm not making this up):

Spacer graphic
Spacer graphic

Spacer graphic
Spacer graphic Spacer graphic
Spacer graphic Spacer graphic

[EMBED]
Spacer graphic

What could possibly justify using alt="spacer"? How did people ever get
such an idea?

Well, it _can_ get even worse if you are using alt attributes without
the slightest idea or clue:

your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
[LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK]

your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
[LINK]
[LINK]
[LINK]
[LINK]
[LINK]
[LINK]
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
Coming Soon
Coming Soon
Coming Soon

(Sorry for long quotations, but they are part of the point. People
really have to listen to [or read] such nonsense, over and over again,
especially since it's often in a navigation area repeated at the start
of each and every page of a site. And the site may proudly present an
accessibility stamp. Bobby approved, or whatever.)

More on alt attributes: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/html/alt.html

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Pages about Web authoring: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www.html

Jul 24 '05 #4

P: n/a

"Steve Pugh" <st***@pugh.net> wrote in message
news:15********************************@4ax.com...
"c.thornquist" <c.**********@insightbb.com> wrote:
<fl******@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:11**********************@z14g2000cwz.google groups.com...
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag blank (alt=" ")
or specify something like "alt='spacer'" when referring to objects that
merely help the layout of the page?


alt=""
Not sure if it helps for accessibility, but I try to name every alt tag,
even if it just says "border" or "spacer."


Use a speaking browser and listen to your page. Does alt="spacer"
improve your experience? Does it help you to comprehend and use the
content of the page?

Steve

--
"My theories appal you, my heresies outrage you,
I never answer letters and you don't like my tie." - The Doctor

Steve Pugh <st***@pugh.net> <http://steve.pugh.net/>


I had given it a little thought. Very little, so it seems. But for two
reasons I started naming most images 1) so my pages validated at w3.org and
2) because I didn't want those who couldn't see the images to think they
were missing out on anything important. I'll remember to skip alt tags for
unimportant items in the future. I do not use "spacer" in sliced images.

Carla
Jul 24 '05 #5

P: n/a
Els
c.thornquist wrote:
"Steve Pugh" <st***@pugh.net> wrote in message
news:15********************************@4ax.com...
"c.thornquist" <c.**********@insightbb.com> wrote:
<fl******@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:11**********************@z14g2000cwz.googl egroups.com...
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag blank (alt=" ")
or specify something like "alt='spacer'" when referring to objects that
merely help the layout of the page?


alt=""
Not sure if it helps for accessibility, but I try to name every alt tag,
even if it just says "border" or "spacer."


Use a speaking browser and listen to your page. Does alt="spacer"
improve your experience? Does it help you to comprehend and use the
content of the page?

Steve

--
"My theories appal you, my heresies outrage you,
I never answer letters and you don't like my tie." - The Doctor

Steve Pugh <st***@pugh.net> <http://steve.pugh.net/>


I had given it a little thought. Very little, so it seems. But for two
reasons I started naming most images 1) so my pages validated at w3.org and
2) because I didn't want those who couldn't see the images to think they
were missing out on anything important. I'll remember to skip alt tags for
unimportant items in the future. I do not use "spacer" in sliced images.


Don't "skip alt tags", but leave them empty. Like Steve already said
up^there: alt="". This way the validator doesn't complain, and the alt
value doesn't get read by a speech browser.

--
Els http://locusmeus.com/
Sonhos vem. Sonhos vo. O resto imperfeito.
- Renato Russo -
Jul 24 '05 #6

P: n/a

"Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fi> wrote in message
news:Xn*****************************@193.229.0.31. ..
fl******@comcast.net wrote:

snip> Well, it _can_ get even worse if you are using alt attributes without
the slightest idea or clue:

your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
[LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK]

your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
[LINK]
[LINK]
[LINK]
[LINK]
[LINK]
[LINK]
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
Coming Soon
Coming Soon
Coming Soon

(Sorry for long quotations, but they are part of the point. People
really have to listen to [or read] such nonsense, over and over again,
especially since it's often in a navigation area repeated at the start
of each and every page of a site. And the site may proudly present an
accessibility stamp. Bobby approved, or whatever.)

More on alt attributes: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/html/alt.html

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Pages about Web authoring: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www.html

Sounds like a website under construction. Those of us who see pages like
that are equally dismayed.

Are you saying if a page has 3-4 spacers, don't mark them? If so, will the
visitor think there is an image there? You mean they are not aware of images
unless the alt tag tells them?
I thought readers included more info (like image, no alt). Thanks for
explaining how they work.

Carla
Jul 24 '05 #7

P: n/a
In our last episode,
<11**********************@z14g2000cwz.googlegroups .com>,
the lovely and talented fl******@comcast.net
broadcast on comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag blank (alt=" ")
or specify something like "alt='spacer'" when referring to objects that
merely help the layout of the page?


I think it is better to have an empty ALT (alt="") for images
which are purely decorative (srollwork, etc.). Putting a blank
in the ALT makes it show up as something where it is not wanted.

Using images for spacing never was desirable, but when
implimentations of CSS were very spotty, some years back, I
defended it as necessary in some cases. There is no longer any
good reason to use spacer images.

--
Lars Eighner ei*****@io.com http://www.larseighner.com/
Fast, Cheap, Good: Choose any two.
Jul 24 '05 #8

P: n/a
In our last episode,
<nSk3e.17469$NW5.5789@attbi_s02>,
the lovely and talented c.thornquist
broadcast on comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:

"Steve Pugh" <st***@pugh.net> wrote in message
news:15********************************@4ax.com...
"c.thornquist" <c.**********@insightbb.com> wrote:
<fl******@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:11**********************@z14g2000cwz.googl egroups.com...
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag blank (alt=" ")
or specify something like "alt='spacer'" when referring to objects that
merely help the layout of the page?
alt=""
Not sure if it helps for accessibility, but I try to name every alt tag,
even if it just says "border" or "spacer."


Use a speaking browser and listen to your page. Does alt="spacer"
improve your experience? Does it help you to comprehend and use the
content of the page?

Steve

--
"My theories appal you, my heresies outrage you,
I never answer letters and you don't like my tie." - The Doctor

Steve Pugh <st***@pugh.net> <http://steve.pugh.net/>

I had given it a little thought. Very little, so it seems. But for two
reasons I started naming most images 1) so my pages validated at w3.org and
empty alts will validate (alt=""), leaving alts out altogether
won't.
2) because I didn't want those who couldn't see the images to think they
were missing out on anything important. I'll remember to skip alt tags for
unimportant items in the future. I do not use "spacer" in sliced images.


Most browsers I know of ignore empty alts, leaving nothing to
wonder about.
--
Lars Eighner ei*****@io.com http://www.larseighner.com/
"Shhh! Be vewwy, vewwy quiet! I'm hunting Muswims!"
- President Elmer Bush
Jul 24 '05 #9

P: n/a
"c.thornquist" <c.**********@insightbb.com> wrote in message
news:VZk3e.6213$kT5.2319@attbi_s21...

"Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fi> wrote in message
news:Xn*****************************@193.229.0.31. ..
fl******@comcast.net wrote:

snip>

Well, it _can_ get even worse if you are using alt attributes without
the slightest idea or clue:

your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
[LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK]

your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
[LINK]
[LINK]
[LINK]
[LINK]
[LINK]
[LINK]
your image description here
your image description here
your image description here
Coming Soon
Coming Soon
Coming Soon

(Sorry for long quotations, but they are part of the point. People
really have to listen to [or read] such nonsense, over and over again,
especially since it's often in a navigation area repeated at the start
of each and every page of a site. And the site may proudly present an
accessibility stamp. Bobby approved, or whatever.)

More on alt attributes: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/html/alt.html

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Pages about Web authoring: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www.html

Sounds like a website under construction. Those of us who see pages like
that are equally dismayed.

Are you saying if a page has 3-4 spacers, don't mark them? If so, will the
visitor think there is an image there? You mean they are not aware of
images unless the alt tag tells them?
I thought readers included more info (like image, no alt). Thanks for
explaining how they work.

Carla


If there is no alt attribute, the reader will read the file name (as far as
I can remember, it has been a while since I tested with an actual reader).

Like the others have stated, it is better to use an empty alt attribute (
alt=""") than to leave it out altogether. If an image serves no other use
than decorative (or as a spacer), then an empty alt is the best bet.

--
SamMan
Rip it to reply

Jul 24 '05 #10

P: n/a
fl******@comcast.net wrote:
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag blank (alt=" ")
or specify something like "alt='spacer'" when referring to objects that
merely help the layout of the page?


There's no such thing as an alt tag. Have you ever seen

<alt ...>

?

Alt *attributes* should be left empty (alt="") when an image is purely
for visual appeal and communicates nothing that a blind user would need
or want to know about. Usage like alt="spacer" or alt="corner" or
alt="horizontal line" is horrible: imagine trying to understand a web
page with garbage like "spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer
spacer" strewn through it.
Jul 24 '05 #11

P: n/a
"" wrote in comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag blank (alt=" ")
or specify something like "alt='spacer'" when referring to objects that
merely help the layout of the page?


The alt _attribute_ (not tag) is the text that you want people to
see or hear if they can't see the image.

If the image has no semantic content, the alt attribute should be a
single space or perhaps a zero-length string: alt"" or alt=" ".
Next question: why are you using images as spacers, when CSS lets
you space things more easily and without downloading extra files?

--

Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Tompkins County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com/
Jul 24 '05 #12

P: n/a
"c.thornquist" wrote in comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:
I'll remember to skip alt tags for
unimportant items in the future.


Not "skip", but supply an empty string.

And they're attributes, not tags. Calling an attribute a "tag" is
like fingernails on a blackboard to a lot of us here.

--

Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Tompkins County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com/
Jul 24 '05 #13

P: n/a

"Lars Eighner" <ei*****@io.com> wrote in message
news:sl*******************@goodwill.io.com...
In our last episode,
<nSk3e.17469$NW5.5789@attbi_s02>,
the lovely and talented c.thornquist
broadcast on comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:

<snip>
I had given it a little thought. Very little, so it seems. But for two
reasons I started naming most images 1) so my pages validated at w3.org
and


empty alts will validate (alt=""), leaving alts out altogether
won't.


I wasn't aware that empty alts validated. Thanks.
2) because I didn't want those who couldn't see the images to think they
were missing out on anything important. I'll remember to skip alt tags
for
unimportant items in the future. I do not use "spacer" in sliced images.


Most browsers I know of ignore empty alts, leaving nothing to
wonder about.


I just didn't know exactly how readers worked. I thought maybe they told the
visitor about all images on a page. Guess that's why I left the alts blank
in sliced images. Well, Adobe's Image Ready doesn't even include the alt
attributes in its code for sliced images. So I should add the attribute to
those, but leave them blank.

Thanks much.

Carla
Jul 24 '05 #14

P: n/a

"Stan Brown" <th************@fastmail.fm> wrote in message
news:3b*************@individual.net...
"c.thornquist" wrote in comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:
I'll remember to skip alt tags for
unimportant items in the future.


Not "skip", but supply an empty string.

And they're attributes, not tags. Calling an attribute a "tag" is
like fingernails on a blackboard to a lot of us here.


I see. I was tired & corrected it in my later posts. I was just thinking
this morning that my technical vocabulary is terrible. I think it's because
I've worked alone for the 5 years I've been coding sites. I'm realizing it
helps to "talk shop" with others in the same business. Not just to learn
better ways of doing things, but how to communicate!

Thanks.

Carla
Jul 24 '05 #15

P: n/a
"SamMan" <sa*@psfdevrip-it.com> wrote:
If there is no alt attribute, the reader will read the file name
It depends on the reader. Ditto for text browsers. This is often
configurable. The problem in configuration is that there's no good
alternative. You don't want to hear or see "image image ... image"
when there's a string of icons. And on the other hand you don't want to
miss vital information without even knowing about (i.e., you don't want
to have such images completely suppresses in rendering, since you might
miss any clue of the presence of, say, an organization chart or
mathematical formula presented as image).

But that's about _error recovery_. From the authoring point of view,
the author just has to do things right, writing a _correct_ alt
attribute for every image.
Like the others have stated, it is better to use an empty alt
attribute ( alt=""") than to leave it out altogether.
You mean alt="" of course.
If an image
serves no other use than decorative (or as a spacer), then an empty
alt is the best bet.


Yes, though in special cases, a spacer should have alt=" " (a space
character as the value). If a spacer image is the only thing that
separates two pieces of texts that shouldn't run, then it's better to
use alt=" ". That way, the texts don't run together in text browsers.
(Such situations are undesirable, but _if_ you have such usage of
spacer images, the immediate fix is to use alt=" ". Then you should
probably start thinking of a different approach.)

P.S. Please trim your quotations to the essential. Think about a blind
person who tries to follow the discussions and has to listen to dozens
of lines of quoted text and still not know, when getting at a poster's
own text, which part thereof will be commented. It isn't easy for the
rest of us either.

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Pages about Web authoring: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www.html

Jul 24 '05 #16

P: n/a
c.thornquist wrote:
I see. I was tired & corrected it in my later posts. I was just thinking
this morning that my technical vocabulary is terrible. I think it's because
I've worked alone for the 5 years I've been coding sites. I'm realizing it
helps to "talk shop" with others in the same business. Not just to learn
better ways of doing things, but how to communicate!


You're coming along fine, IMO.

If you really want to learn something, try teaching it. I really have
to study (these groups help) up on what I tell the students because not
only do they want to know how, but they also ask why.

--
Stan McCann "Uncle Pirate" http://stanmccann.us/pirate.html
Webmaster/Computer Center Manager, NMSU at Alamogordo
Coordinator, Tularosa Basin Chapter, ABATE of NM; AMA#758681; COBB
'94 1500 Vulcan (now wrecked) :( http://motorcyclefun.org/Dcp_2068c.jpg
A zest for living must include a willingness to die. - R.A. Heinlein
Jul 24 '05 #17

P: n/a
Lars Eighner wrote:

In our last episode,
<11**********************@z14g2000cwz.googlegroups .com>,
the lovely and talented fl******@comcast.net
broadcast on comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag blank (alt=" ")
or specify something like "alt='spacer'" when referring to objects that
merely help the layout of the page?


I think it is better to have an empty ALT (alt="") for images
which are purely decorative (srollwork, etc.). Putting a blank
in the ALT makes it show up as something where it is not wanted.

Using images for spacing never was desirable, but when
implimentations of CSS were very spotty, some years back, I
defended it as necessary in some cases. There is no longer any
good reason to use spacer images.


I found that Internet Explorer fails to display the borders around
empty table cells properly. If I have an empty cell, I put a small
blank image there; IE then displays it correctly. The ALT
attributes of these null images is ALT="".

Before any table where I do this, I have a paragraph with the CSS
class "nostyle" that explains the null images:
.nostyle { display: none }
I do this with the assumption that an audio browser vocalizing ALT
attributes would not use style-sheets. Thus, the user would hear
an explanation of why there are images without any ALT text.
Anyone using a browser with style-sheets would not see that
paragraph.

--

David E. Ross
<URL:http://www.rossde.com/>

I use Mozilla as my Web browser because I want a browser that
complies with Web standards. See <URL:http://www.mozilla.org/>.
Jul 24 '05 #18

P: n/a
In message <42***************@nowhere.not>, David Ross
<no****@nowhere.not> writes
Lars Eighner wrote:

In our last episode,
<11**********************@z14g2000cwz.googlegroups .com>,
the lovely and talented fl******@comcast.net
broadcast on comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:
> I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag blank (alt=" ")
> or specify something like "alt='spacer'" when referring to objects that
> merely help the layout of the page?
I think it is better to have an empty ALT (alt="") for images
which are purely decorative (srollwork, etc.). Putting a blank
in the ALT makes it show up as something where it is not wanted.

Using images for spacing never was desirable, but when
implimentations of CSS were very spotty, some years back, I
defended it as necessary in some cases. There is no longer any
good reason to use spacer images.


I found that Internet Explorer fails to display the borders around
empty table cells properly. If I have an empty cell, I put a small
blank image there; IE then displays it correctly. The ALT
attributes of these null images is ALT="".

Before any table where I do this, I have a paragraph with the CSS
class "nostyle" that explains the null images:
.nostyle { display: none }
I do this with the assumption that an audio browser vocalizing ALT
attributes would not use style-sheets. Thus, the user would hear
an explanation of why there are images without any ALT text.
Anyone using a browser with style-sheets would not see that
paragraph.


Not really a good idea as most AT UAs will respect the 'display:none'
and not speak anything styled as '.nostyle' ;-)

One common technique is to position the text in hyperspace (<------way
over there) so that its not visible in the browser's viewing space, but
will be seen and spoken by the AT UA.

(... although alt="" is probably adequate in such circumstances.)

regards.


--
Jake

Jul 24 '05 #19

P: n/a
"c.thornquist" <c.**********@insightbb.com> wrote:
I just didn't know exactly how readers worked. I thought maybe they
told the visitor about all images on a page.
They normally don't. For example, if the page contains just decorative
images and a banner containing a company's name, there is absolutely no
reason why a user should know about the images if he does not see them.
Instead, the decorative images should be ignored and the company's name
shown (in some font) or spoken where the banner appears. (Actually,
this is a judgement call. You might use alt="" for the banner as well,
if the text identifies the company well enough.)
Guess that's why I
left the alts blank in sliced images. Well, Adobe's Image Ready
doesn't even include the alt attributes in its code for sliced
images. So I should add the attribute to those, but leave them
blank.


Which sliced images? And why should their alt attributes be blank?

I noticed that my treatise on alt texts lacked notes about sliced
images, for some strange reason, so I added some:
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/html/alt.html#sliced

Basically, consecutive img elements that together present something
that is logically one image are best treated so that the _first_ img
element has an alt text that corresponds to the entire image, and
the rest have alt="". The first alt text should then be written
according to normal principles on alt texts, and could in fact be
alt="" if the image is purely decorative.

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Pages about Web authoring: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www.html

Jul 24 '05 #20

P: n/a
On Sat, 2 Apr 2005, c.thornquist wrote:
"Lars Eighner" <ei*****@io.com> wrote in message
news:sl*******************@goodwill.io.com...
empty alts will validate (alt=""), leaving alts out altogether
won't.


I wasn't aware that empty alts validated. Thanks.


We seem to be at serious risk of discussing the correct ALT text - for
images which oughtn't to be there in the first place. "Spacer images"
are a kludge from the previous millennium, and really have no business
to be in modern web pages. Once that's been solved, we no longer have
to worry whether their ALT text should be "", or " " -- or maybe even
" &nbsp; ".

But, just in case there be any misunderstanding here, yes there can be
justifiable reasons for using such ALT texts, namely in relation to
images which are purely for visual decoration without contributing
substantive content.[1] And the WAI guidelines confirm this.
I just didn't know exactly how readers worked.


That's OK, we're all of us still learning something, unless we're
already dead. But if you're in a position to install a trial version
of IBM HPR, I'd suggest doing so, as just one example of the genre.
One can learn a lot by actually using it, in a way that simply isn't
evident from someone else telling you about it. The trial
installation is time-limited, so set aside some time to play with it
while it's still working.
http://www-3.ibm.com/able/solution_offerings/hpr.html

cheers

[1] Although some have argued that such images should be applied via
CSS if they aren't to be considered as part of the substantive
content.

Jul 24 '05 #21

P: n/a
On Fri, 1 Apr 2005, Harlan Messinger wrote:
There's no such thing as an alt tag.
Since it was 1st April, I can't help feeling that a reference to
http://www.flightlab.com/~joe/sgml/faq-not.txt
would be appropriate. See part 5, terminology.

Seriously, though, it can be important to use the right terms. For
example, HTML *does* have a "title" tag, (i.e <title> in the <head>),
and so a reference to the "title" attribute as a "tag" would be
definitely misleading. HTML4 also has a "lang" attribute, as well as
a &lang; entity. So there are distinct risks of misunderstanding if
the wrong terms are used.
know about. Usage like alt="spacer" or alt="corner" or
alt="horizontal line" is horrible: imagine trying to understand a
web page with garbage like "spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer" strewn through it.


Try Google image search on the phrase "for layout only". View some of
the resulting pages in Lynx. Shudder.
Jul 24 '05 #22

P: n/a
Gazing into my crystal ball I observed "Alan J. Flavell"
<fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> writing in news:Pine.LNX.4.61.0504020941120.3657
@ppepc56.ph.gla.ac.uk:
I just didn't know exactly how readers worked.


That's OK, we're all of us still learning something, unless we're
already dead. But if you're in a position to install a trial version
of IBM HPR, I'd suggest doing so, as just one example of the genre.
One can learn a lot by actually using it, in a way that simply isn't
evident from someone else telling you about it. The trial
installation is time-limited, so set aside some time to play with it
while it's still working.
http://www-3.ibm.com/able/solution_offerings/hpr.html


HPR is also great for proof reading. Sometimes, when you reading
something, your mind will automatically put in missing words, so you miss
them. The reader doesn't do that, and you hear a mistake right away.

--
Adrienne Boswell
http://www.cavalcade-of-coding.info
Please respond to the group so others can share
Jul 24 '05 #23

P: n/a
fl******@comcast.net wrote:
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag


Please learn correct terminology.
http://lachy.id.au/log/2004/12/html-tags

--
Lachlan Hunt
http://lachy.id.au/
http://GetFirefox.com/ Rediscover the Web
http://GetThunderbird.com/ Reclaim your Inbox
Jul 24 '05 #24

P: n/a
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
But if you're in a position to install a trial version
of IBM HPR, I'd suggest doing so, as just one example of the genre.
One can learn a lot by actually using it,


That is certainly a good idea, and it would also be a good idea to test
with the latest Opera 8 (beta 3) which contains both text-to-speech and
speech recognition. It is also not a limited trial version like HPR.

I'm not sure how Opera's screen reader compares with the more mature
screen reading products like HPR (which, no-doubt, have more advanced
screen reading features), but it's a good applicatio to test none-the-less.

--
Lachlan Hunt
http://lachy.id.au/
http://GetFirefox.com/ Rediscover the Web
http://GetThunderbird.com/ Reclaim your Inbox
Jul 24 '05 #25

P: n/a
On Sat, 2 Apr 2005, Lachlan Hunt wrote:
I'm not sure how Opera's screen reader compares with the more mature
screen reading products like HPR


Just to be clear on this, HPR is a speaking browser, NOT a "screen
reader" in the conventional sense. I.e on the one hand it renders the
actual document - it doesn't go scraping characters off the screen and
trying to speak-out what it found. In that sense, it has a much
better idea about the structure of the document which it is rendering.

On the other hand it doesn't help users in the least with reading the
words off other application windows - it's a browser and only a
browser.

Jul 24 '05 #26

P: n/a
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
Just to be clear on this, HPR is a speaking browser, NOT a "screen
reader" in the conventional sense...

On the other hand it doesn't help users in the least with reading the
words off other application windows - it's a browser and only a
browser.


Well, the HPR web site [1] suggests otherwise. Apparently, it will now
read the desktop and selected applications such as Adobe, Macromedia
Flash, Notepad, WordPad and Windows Explorer.

[1] http://www-3.ibm.com/able/solution_offerings/hpr.html

--
Lachlan Hunt
http://lachy.id.au/
http://GetFirefox.com/ Rediscover the Web
http://GetThunderbird.com/ Reclaim your Inbox
Jul 24 '05 #27

P: n/a
On Sun, 3 Apr 2005, Lachlan Hunt wrote:
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
Just to be clear on this, HPR is a speaking browser, NOT a "screen
reader" in the conventional sense...

On the other hand it doesn't help users in the least with reading
the words off other application windows - it's a browser and only
a browser.


Well, the HPR web site [1] suggests otherwise. Apparently, it will now read
the desktop and selected applications such as Adobe, Macromedia Flash,
Notepad, WordPad and Windows Explorer.


OK, then I'm somewhat out of date (although I had different
"applications" in mind than those). I'd still say it's not directly
comparable with products like JAWS, Window-Eyes and so on.

all the best
Jul 24 '05 #28

P: n/a
On Sat, 2 Apr 2005 09:59:32 +0100, "Alan J. Flavell"
<fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote:
"Spacer images"
are a kludge from the previous millennium, and really have no business
to be in modern web pages.


"Spacer images" are still a perfectly valid thing to be discussing
(and still need their alt="")

We might have removed the need for 1x1pixel.gif as a sizing measure,
but there are still "victorian curlicues" and the like used as borders
and graphic eyecandy. These don't go away (you can't do everything
with background-image) and they still need the blank alt attribute.
PS (as no-one else seems to have mentioned it) use a title attribute
on your images too. This can contain the same text as alt, if you
don't have any better ideas. If you're expecting rollover pop-ups and
tooltips to work, be aware that IE used to extract these from the alt
attribute but FireFox will only take them from the title. As their use
has become an expected feature by many users, and many content
developers have long used alt attributes to control the pop-up they've
come to expect, then you will need to be able to reproduce the same
behaviour under FireFox.

If you're the content author (rather than just a web technician,
setting out someone else's words) then word the alt and title
differently. Write a title that's a title, for use in conjunction
with the image. Write an alt text that's a substitute for it, in place
of the image.

e.g. for woodstove.htm you might have this:

<img src="stove_door_open.jpg"
alt="Woodstove, showing the door open and the airvalve"
title="Air valve mechanism"
/>
Jul 24 '05 #29

P: n/a
David Ross <no****@nowhere.not> wrote:
I found that Internet Explorer fails to display the borders around
empty table cells properly.
IE follows the old semi-official (see HTML 3.2 spec) practice in this
respect as well as the practice that a space counts as empty, no-break
space (&nbsp;) as nonempty. Of course, you cannot always afford putting
a character into a cell. Then again, most empty cells in data tables
would best be replaced by cells with some actual content, if only
a dash or zero or "." for example.
If I have an empty cell, I put a small
blank image there; IE then displays it correctly. The ALT
attributes of these null images is ALT="".
That's a common workaround, and rather harmless if you have that
alt="".

You could also set
table { border-collapse: collapse; }
which works on IE 6 and puts borders around empty cells too.
Of course you might not want to make borders collapse with no spacing
between cells.
Before any table where I do this, I have a paragraph with the CSS
class "nostyle" that explains the null images:
.nostyle { display: none }


Don't. It just confuses some people without helping anyone. And there's
no inherent connection between showing images and applying stylesheets.

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Pages about Web authoring: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www.html

Jul 24 '05 #30

P: n/a
On Sat, 2 Apr 2005, Andy Dingley wrote:
On Sat, 2 Apr 2005 09:59:32 +0100, "Alan J. Flavell"
<fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote:
"Spacer images" are a kludge from the previous millennium, and
really have no business to be in modern web pages.
"Spacer images" are still a perfectly valid thing to be discussing


Maybe this hinges on your interpretation of the term "spacer images"
(and still need their alt="")
If the images are there, they surely do need it, no dispute about
that.
We might have removed the need for 1x1pixel.gif as a sizing measure,
Then I'll give you your clue-iron back, with thanks ;-)
but there are still "victorian curlicues" and the like used as borders
and graphic eyecandy.
It's an option, certainly...
These don't go away (you can't do everything with background-image)
I'll continue to agree that it's an option - albeit some will argue
that if it's merely decorative - and thus not part of the substantive
content - other considerations might supervene.
and they still need the blank alt attribute.
If the other desiderata have been fulfilled, then I'm not disagreeing.
PS (as no-one else seems to have mentioned it) use a title attribute
on your images too.
Well, IMHO first one should understand (1) what the attribute is for
and (2) what it actually does in typical browsers (and in that
priority order).
This can contain the same text as alt,
....but ideally shoudn't, since the alt text is meant to be an
appropriate *alternative* to the image, whereas the title text is
meant to be supplementary text when the image /is/ being presented.
If you're the content author (rather than just a web technician,
setting out someone else's words) then word the alt and title
differently. Write a title that's a title, for use in conjunction
with the image. Write an alt text that's a substitute for it, in place
of the image.


Good advice, finally; but why should this be overridden by someone who
understands how to manage their design staff but has not been supplied
with a clue about the WWW?

If the manglement is so inept in its directives for choice of alt and
title text, then surely the first priority is not to calmly acceed to
their silly demands, but to find some way of educating them?

(I just hope that my latest punch-up with manglement about their
intention to move from my em font sizes, to their ideal px font sizes,
doesn't end in tears. Well - never mind, I'm ready for retirement
anyway. If they chuck me out, it'll probably be for the best, on
both sides.)
Jul 24 '05 #31

P: n/a
Lachlan Hunt wrote:
fl******@comcast.net wrote:
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag



Congratulations, Lachlan, you were like the 10th individual to point
this error out. Just in case the OP missed the previous 9 homilies, huh? ;)
Jul 24 '05 #32

P: n/a
Peter1968 wrote:
Lachlan Hunt wrote:
fl******@comcast.net wrote:
I'm wondering whether it's better to leave an alt tag

Congratulations, Lachlan, you were like the 10th individual to point
this error out. Just in case the OP missed the previous 9 homilies, huh? ;)


Yes, but others that I had recieved and read at the time only mentioned
that it's an attribute not a tag without providing any further
information. I, on the other hand, provided link to a useful document
that explains some of the more common terminology.

--
Lachlan Hunt
http://lachy.id.au/
http://GetFirefox.com/ Rediscover the Web
http://GetThunderbird.com/ Reclaim your Inbox
Jul 24 '05 #33

P: n/a
On Sun, 3 Apr 2005 00:28:39 +0100, "Alan J. Flavell"
<fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote:
If the manglement is so inept in its directives for choice of alt and
title text, then surely the first priority is not to calmly acceed to
their silly demands, but to find some way of educating them?


You work in academia, don't you ?

Jul 24 '05 #34

P: n/a
On Sun, 3 Apr 2005, Andy Dingley wrote:
On Sun, 3 Apr 2005 00:28:39 +0100, "Alan J. Flavell"
<fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote:
If the manglement is so inept in its directives for choice of alt and
title text, then surely the first priority is not to calmly acceed to
their silly demands, but to find some way of educating them?


You work in academia, don't you ?


That's no secret. But if you imagine that means that manglement are
readily amenable to being educated about IT matters, you have a
completely unrealistic view of academia, I must say.

Nevertheless, we techies try not to shirk the duty of trying to find
some way of educating them, when the opportunity arises.
Jul 24 '05 #35

P: n/a
On Sun, 3 Apr 2005 13:24:11 +0100, "Alan J. Flavell"
<fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> wrote:
But if you imagine that means that manglement are
readily amenable to being educated about IT matters, you have a
completely unrealistic view of academia, I must say.


I've worked with both. Academic management _aren't_ quite so stupidly
ignorant. They may be equally resistant to education, but they're not
so bad to begin with.

Jul 24 '05 #36

P: n/a
On Sun, 03 Apr 2005 17:26:27 +1000, Lachlan Hunt
<sp***********@gmail.com> wrote:

Congratulations, Lachlan, you were like the 10th individual to point
this error out. Just in case the OP missed the previous 9 homilies, huh? ;)


Yes, but others that I had recieved and read at the time only mentioned
that it's an attribute not a tag without providing any further
information. I, on the other hand, provided link to a useful document
that explains some of the more common terminology.


Congratulations! You win!
Jul 24 '05 #37

P: n/a
c.thornquist wrote:
I was just thinking
this morning that my technical vocabulary is terrible. I think it's because
I've worked alone for the 5 years I've been coding sites. I'm realizing it
helps to "talk shop" with others in the same business. Not just to learn
better ways of doing things, but how to communicate!


I know /exactly/ what you mean :-)

I was a self-employed programmer for about as long & in these respects
worse still, self-taught. I knew the work but couldn't discuss it at all
easily. It made subsequent job interviews fun.

--
Michael
m r o z a t u k g a t e w a y d o t n e t
Jul 24 '05 #38

P: n/a
In article <Xn*****************************@193.229.0.31>, "Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fi> wrote:
David Ross <no****@nowhere.not> wrote:
I found that Internet Explorer fails to display the borders around
empty table cells properly.


IE follows the old semi-official (see HTML 3.2 spec) practice in this
respect as well as the practice that a space counts as empty, no-break
space (&nbsp;) as nonempty. [...rest of paragraph trimmed...]
If I have an empty cell, I put a small
blank image there; IE then displays it correctly. The ALT
attributes of these null images is ALT="".


That's a common workaround, and rather harmless if you have that
alt="".


Hmm. I never realized folks did it that way. I've always done this by
putting &nbsp; in "empty" cells since, as you indicated, the specs are for the
browser to treat &nbsp; as non-empty, and hence cause a border to be
displayed.

This seems a better way to me then using an empty IMG. While the extra bytes
of the IMG element, compared to &nbsp;, are insignificant, forcing additional
HTTP GETs to the server may not be, especially if you have a very busy site.
Or is there a down side to "my" method that I am not aware of?

Of course, causing additional requests are not as bad with HTTP/1.1 as it was
with HTTP/1.0, since the browser can now issue multiple GETS in the same TCP
and HTTP session. Still, getting the same effect with less typing (when
creating the markup), less network traffic, and less disk I/O makes the geek
in me happy :)
Jul 24 '05 #39

P: n/a
jc****@switch.com (John C. Ring, Jr.) wrote:
While the
extra bytes of the IMG element, compared to &nbsp;, are
insignificant, forcing additional HTTP GETs to the server may not
be, especially if you have a very busy site.
Indeed. (By the way, you can save five out of six octets - when using
ISO 8859-1 for example - by entering the no-break space character
itself, instead of the entity reference &nbsp;.)
Or is there a down
side to "my" method that I am not aware of?


The usual reason for using a dummy image rather than a no-break space
in a cell is the fact that the no-break space is treated as a real
character with some size, determined by the font in use. This prevents
attempts to make the cell very narrow in either direction, as authors
may wish to do when using empty cells for layout purposes (e.g., for
imitating a border).

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Pages about Web authoring: http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www.html

Jul 24 '05 #40

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