Live blogging the first morning session . . .
This is a full day workshop about educating web professionals. People involved in the presentation include Chris Mills, Stephanie Troeth, Aarron Walter, and Bill Cullifer. Others involved include Dave Shea, Derek Featherstone, Jeffrey Brown, Glenda Sims and Leslie Jensen-Inman.
Chris Mills from Opera explained that we are all here because we care about training web professionals. He’s the standards evangelist at Opera and was instrumental in developing the Opera Curriculum.
The speakers introduced themselves and then there was time spent finding out about the people attending and why they are here.
Steph talked about the fact that although it’s easy to implement a web page, it’s difficult to do it well. Aarron mentioned that education needs help keeping up. Industry needs to reach out. Adequate and appropriate materials were also mentioned.
Available right now is the Opera Curriculum. Coming soon is WaSP Interact. This will be public March 16 and will be the WaSP Curriculum Framework. These two projects dovetail in that the courses are based on competencies, with related assignments and evaluation rubrics for each assignment.
They handed out a pamphlet full of example assignments from the WaSP Interact curriculum. There was a markup assignment, a presentation assignment, a scripting assignment and an accessibility assignment. Each assignment contained a description of the assignment requirements for the student’s use, and sample answers. There were other assignment ideas for related work, plus a list of books and articles to assign related to the assignment.
Mike Smith on Markup
Mike Smith talked about markup. Semantic markup is markup that encodes meaning into content. Semantic markup transforms a document into an information source. The information becomes usable in unanticipated ways when the structure is reusable. In addition, semantic markup is portable in the sense that it isn’t specific to a particular device but works across a range of devices and contexts. Accessible markup does not exclude users of any particular class. The same techniques that make markup semantic also make it accessible. He talked about using class names and id values well so that markup is maintainable.
There are two syntaxes for storing documents: text/html or XML syntax (XHTML). Don’t serve machine-generated XHTML with a text/html MIME type because it may not work in every situation. And, don’t use self-closing tags served as text/html. HTML doesn’t enforce much structure on documents. Therefore, authors need to build structure in consistent ways, e.g., make good use of heading elements and div elements. Use other structural elements such as microformats and RDFa. Do it earlier rather than later. Some examples of adding semantic meaning that might be useful include adding title attributes to <a> elements to help people decide whether or not to click on a link.
Smith talked about the controvery over the use of the alt attribute with the img element. He mentioned that an image can be used for different purposes, and the alt text should be appropriate for the purpose the image serves in a particular context. Good alt text writing is a major needed skill. He’s on the side of the argument that says alt text does not need to be a required part of the schema but that WCAG should list alt text as a requirement. Interesting way to approach the idea and one I need to ask him more about later.
Smith talked about definition lists. He said they are for associating ideas and don’t necessarily have to be lists, as such.
In HTML 5 <em> will be emphatic stress and <strong> will be strong importance, if the current draft becomes a reality. He also mentioned that in HTML 5 <i> and <b> may be given some sort of semantic meaning as opposed to the strictly presentational use they now have. This is not a done deal yet either. He said the HTML 4 spec that said to use <cite> for names of people is wrong and <cite> should not be used to markup names of people.
He said SVG is going to be massively important in the future.