Text Manipulation

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To a certain extent, the restrictions of HTML had a positive effect because they encouraged innovation. Faced with constraints such as these forced website designers to think their way around problems and to develop solutions that drove the technology forward. For example, HotWired were “appalled to learn that if an image was a link to other content, it would automatically be enclosed by a 2-point-thick, bright blue border.” “Designers took this design ‘bug’ and made it a feature, creating our own chunky, offset border in bright blue around frontdoor graphics.”

Purists would argue that manipulating text into graphics in this way was detrimental to the web. It broke the fundamental rules that define exactly what a piece of text is and what an image is supposed to be. They have good cause to criticize this practice for several reasons: Firstly, images download more slowly than text – a major set back in the early days of the web when modems were very slow. Secondly, some people choose to turn off the graphics whilst they search; some browsers simply don’t display them. Having something as prominent as say the first half of a company name as a graphic may distort the meaning beyond acceptance. Thirdly, text in graphic format cannot be processed as text, meaning that a company heading for example cannot be read and logged by today’s search engines. “Content-based image retrieval is expanding and there seems little doubt that automatic image content retrieval will be seen as a desirable, if not essential facility in the next generation of multimedia systems.” (Eakins, 1998)

If graphics are used to substitute text, then extra care is needed to align the image so any text can wrap around it properly and anti-aliasing is chosen so that the text appears smooth, not jagged. One advantage is that the creator has absolute control over the size of the text if it is displayed as an image, conversely this can be perceived as a disadvantage, as the user’s control over text size is sacrificed.

Publication Date: Friday 6th June, 2003
Author: Ukwdc View profile

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