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Re: lynx-dev Still learning about what Goes Wrong.

From: Lloyd Rasmussen
Subject: Re: lynx-dev Still learning about what Goes Wrong.
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2000 10:19:47 -0400

Comments interspersed below:

On Fri, 28 Jul 2000 16:24:56 -0500, Martin McCormick wrote:

>        A number of our web sites at Oklahoma State University
>have recently been upgraded and have become just awful as far as
>accessibility goes.  A few have not one single link that works
>under lynx and I have noticed that every one of them was
>generated with Microsoft Frontpage of various versions.
>        I thought I had figured out that anything generated with
>this software was dead on arrival, but I just got the shock of my
>life, yesterday.
Just because the <head> section says that the "generator" was Frontpage
doesn't mean that the code wasn't hand-tuned after that.  But these web
authoring tools have many options which an author can choose to use or
to ignore.  

>        There is a web site operated by one of the Oklahoma City
>television stations whose url is
>if anybody wants to try it out.  I have always thought it worked
>quite well with lynx and I have used it on occasion for several
>years to look up things like the Oklahoma City Bombing trial
>transcripts and the Starr Report on Bill Clinton's activities as
>well as lighter fair.
>        I have always been able to read anything on that site
>that was text to start with and I always knew what link was
>highlighted, etc.  In other words, it works as well as one would
>expect a very busy web site to work.
>        Curious about what they use to generate their web pages,
>I used the lynx -source flag to download the html so I could read
>        I was shocked to see that it was generated with Microsoft
>Frontpage 2.0 or something like that.
>        The problem appears to be that many sites use the
>"onclick" javascript mechanism to select links and lynx can
>neither understand nor generate responses to javascript.
>        Is there some sort of flag or switch in MS Frontpage that
>controls whether mouse clicks or some other device is used?
>        It seems that a number of sites would probably work quite
>well if the older system was used for selecting links.  It is my
>understanding that both methods can coexist so there doesn't need
>to be a problem.
The W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines state, as one of the
top-level priorities, that when scripts are used, the web page should
provide equivalent alternative content by means which do not require
scripts.   If you look in that specification under ,
you should find links to their discussion of what techniques might be
used by web authors.

>        The bottom line is that I don't know enough about this
>subject to even know what I am looking for, but if we can find
>out what it is, it might be possible to head off a lot of trouble
>by just telling all the web teams and designers around campus to
>be sure to do this or not to do that.
>        One non working site was made to work when one of the
>programmers gave me another link to the material which bypassed
>the home page.  It worked like a charm and I read everything that
>was there.
>        Another dead site has no alternative link that I know of
>so it is still death by javascript for that site.
>        Assuming that there is a particular mechanism or the
>abuse there of that is involved, does the w3c site say anything
>about it?
>        Knowing what "it" is would make it easier to search for,
>       For the lynx list;  I know, I could read all the code,
>but does the client simply transmit the url of the highlighted
>link back to the server when one hits Enter?
>       On a lot of sites, the real problem is a breakdown of the
>ability to read valid links and select one of them.  It is my
>understanding that javascript that causes images to move and does
>similar graphical things is totally ignored by lynx so it does
>not hurt anything.  It is what is missing that breaks
The W3C is also well along in delivering authoring tool accessibility
guidelines, and some people from Microsoft, Macromedia and other
vendors participate in the discussion, although there is a lot of
disagreement about how hard to prod the operator of the tool.  Any of
us who are serious about further development of Lynx should look at the
User Agent Accessibility Guidelines from the W3C and try to figure out
whether Lynx is missing anything that would be useful and could be
reasonably implemented.  

Lloyd Rasmussen, Kensington, Maryland
home:  <address@hidden> <>
Work:  <address@hidden>         <>

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