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Alt text problems on Mac browsers (IE 4.5 and Navigator 4.72)

Posted on 2000-02-24
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Last Modified: 2013-12-25
Im attempting to display image alt text for all of my images (when the mouse cursor is placed over the image, I would like to have the alt text appear in the form of a "tool-tip").

My image source is:

<img height="12" width="12" border="0" src="../images/tn0.gif" alt="test2">

The alt text displays as a "tool-tip" just fine when my cursor is placed over the image on a PC (using both IE5 and Netscape 4.72) - however, when I attempt to place my cursor over the image on the Mac (using either IE4.5 or Navigator 4.72), no alt text appears.

Ive done just about everyting I can think of  - please lend a hand if you can.

Thanks.
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Question by:eason
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Expert Comment

by:mgfranz
ID: 2555960
The alternative text can be displayed either in place of the shape’s image in the Web browser , or directly over the image when the mouse pointer hovers over the image (in browsers that support these features).

The Mac browsers do not support this feature.
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Author Comment

by:eason
ID: 2555970
Do you happen to have documentation (from Apple, Netscape or Microsoft) to this effect?   It seems odd that mac browsers would not support this feature.

If you can produce evidence, these 500 points be yours.

Thanks for the help.
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by:mgfranz
ID: 2556011
I'm looking... :-)
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by:mgfranz
ID: 2556122
What I have found so far is a thorough explaination on the use of the <img alt=...> in HTML language.  Apparently the use of the 'alt' tag in the browsers is a fluke for both NN and IE, it is intended to be used for browsers that do not support images and the disabled viewers only, according to W3C the use of 'alt text' is implemented in browsers for visual impact only, and in case the images ability to load has been disable.  

"Alternative Text and Long Descriptions

For elements such as images (and other multimedia objects) you must provide alternative text. This will usually be presented instead of the image by a browser with a
voice output system, or a Braille display (used by many people who are blind). It is also common for users with low-quality connections to request the alternative view,
as text is transmitted much faster than images.

The alternative text should replace the image in function. For example, if the image is used to provide an icon linking to a reference point (the first link on this page, to
the W3C 'homepage', is such a link) then the title of the reference would be a good alternative text.

There are also cases where an image is used for purely visual effect, and does not add any information value to the page. In this case it is appropriate to use a blank
alternative, although that must still be defined - enter two double quotes for alternative (eg. alt="").

In cases where the image conveys important information which is not available from the text of the document you must also provide a description of the information. The
longdesc option of the Attributes menu allows you to link a description (which is a URI - a separate document, or named part of the current document) to the image.

In order to give an idea of how a page might be presented without the images, Amaya provides a Show Alternate option in the Views menu. If the page were spoken,
then the alternate view might simply be read out. Without useful alternative text for images, many pages become difficult or impossible to navigate, and users are left
'feeling their way in the dark'."

http://www.w3.org/Amaya/User/ImageMaps.html#Alternative
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Accepted Solution

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nettrom earned 500 total points
ID: 2557402
mgfranz is pointing in the right direction here.  what you want to do, to show a tool-tip, is not what ALT texts are for.  even though this is a feature of commonly used browsers it's still a feature that's against the meaning of the ALT attribute.  I found some comments (like http://www.deja.com/=dnc/getdoc.xp?AN=366316064 ) in comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html (yes, _the_ newsgroup about HTML) saying that the fact that IE & Netscape on Macs doesn't show the "tool tip" is one of the positive things. :)

instead you should probably use the TITLE attribute.  IE4.5 on Macs honor this attribute and shows you a "speech bubble" with the title text.  Netscape does not.  this is probably something you'll have to live with.  IE4/5 on Windows also honor the attribute, while Netscape doesn't.  therefore, it's again a broken solution if what you want is to get a tool-tip for everyone.

my authoritive resource on HTML is usually the W3C HTML4.01 spec, so here's links to relevant sections:

the title attribute: http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/struct/global.html#h-7.4.3
the alt attribute: http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/struct/objects.html#adef-alt
note on how to use alt texts: http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/struct/objects.html#h-13.8

a page written by Alan J Flavell about the usage of ALT text: http://ppewww.ph.gla.ac.uk/~flavell/alt/alt-text.html

I searched through Netscape's developer & support sites without finding any definitve mentioning of the bug.  since it's mentioned in the Deja post it seems it's a well-known bug though.  Microsoft's site mentioned nothing about it either (but they support TITLE though, so they shouldn't actually mention it).
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Expert Comment

by:mgfranz
ID: 2558748
Good point Morton, I too read Alan Flavell' pages on the use of 'alt', good info for a small world...  

eason, essentially what we are trying to tell you is that the use of 'alt text' in an image tag is there primarily for the use of text only browsers or for the visually impared.  It's use as a "tool tip" is over-used and un-necessary, IMHO.  :-)
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Author Comment

by:eason
ID: 2558758
Oh well.   If anyone has any thoughts on how to do the tooltip in another way (DHTML perhaps?) - please feel free to contact me - adamc@ltools.com.

Thanks.
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Expert Comment

by:mgfranz
ID: 2558900
Can you comment on why my comments were not accepted as an answer over Mortons?
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Author Comment

by:eason
ID: 2558916
My key concern was reference material - Morton provided links which I found to be more useful.     If you would care to help me find an alternate solution (I really need to be able to do this tool-tip thing) to alt text, Ill throw 600 points your way.
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Expert Comment

by:mgfranz
ID: 2558945
OK, I can accept that... sort of.  

As we have been trying to tell you all along, the use of the 'alt' tag is not supported by all browsers, including Mac browsers.  Try using 'title' instead.
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Expert Comment

by:nettrom
ID: 2558979
Mark, could you get in touch with me through e-mail?  warnckew@online.no
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