ALT attribute & Conformance levels (Dale Dougherty)
From: (Dale Dougherty)
Message-id: <>
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 1993 11:45:22 -0700
X-Mailer: Z-Mail (2.1.0 10/27/92)
Subject: ALT attribute & Conformance levels
My initial interest in writing this message was to find out
which non-graphical browsers support the ALT attribute
for the IMG tag (or for that matter do anything but ignore the
IMG tag.)  Lynx does support it and we have used it in GNN for
navigational icons.  It solves a problem for us, allowing us
to put the label in the graphic icon rather than in the markup,
while making the text available for non-graphical browsers.

We have had complaints from users of the line-mode browser
and the VMS browser as well as the curses-browser at NJIT.  
This raises a general point of interest and concern in
the WWW community.  Unfortunately,
we have to tell people that we can't accommodate those browsers
by changing the documents.

There are a number of browsers out there
that I regard as having "inactive" status.  They aren't
keeping up with current developments, and may not work 
properly for a wide range of WWW documents.  Should the WWW
project continue to list these browsers?  Is there any
kind of conformance-level test that we might devise?  I
do believe users will decide for themselves, and choose
the browsers that do perform reasonably well on the widest
range of information.  However, as Mosaic adds new 
functionality to the Web in a manner that's agreed upon
by participants of the Web, such as input forms, we
are going to find more incompatible browsers.  I would
rather see us be proactive in classifying browsers, so
that we help users identify the right browser for their

If I can get some agreement on classification, I will
begin tell GNN subscribers that we recommend they use
a Level 1 WWW client (for example).

I'm not sure I understand all the details but we might
classify functionality according to HTML, HTTP and URLs.
Here's a first cut at defining three conformance levels. 
Please feel free to elaborate on the details.

Level 0

Supports original HTML, pre-DTD.
Supports HTTP/.9.   

Level 1

Supports HTML extensions introduced by Mosaic such as the
IMG tag.  Currently, the 1.x Mosaic clients and 
Lynx are level 1 conformant. 

Level 2

Supports HTML Input forms extensions, (partial) support
for HTML+.   Supports HTTP/1.0.

I'd appreciate any feedback.  

Dale Dougherty ( 
Publisher, Global Network Navigator, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
103A Morris Street, Sebastopol, California 95472 
(707) 829-3762 (home office); 1-800-998-9938