A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

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A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Håkon Wium Lie
I've spent the last few days analyzing Wikipedia's HTML code for
images and captions. The current code is quite good, but verbose and
it has redundancies. Here is a proposal that describes how to simplify
and improve the code:

  http://www.princexml.com/howcome/2009/wikipedia/image/

The proposed solution reduces the number of elements from 10 to 6 and
the code size is reduced by more than 50%.

Cheers,

-h&kon
              Håkon Wium Lie                          CTO °þe®ª
[hidden email]                  http://people.opera.com/howcome

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Tei-2
On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 12:44 PM, Håkon Wium Lie <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> I've spent the last few days analyzing Wikipedia's HTML code for
> images and captions. The current code is quite good, but verbose and
> it has redundancies. Here is a proposal that describes how to simplify
> and improve the code:
>
>  http://www.princexml.com/howcome/2009/wikipedia/image/
>
> The proposed solution reduces the number of elements from 10 to 6 and
> the code size is reduced by more than 50%.

neato!,
this article could have been better with <s>some</s> more study of
compatibility with old browsers.

also, nice image :-)


postdata:
img[alt=enlarge]
enlarge is english, I wonder if must/is different on other mediasites
in spanish seems "Aumentar"
http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupa

--
--
ℱin del ℳensaje.

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Bugzilla from en.ABCD@gmail.com
In reply to this post by Håkon Wium Lie
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Håkon Wium Lie wrote:
> I've spent the last few days analyzing Wikipedia's HTML code for
> images and captions. The current code is quite good, but verbose and
> it has redundancies. Here is a proposal that describes how to simplify
> and improve the code:
>
>   http://www.princexml.com/howcome/2009/wikipedia/image/
>
> The proposed solution reduces the number of elements from 10 to 6 and
> the code size is reduced by more than 50%.

Some quick criticisms:
> The width of the element is set on a class ("w180") instead of using a
> style attribute. Wikipedia offers thumbnail images in six different
> sizes (120px, 150px, 180px, 200px, 250px, 300px) and this number is
> low enough to use classes. The main benefit of using classes is that
> alternative style sheets can change the presentation, e.g., for
> printing purposes. The style attribute, on the other hand, can never
> be overridden.

Actually, you can set the width to any value you wish in the input
document, which would cause problems with your suggestion.
([[File:Example.png|123px|thumb|Some text.]] will always display at
123px wide, no matter what preferences are used).

Also, as someone else already mentioned, the string "Enlarge" can be
changed by local admins (at [[MediaWiki:Thumbnail-more]]), and is
language dependent - users can change their interface language at any
time, either via Special:Preferences, or by appending ?uselang=foo or
&uselang=foo to the URL.

Otherwise, this seems to be well presented.
- --
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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Roan Kattouw-2
In reply to this post by Håkon Wium Lie
2009/4/3 Håkon Wium Lie <[hidden email]>:

> I've spent the last few days analyzing Wikipedia's HTML code for
> images and captions. The current code is quite good, but verbose and
> it has redundancies. Here is a proposal that describes how to simplify
> and improve the code:
>
>  http://www.princexml.com/howcome/2009/wikipedia/image/
>
> The proposed solution reduces the number of elements from 10 to 6 and
> the code size is reduced by more than 50%.
>
Another point of criticism: the article seems to study thumbnails
(images generated with [[Image:Foo.jpg|thumb]]) exclusively. Images
without the thumb attribute are rendered differently (no caption, no
wrapper div, no magnifier icon), so you might wanna take a look at
those as well.

Roan Kattouw (Catrope)

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Håkon Wium Lie
Also sprach Roan Kattouw:

 > > http://www.princexml.com/howcome/2009/wikipedia/image/

 > Another point of criticism: the article seems to study thumbnails
 > (images generated with [[Image:Foo.jpg|thumb]]) exclusively. Images
 > without the thumb attribute are rendered differently (no caption, no
 > wrapper div, no magnifier icon), so you might wanna take a look at
 > those as well.

Yes. It seems that thumbnails are used more than other images so I
started there. (Is there a way to count?)

Here's a list of the things I'd like to study:

 - non-thumb images and other figures
 - multi-column text
 - the style sheets

All in the context of Wikipedia, naturally.

My hypothesis is that the current HTML code can be simplified and
improved by relying more CSS. The benefits are reduced code size
(what's the bandwidth of Wikipedia?) and easier reuse of the content.

Cheers,

-h&kon
              Håkon Wium Lie                          CTO °þe®ª
[hidden email]                  http://people.opera.com/howcome

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Chad
On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 8:45 AM, Håkon Wium Lie <[hidden email]> wrote:
> My hypothesis is that the current HTML code can be simplified and
> improved by relying more CSS. The benefits are reduced code size
> (what's the bandwidth of Wikipedia?) and easier reuse of the content.

/me waits for the obligatory "omg think of the text browsers" comments

-Chad

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Håkon Wium Lie
Also sprach Chad:

 > > My hypothesis is that the current HTML code can be simplified and
 > > improved by relying more CSS. The benefits are reduced code size
 > > (what's the bandwidth of Wikipedia?) and easier reuse of the content.
 >
 > /me waits for the obligatory "omg think of the text browsers" comments

It's a good question. Text browsers will generally do better with
simplified markup. For example, lynx works much better with the
dt/dd-based markup proposed here:

  http://www.princexml.com/howcome/2009/wikipedia/infobox/

than the current nested-table approach.

So, when I say "rely more on CSS", I mean rely more on CSS for
*styling* and leave the semantics to HTML.

Cheers,

-h&kon
              Håkon Wium Lie                          CTO °þe®ª
[hidden email]                  http://people.opera.com/howcome

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by Chad
2009/4/3 Chad <[hidden email]>:
> On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 8:45 AM, Håkon Wium Lie <[hidden email]> wrote:

>> My hypothesis is that the current HTML code can be simplified and
>> improved by relying more CSS. The benefits are reduced code size
>> (what's the bandwidth of Wikipedia?) and easier reuse of the content.

> /me waits for the obligatory "omg think of the text browsers" comments


And the speech browsers. Thankfully, if something looks good in Lynx
it'll generally work spoken.

(/me awaits barrage of counterexamples)

CSS is *good* for text browsers. Certainly better than what Lynx does
with tables.


- d.

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Stephen Bain
On Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 12:26 AM, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:
> 2009/4/3 Chad <[hidden email]>:
>
>> /me waits for the obligatory "omg think of the text browsers" comments
>
> And the speech browsers.

Indeed. That's always going to be a small portion of the user base but
it's very important that things work for such browsers.

From the point of view of such users removing the alt attributes on
images is a bad idea.

--
Stephen Bain
[hidden email]

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Håkon Wium Lie
In reply to this post by Tei-2
Also sprach Tei:

 > > I've spent the last few days analyzing Wikipedia's HTML code for
 > > images and captions. The current code is quite good, but verbose and
 > > it has redundancies. Here is a proposal that describes how to simplify
 > > and improve the code:
 > >
 > >  http://www.princexml.com/howcome/2009/wikipedia/image/
 > >
 > > The proposed solution reduces the number of elements from 10 to 6 and
 > > the code size is reduced by more than 50%.
 >
 > neato!,
 > this article could have been better with <s>some</s> more study of
 > compatibility with old browsers.

I've tested in IE6, IE7, IE8, Opera 9, FF2, FF3.

The problems I have found are noted in the paper:

 - IE6 doesn't support attribute selectors, but the problems i minor
 - only Opera suport the 'content' propoerty as per CSS3, so it's not
   quite ready for use

Cheers,

-h&kon
              Håkon Wium Lie                          CTO °þe®ª
[hidden email]                  http://people.opera.com/howcome

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by Stephen Bain
2009/4/3 Stephen Bain <[hidden email]>:
> On Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 12:26 AM, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:

>> And the speech browsers.

> Indeed. That's always going to be a small portion of the user base but
> it's very important that things work for such browsers.
> From the point of view of such users removing the alt attributes on
> images is a bad idea.


Only from images without captions - the alt text and title text are
presently the caption. So you could presently hear it three times.


- d.

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Håkon Wium Lie
In reply to this post by Bugzilla from en.ABCD@gmail.com
Also sprach ABCD:

 > > The width of the element is set on a class ("w180") instead of using a
 > > style attribute. Wikipedia offers thumbnail images in six different
 > > sizes (120px, 150px, 180px, 200px, 250px, 300px) and this number is
 > > low enough to use classes. The main benefit of using classes is that
 > > alternative style sheets can change the presentation, e.g., for
 > > printing purposes. The style attribute, on the other hand, can never
 > > be overridden.
 >
 > Actually, you can set the width to any value you wish in the input
 > document, which would cause problems with your suggestion.
 > ([[File:Example.png|123px|thumb|Some text.]] will always display at
 > 123px wide, no matter what preferences are used).

Right. In this case, using a style attribute would probably be the
only viable solution. But this is rare, no? If we can eliminate 99% of
style attributes, I'm happy. Is there any way to count those that
specify exact widths?

 > Also, as someone else already mentioned, the string "Enlarge" can be
 > changed by local admins (at [[MediaWiki:Thumbnail-more]]), and is
 > language dependent - users can change their interface language at any
 > time, either via Special:Preferences, or by appending ?uselang=foo or
 > &uselang=foo to the URL.

This is a good point. Having a class attribute may be better than
trying to keep a list of language-specific selectors up to date.

However, I'm proposing to drop the magnifier icon altogether.

 > Otherwise, this seems to be well presented.

Thanks,

-h&kon
              Håkon Wium Lie                          CTO °þe®ª
[hidden email]                  http://people.opera.com/howcome

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Håkon Wium Lie
In reply to this post by Stephen Bain
Also sprach Stephen Bain:

 > > And the speech browsers.
 >
 > Indeed. That's always going to be a small portion of the user base but
 > it's very important that things work for such browsers.

Agreed.

 > From the point of view of such users removing the alt attributes on
 > images is a bad idea.

Note that Wikipedia's current markup for thumnnail images only use one
alt attribute and it's empty:

  <div class="thumb tleft">
    <div class="thumbinner" style="width:182px;">
      <a href="/wiki/File:Bryggen_(6-2007).jpg" class="image"
          title="Bryggen in Bergen is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.">
        <img alt="" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/

The only reason for keeping it is to claim validity wrt. some DTDs.
Personally, I'd rather remove it.

Cheers,

-h&kon
              Håkon Wium Lie                          CTO °þe®ª
[hidden email]                  http://people.opera.com/howcome

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Jim-60
In reply to this post by Håkon Wium Lie
On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 10:31 AM, Håkon Wium Lie <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Also sprach ABCD:
>
>  > > The width of the element is set on a class ("w180") instead of using a
>  > > style attribute. Wikipedia offers thumbnail images in six different
>  > > sizes (120px, 150px, 180px, 200px, 250px, 300px) and this number is
>  > > low enough to use classes. The main benefit of using classes is that
>  > > alternative style sheets can change the presentation, e.g., for
>  > > printing purposes. The style attribute, on the other hand, can never
>  > > be overridden.
>  >
>  > Actually, you can set the width to any value you wish in the input
>  > document, which would cause problems with your suggestion.
>  > ([[File:Example.png|123px|thumb|Some text.]] will always display at
>  > 123px wide, no matter what preferences are used).
>
> Right. In this case, using a style attribute would probably be the
> only viable solution. But this is rare, no? If we can eliminate 99% of
> style attributes, I'm happy. Is there any way to count those that
> specify exact widths?


Actually this is not only rare but discouraged. Widths should only be
specificed in unusual cases (such as very wide or very tall images). Using
classes for the standard thumb widths is an excellent suggestion and then
the use of styles for unusual situations would be the exception it should
be. In other words we shouldn't base our decision to use a less flexible
formatting feature because of rare exceptions.
-Trodel
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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Aryeh Gregor
In reply to this post by Håkon Wium Lie
On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 6:44 AM, Håkon Wium Lie <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I've spent the last few days analyzing Wikipedia's HTML code for
> images and captions. The current code is quite good, but verbose and
> it has redundancies. Here is a proposal that describes how to simplify
> and improve the code:
>
>  http://www.princexml.com/howcome/2009/wikipedia/image/
>
> The proposed solution reduces the number of elements from 10 to 6 and
> the code size is reduced by more than 50%.

As others have noted, the thumbnails can actually be any size, so we
really do need to use style="" for that (or at least height/width on
the <img>).  I guess we could use a class for the relatively common
case, but I don't see the gain, honestly.

I noticed you removed the " /" closing the <img> tags -- we use XHTML
1.0 for the moment, so we have to keep that (four more bytes!  :) ).
For the same reason, we need to keep alt="" -- it's stupid, since
really the semantics we want is "we have no idea what the alt text
should be since the users didn't specify it" rather than "this
deserves no alt text", but we don't have any way to express the former
in XHTML 1.0.  We currently do have the goal of maintaining XHTML 1.0
conformance where possible, stupid though it may be at times.

I'm not sure about the "enlarge" icon.  It might not be intuitive that
clicking on the image expands it.  The icon itself might not be so
great either, though.  Personally, I won't remove that for now.

I agree that the title attribute is pointless if there's a caption --
removing that would be good.  (If I can figure out how.  The code for
this is *awful*.  So not this second.)  I removed the border="0" in
r49154.

The rest (i.e., the bulk of the proposal) is more complicated and will
require more care to implement, which I can't give at this exact
second.

On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 10:22 AM, Stephen Bain <[hidden email]> wrote:
> From the point of view of such users removing the alt attributes on
> images is a bad idea.

If an empty alt attribute and a nonexistent one are handled
differently by anything, I'd guess a nonexistent one would be handled
better, not worse, for our semantics.  But XHTML requires the
attribute, in any event.

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

David Gerard-2
2009/4/3 Aryeh Gregor <[hidden email]>:

> I'm not sure about the "enlarge" icon.  It might not be intuitive that
> clicking on the image expands it.  The icon itself might not be so
> great either, though.  Personally, I won't remove that for now.


There's a proposal (which I'm supposed to be pushing forward) to use a
more obvious magnifier, e.g. a small magnifying glass with a circle-i
next to it. (One icon that looks like two, since it has two functions.
There was enough bikeshedding over the proposal that the next stage is
a proper UI test.)


- d.

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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Bugzilla from en.ABCD@gmail.com
In reply to this post by Håkon Wium Lie
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Håkon Wium Lie wrote:
> Note that Wikipedia's current markup for thumnnail images only use one
> alt attribute and it's empty:
>
[snip]
> The only reason for keeping it is to claim validity wrt. some DTDs.
> Personally, I'd rather remove it.

Having an empty alt= attribute also causes the image to be completely
invisible in (some?) text browsers, notably Lynx.  If there is no alt=
attribute, then it appears as [Image], which I do not believe is desired.

- --
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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Bugzilla from en.ABCD@gmail.com
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
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ABCD wrote:

> Håkon Wium Lie wrote:
>> Note that Wikipedia's current markup for thumnnail images only use one
>> alt attribute and it's empty:
>
> [snip]
>> The only reason for keeping it is to claim validity wrt. some DTDs.
>> Personally, I'd rather remove it.
>
> Having an empty alt= attribute also causes the image to be completely
> invisible in (some?) text browsers, notably Lynx.  If there is no alt=
> attribute, then it appears as [Image], which I do not believe is desired.
>
Ignore that, I misread....

- --
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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Håkon Wium Lie
In reply to this post by Aryeh Gregor
Also sprach Aryeh Gregor:

 > > http://www.princexml.com/howcome/2009/wikipedia/image/
 > >
 > > The proposed solution reduces the number of elements from 10 to 6 and
 > > the code size is reduced by more than 50%.
 >
 > As others have noted, the thumbnails can actually be any size, so we
 > really do need to use style="" for that (or at least height/width on
 > the <img>).  I guess we could use a class for the relatively common
 > case, but I don't see the gain, honestly.

The gain is that the code is easier to reuse. When style is set
through a class name, it can be overridden by another style sheet. For
example, when creating these samples:

  http://www.princexml.com/samples/#wiki

I wrote a style sheet that used the class names and attached new
styles to them. Given a class name like "w180" I could write a new
rule, e.g.:

   .w180 { width: 90px }

Style *attributes* -- on the other hand -- are much harder to deal
with. They always win in competition with other conflicting rules.
Many of them are screen-centric so one is forced to ignore them for
other media. When the style attribute is ignored, there is no hook to
attach style to.

It seems to me that setting the exact width is a rare exception,
and one that shouldn't stand in the way of reusing content.

Setting the height/width on the image is, unfortunately, not ennough
-- the width of the container box must also be constrained. Otherwise,
it will be widened by the caption.

 > I noticed you removed the " /" closing the <img> tags -- we use XHTML
 > 1.0 for the moment, so we have to keep that (four more bytes!  :) ).
 > For the same reason, we need to keep alt="" -- it's stupid, since
 > really the semantics we want is "we have no idea what the alt text
 > should be since the users didn't specify it" rather than "this
 > deserves no alt text", but we don't have any way to express the former
 > in XHTML 1.0.  We currently do have the goal of maintaining XHTML 1.0
 > conformance where possible, stupid though it may be at times.

Understood.

Cheers,

-h&kon
              Håkon Wium Lie                          CTO °þe®ª
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Re: A proposal to simplify and improve image markup in Wikipedia

Aryeh Gregor
On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 5:19 PM, Håkon Wium Lie <[hidden email]> wrote:

> The gain is that the code is easier to reuse. When style is set
> through a class name, it can be overridden by another style sheet. For
> example, when creating these samples:
>
>  http://www.princexml.com/samples/#wiki
>
> I wrote a style sheet that used the class names and attached new
> styles to them. Given a class name like "w180" I could write a new
> rule, e.g.:
>
>   .w180 { width: 90px }
>
> Style *attributes* -- on the other hand -- are much harder to deal
> with. They always win in competition with other conflicting rules.

Except by using !important, which is of course the point of !important.

> Many of them are screen-centric so one is forced to ignore them for
> other media. When the style attribute is ignored, there is no hook to
> attach style to.
>
> It seems to me that setting the exact width is a rare exception,
> and one that shouldn't stand in the way of reusing content.

I don't know.  I guess so.  We could special-case the default
permitted widths as classes.

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