Today, I would like to proposea new HTML attribute to go further in this direction.
A lot of images on the web are purely decorative, we all know that. These images, in particular those from image banks, are often dispensable, but consume bandwidth and contribute little to the user experience in the end, when they do not harm it.
What if we gave to developers a way to specify when a resource is dispensable without “breaking” the site?
Depending on the user configuration of the browser (and why not, ultimately, the quality of the available network), these images may or may not be downloaded from the server. We would then obtain a drastic reduction in the environmental impact of our online browsing while accelerating it.
This job could be done with a “facultative”
OR “optional” attribute.
Of course, this idea could apply to different types of resources.
Although not sure of the proposed implementation, I can see having the ability to mark an image as optional in news articles being useful for something like Firefox’s Mobile Reader View. I believe it currently removes all images in an article when some of them are critical to the article’s content and should still be shown.
Even though English is my native language, I was unfamiliar with that use of “facultative,” and the spell checker in the browser I’m using does not recognize it.
We already identify decorative images with an empty alt attribute.
As a user of web sites, I may have opinions about the importance of particular images. But my opinions may be different than those of the site author. Do we envision designers marking most of their own work as optional?
I think it could but might be problematic outside of something like a “reader mode.” I don’t know how comfortable implementors would be with applying this same logic when users explicitly opt to save data or if they encounter a flakey network and want to intervene on the user’s behalf.
Would it not be the correct thing to do? Images with empty alt text are invisible to screen reader users. That’s already one group of people that is excluded from these images.
When people choose to preserve data, the browser should respect that preference and prevent loading of non-essential resources. If images with empty alt text don’t fall into that category, than we’re not treating screen reader users fairly.
Sorry, I should have been clearer. I think it would be the right thing to do, I’m just not sure if we could convince enough implementors to go for it. I’d love to be wrong though and I’m happy to help push for it, it makes total sense to me.
What I wanted to say is that this image does not add any value to the content it introduces.
(I edited my post)
It makes sense to me too (that’s obviously why I’m here).
The climate is changing, the use of digital technology is exploding, and the Internet is a major pollutant. A community is growing around eco-friendly website design. Soon, this way could become the norm. I really believe that now we can help developers build a faster, cleaner web with this kind of initiative.
We must also admit the possibility that the image does add value but
the publisher omitted the alt attribute.
Sadly, this may be the majority of images on the Web today.
Wider adoption of technologies such as server-side parse-event streams
(e.g. EXI) could save power and bandwidth with less breakage.
Similarly, content negotiation for image pixel size with corresponding
cacheing moduiles for popular http servers might reduce bandwidth more
than dropping some elements.
Final note - there’s no alt attribute possible for CSS background
images, although these are often part of the main content. That would
also be worth fixing as saying, don’t use background images when they
are important, isn’t working.
I’m ok with that, but there is no problem with the alt attribute, there is a problem with people not using it. Should we be making decisions about what people do or what people should do? I guess the latter is the best way to enforce standards
This is great, but the purpose of this attribute is a little different.
It’s not about negotiating content, it’s about using the right content, flagged as such.