[uf-discuss] RFC: sHTML Video Thumbnailing

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis bhawkeslewis at googlemail.com
Mon May 28 08:47:41 PDT 2007

Charles Iliya Krempeaux wrote:

>> This is a tempting argument, but in theory and practice a problematic
>> one. <q> and <blockquote> are not merely intended to be "portions of a
>> larger document" but to be /quotations/:
> True... but is the <abbr> element designed for the way Microformats do 
> dates?
> It seems like the same problem as that isn't it.
> And if we accept that screen readers can adapt to dates with the
> <abbr> element, then why not accept that they can adapt to thumbnails
> in a <q> element?

But I /don't/ accept that. IMHO microformats currently abuse <abbr> and 
perhaps (more debatably) title for time and location, violating the 
standards-based credos of the movement with poor consequences for 
assistive technology which have already been widely discussed on the 
list. And even if screen readers can eventually adapt to read ISO dates 
and geographical data as anything other than gibberish, their users will 
lag behind the times because mainstream screen readers are prohibitively 
expensive. On balance, I'd prefer innovators to depart from the HTML 
specification by introducing new attributes for new parsers with a 
custom DTD than to break HTML documents in existing user agents by 
abusing the semantics of old elements. (Not that a custom DTD would be a 
great idea either, just the lesser of two evils.)

But at least the misuse of abbr for ISO time and location was useful for 
parsers, whereas this misuse (if we agree it is such) of <q> isn't.

>> I don't think "quote Dorothy encounters the Lion end quote" would be a
>> human readable hint that it's a thumbnail from a video. Unless you
>> happen to be a microformats guru. ;)
> What about what I mentioned above... about using alt text like...
>  alt="Thumbnail of Dorothy encountering the Lion"
> So that would read...
>  "quote Thumbnail of Dorothy encountering the Lion end quote"

Well that's an improvement. But in that case what's actually 
communicating the semantic" is "Thumbnail of", not <q>. And "quote" 
still confuses the issue.

Also, I think "Thumbnail of" will prove harder to internationalize than 
"Still:" or "Thumbnail:", which would mean parsers would struggle to get 
at the alternative text proper.

> Yeah... I'm actually using a "captioning" sHTML in a piece of software
> that hasn't been made public yet.  (Perhaps I'll describe it on this
> list later... and get it reviewed.)


Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

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