Scalable Inman Flash Replacement

October 16, 2005

Category: Development
Author: ben van 't ende (netcreators)

Flash replacement

TYPO3 implementation of Scalable Inman Flash Replacement, a method to insert rich typography into web pages without sacrificing accessibility, search engine friendliness, or markup semantics.   In an email interview I recently had with Maximo Cuadros Ortiz, the author of the sIFR extension, he tells us a little bit about his work and motivation.

[crg] Tell a little bit about yourself and your company.
What country are you located?

I am located in Spain. Our company, Gobernalia Global Net, belongs to BBVA, one of the biggest banks of Spain.

[crg] What kind of customers do you have?

Our main customers are Local and Regional Administration. Gobernalia is working and promoting OpenSource Software since 2001 and all of our projects are done using only OpenSource Software. Usually our projects involves WebSites for Town Halls (City Halls, Councils) to improve the e-administration and communication with their citizens.

[crg] Why you did you make this extension? Was it for a project or just because you wanted to do it?

It is a requirement for a project. Now we are working in the new WebSite of Prado Museum (one of the best and major art galleries in the world) in TYPO3.

Our client has his own font and they want to use it in the headers of the pages (titles of each section of the page) and in the menus. The only way to do it now in TYPO3 to enable this feature was using GIFBUILDER of TYPO3. The problem of this method is the users of mobile devices, browsers configured for incapable users, etc needs an alternate version of the page, moreover we have to take care about the CPU load and the size (in kb) of the images. With siFR texts are there with a similar style as they has when it is show in flash. If the browser has the Macromedia Flash plugin texts are replaced by their homologous in flash with our client font. Briefing, with siFR we save resources and improve the accessibility.

[crg] 2. What does it do to enhance the user-experience?

From the point of view of the user, "flash texts" are as accessible as "plain text" and the load of the page is almost immediate and if the user does not have the flash plugin the original text will appear in the same place with a similar font and size.

[crg] 3. What does accessibility mean in your company?

All our webs must complaint at last WAI A or WAI AA because a law in Spain that say that all the administration web sites must be accesibles.

[crg] 4. What are your experiences in getting TYPO3 to output accessible code?

We made about 100 Web Portals for the Administration so we have a very high experience.

Generally there are no problems, except for some points (hereinafter i told you) that make this work a little more difficult, although all of them can be solved by typoScript and the great flexibility of TYPO3.

Points to consider:
1. For get the page in XHTML and CSS based, all the typoscript, by default is plenty of clear.gif and non-standard XHTML tags, and some times its hard to find this lines of code.

2.- To make a web capable for incapable users we need to implement accesskeys in the menus and links, and this is very annoying now. It should be implemented in the core and not need customize.

3.- WAI rules say that images must has an "alt" tag. This must be implemented in the core and not require customize.

4.- All he developers (me included) have to develop the extensions keeping in mind the standards and accessibility to facilitate the work of the users.

For us TYPO3 is a great and very flexible that allow us create site that fulfill standards and accessibility rules, but could be almost perfect if non experimented users can build accessible sites in a better way.

Finally i want to thank, specially to Ben Van't Ende and to the TYPO3 Content Rendering Group, for the huge effort of making TYPO3 a tool that fulfill everybody needs.

Best regards.

Maximo Cuadros Ortiz

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