[Standards] LAST CALL: XEP-0393 (Message Styling)

Sam Whited sam at samwhited.com
Mon May 18 12:48:56 UTC 2020

On Mon, May 18, 2020, at 07:02, Marvin W wrote:
> The XEP does not allow to have a message that is rendered the same as
> the HTML "I am <b>bold</b>". This is because styling directives are
> done inline and are supposed to be displayed, thus to make a word
> bold, it is required to change the text as it is displayed.

The spec doesn't deny this, it's just a recommendation to display the
formatting characters. However, I take your point. What would you think
about changing that language to a MAY just to make sure the idea stays
in peoples heads but so that we have softer language? The point was
supposed to be that this is an implementation and client choice.

> > When displaying text with formatting, developers should take care to
> ensure sufficient contrast exists between styled and unstyled text so
> that users with vision deficiencies are able to distinguish between
> the two.
> Some clients reduce contrast of characters they believe to be meant
> as styling directive. The accessibility considerations don't mention
> this at all.

The above statement was supposed to cover that, I'll see if I can't
reword it to mention this case more explicitly. Thanks!

> Given that through the way styling directives work there are false
> positives, it's more important to properly display styling directives
> than to ensure contrast between different styles of text.

I'm not sure that it actually matters in practice, but I do agree, if
you're going to show formatting directives (and you should) they should
be readable like every other piece of text. I'll try to make sure the
text doesn't sound like it's suggesting otherwise.

> Also depending on the type of application and device, it may be
> impossible to ensure high contrast between styled and unstyled text. …
> Also this section ask to ensure high contrast between styled and
> unstyled. However good readability of *all* text should be preferred
> over high contrast.

I think you might have misunderstood this section. It's not suggesting
that styling directives should be high contrast compared to normal text,
just that it should be as readable as normal text (ie. not greyed out
and impossible to see against a white background, for instance). I'll
try to rephrase this to be less confusing.

> > it may be desirable to include directives to exclude styling from
> being read but to ensure that styling directives are read, i.e. "This
> is *bold*" thus should be read as "This is asterisk bold asterisk".

I agree that this needs to be changed, but I'm not sure that this will
work. We don't necessarily want to change the way a screen reader would
read some text which could make things harder to understand. I'll
experiment a bit and get some feedback from a friend who's visually
impaired and see if there's a better way to handle this.

> Nitpick: In §4 the term "styling directive" is introduced, which is
> used in §5. In §6 and §7 the term "formatting characters" is used
> which remains undefined. I believe it's meant to be the same, thus
> "formatting characters" should be changed to "styling directives" in
> §6 and §7.

Fixed for the next version. Thanks again, and in general thanks for all
your valuable feedback!


Sam Whited

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