This is a set of principles and guidelines for the Publication of Documents on the Web.
This may not seem a very interesting or important subject, but a little consideration of these
pages may help you to understand why it has been published.
Everything else hangs on there being a purpose
for the document being on the web. If there's no purpose, it doesn't matter
at all about any of the other things. The principles must be seen from the
viewpoint of the purpose.
If you don't know the purpose, you must work out what your purpose
is first. If you have been asked to put something on the web,
the person who asked you must know what the purpose is.
Note: putting something on the web with no purpose may annoy people
who imagine that you must have a purpose. If your purpose is to annoy people,
not obeying these principles will help achieve your purpose.
Usable means usable for the purpose. Some examples:
- Suppose the document is to be modified as part of some collaboration:
- The collaborators must be able to modify it
- It must be possible to move the collaborated document on to the next stage
- The document may be:
- an end to itself
- something for some other purpose,
which must also be known
- If the document is only to be read:
- it must be in a format that can be read by all intended readers
- it should not be possible for a reader to change it
Accessible means accessible by the recipients.
Not only must the recipients be able to open the document,
the recipient must be able extract the content. Most generally,
on the web, that means read, hear or see it.
- To read may mean to see the text on screen or in a print out,
or to have the content read out loud.
- To hear the content may be to have it played as audio or
along side video.
- To see is appropriate for images and video.
We don't need to say much more about this, as there is a large body of available work,
particularly the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
These define what is accessible (in web terms).
All practical purposes should be accessible
to level AAA.
Note particularly that things that can only be viewed are required to have
alternatives that can be heard, and the users may need assistive technologies
How traceable a web document must be really does depend
upon its purpose. Some examples:
- A unattributed comment on blog entry, or an edit on Wikipedia, need only
be traceable within the requirements of the service provider - no one can
rely upon it
- A publication by an organisation of anything should be attributed (possibly
just to the organisation, but perhaps to the author) - it should be possible
for the organisation and/or the author to show it is theirs, even if it may be freely used
- If some rights are asserted (including copy left), those rights
should be supported by evidence of what was published and when
- If recipients are required to be able to rely upon it, they should be
able to refer to it, and possibly take a copy that shows that they were entitled
to rely upon that copy
And it goes on into non-repudiation and great legal complexity...
I am not a lawyer: consult a real lawyer if it matters for
Documents on the Web and in Email
by P G B Whitham
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
I hope you find this useful, and I have made it available under the Creative Commons licence
so that you may use it and refer to it.
The origins of these pages are in a number of discussions, presentations,
and other activities that lead me to realise that this information needed to be available
publicly, if it was to be of any use.
I have, obviously, got strong views on the subjects (or I would never have bothered).
I expect that my readers may also have strong views, and I want to hear about them.
You can reach me at pgbw AT cix.co.uk,
and I will attempt to respond to all comments within a reasonable length of time.