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Fall Back Content: What Does It Mean?

Issue: Could someone please point out or define what the HTML WG means by use of the term "Fall back content"? (issue raised by Joshue O Conner)

Definitions and Clarifications of the Term: Fall Back Content

Definition of "Fallback Content" in HTML5 Editor's Draft

Embedded content elements can have fallback content: content that is to be used when the external resource cannot be used (e.g. because it is of an unsupported format). The element definitions state what the fallback is, if any.

Source: HTML5 Editor's Draft, Section (28 June 2007)

Discussion and Perceptions

Joshue O Connor

Do we mean?:

<nice shiny future element 
fall back="insert fallback content as it
doesn't work in older browsers">
Stuff for nice shiny future browsers
<nice shiny future element />


<partially supported element>
insert fallback content as it doesn't work in IE
<fallback />
stuff for new browser
<partially supported element />

<stuff for visual users non-visual="stuff for assistive
technology">Stuff for visual users<stuff for visual users />

or similar?

Basically does the term (in WG usage) refer content for elements that are not supported by the UA (in this case the browser) or is it content for people with disabilities using assistive technology?

If it is the later I think we need to visit the definition drawing board.

(Source: Joshue O Connor, post to public-html requesting definition/consensus on term "Fall Back Content")

Anne Van Kesteren

It depends.

<video src=newsclip>fallback</video>

is probably mostly for older browsers as you'd hope the video itself is accessible, but in case of


it is for both I think.

(source: Anne Van Kestern's reply to Joshue on public-html, 2 July 2007)

Gregory J. Rosmaita

i think we should think in terms of equivalent content and repair content:

  • equivalent content provides an alternative to a uni-modal object which may not be supported by the user's current working environment, such as using a locked-down system at a public access point or corporate or educational intranet, using a text-only browser, turning off image-loading to speed download of documents, etc.
  • repair content, then, is the choice of content available to the user to provide a means of ensuring that the equivalent content is exposed in a manner appropriate to the requesting UA's configuration and capabilities, as well as subject to user preferences and actions.

The difference i perceive is that equivalent content is what it's name implies; repair content is, then, the most appropriate form of equivalent content for the requesting UA.

(source: Gregory J. Rosmaita, post to public-html, 2 July 2007)

Email: Define Fall Back

Email: Fall Back Discussion

Fall Back Documents

Draft Fallbacks for embedded content

Related References