[whatwg] alt and title attribute exception

Philip Jägenstedt philipj at opera.com
Tue Jul 31 02:18:37 PDT 2012

On Fri, 27 Jul 2012 11:34:03 +0200, Steve Faulkner
<faulkner.steve at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi all,
> The spec currently allows img without alt if the title attribute is  
> present
> This is problematic for a number of reasons:
> 1. One of the functions of alt as implemented is that the text is  
> displayed
> when images are disabled or not available . I ran some tests a while
> back[1] and found that while webkit based browsers display title  
> attribute
> content if images are disabled or not available, IE, Firefox and Opera do
> not. I did a quick recheck and focund the implementations have not  
> changed
> in the 2.5 years since I ran those tests.
> 2. title attribute content is commonly displayed as a tooltip that  
> appears
> when a user moves their mouse over an element (in this case an img) It is
> long running issue (14 years or so) that tooltips and thus title  
> attribute
> content is not displayed for keyboard only users. Browsers vendors are
> fully aware of the issue, but as yet there have not yet been moves to fix
> the issue*

When this was last discussed in the HTML WG (January 2012) I opened a bug  
(MOBILE-275) for Opera Mobile to expose the title attribute in our  
long-click menu, arguing that one could not enjoy XKCD without it. I meant  
to report back to the HTML WG but forgot, so here it is. Unfortunately,  
the bug was rejected... quoting the project management:

"Sure it is nice to have, but noone else has it so we will not put our  
effort into this"

"Also, we had concerns about where this belongs, UI-wise. The context menu  
is a bit too prominent to display it in, in my opinion. I would like to  
have this, as xkcd isn't the only web comic I read that uses it, but I  
can't think of a way of doing it that doesn't add bloat."

AFAICT there's also no way to read the alt attribute on Opera Mobile. I  
don't know what conclusions to draw, but if the situation is the same on  
other mobile browsers and they are also unwilling to change, it seems  
unwise to recommend using the title attribute to convey important  
information. Of course, it would be equally unwise to use any other new or  
existing attribute unless mobile browsers expose them in some way.

Philip Jägenstedt
Core Developer
Opera Software

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