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Re: Microformats (was address tag)


From: Alastair Campbell
Date: Feb 20, 2007 5:30AM

I think we will go in circles unless we separate what currently happens
from what should happen, and what is proposed to happen in future.

I wrote:
> > Displaying the title on mouseover is unfortunate,

Jukka replied:
> If it's unfortunate, then you're abusing the attribute.

I could argue that the title is providing extra information, the full
date in a standard. However, it's quite a stretch and I won't.

Currently, only mouseover in visual browsers displays that attribute to
the user. Unfortunate, but not the end of the world as it is in reaction
to the user doing something specific. It doesn't get in the way. If the
title were read-out by assistive technologies inline, that would be

Titles aren't read out (by default) by current assistive technologies,
but they can and should be an option on certain elements. Off hand,
things like acronym, abbr, and most form elements.

Assistive technology vendors aren't likely to make titles read out by
default, as that title isn't a common attribute on many HTML elements
[1]. In future, without a use-case for titles on everything, that level
of support is unlikely to change.

Jukka wrote:
> To putting some hidden content onto web pages, to be
> consumed by specialized software? Sorry, I don't play that
> game, and I've
> been explaining why that's at least potentially hostile to
> accessibility.

To enable the kind of functionality that Microformats provide (which can
be useful for everyone), it does require that the content be in the

Observers may think I'm over selling the usefulness of Microformats, or
that you are blowing out of proportion the accessibility issues.
Hopefully the following clarifies things.

Currently, the main issue with Microformats is that the (not-very
understandable) date is shown on mouseover.

Currently, people are using microformats to save time, and receive
updates straight to their calendar with two clicks.

In future, assistive technologies might start using the title attribute
more, and these titles would be confusing.

In future, people will be able to select information straight from a web
page and send it to other applications, in a way that is far easier (and
more accessible?) than having to read through the page and type things.

>From a standards point of view, we have to use current markup. I would
suggest that assistive technologies do make use of title on certain
elements, and updates to the standards (HTML primarily and the
Microformats pages) reflect this.

Microformats are being used now by large companies such as Yahoo (which
has marked up millions of pages already), and will be by Microsoft
(according to Bill Gates).

I think that practical options for us at the moment are to get onboard
and make sure it's accessible in practice, or be ignored.

I wrote:
> > People who want to keep upto date with events, and not have
> > to type in 15 events into their own calendar by hand.

Jukka replied:
> Can't you give the same (or better) service to _all_ users
> simply using a subscribable email list with a link to the
> updated calendar (as a normal, accessible web page)?

Nope. I take it you haven't tried it? I'd recommend giving it a go. With
a couple of clicks you can add calendar items (that would take me 30
minutes to type into each place) to you computer's calendar, a Google
calendar, and your phone's calendar.

I do highlight updates, and send emails out linking back to the up to
date calendar. As an organisation we get more competitors (paying
participants) the easier we make it for people to remember and attend
the events.

Currently, most people print out the calendar, but if their own computer
reminds them about events, they are much more likely to attend!



1. http://code.google.com/webstats/2005-12/elements.html

Alastair Campbell | Director of User Experience

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