UK Web Focus

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Archive for June 16th, 2011

Don’t Just Embed Objects; Add Links To Source Too!

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 16 June 2011

I’m a great fan of the JISC’s Access Management blog. Nicole Harris is the main contributor to the blog and Nicole’s interests in issues related to access management (a topic many may find rather dry and boring) help to engage readers beyond techies who may have interests in the intracies of Shibboleth and related access management technologies.

When I updated my RSS Reader this morning and opened my JISC folder I noticed that there were several unread posts which had been published a few weeks ago. I looked at the post on “Early Findings for Shibboleth Futures” which told me that Nicole’s “slides are available below, and might be of interest!“. In my RSS reader, however, there was just a blank space.  Not a problem, I thought, I can view it in the Safari browser.  But, as can be seen in the accompanying image, nothing was displayed in the Web browser either.

The problem is that the embedded slideshow was hosted on Slideshare and the embedding technology uses Flash which is not support on my iPod Touch or other Apple devices such as iPhones or iPads.  Some may respond “You should use an Android device” to which my response could be that I do own an Android phone but prefer the usability of my iPod Touch.  But rather than getting drawn into such platform wars there is a very simple solution to embedding Slideshare resources in blog posts whilst allowing the slides still to be viewed by users of Apple’s mobile devices.

A post published on this blog recently on Metrics for Understanding Personal and Institutional Use of the Social Web also contained an embedded Slideshare presentation. As can be seen when viewing the blog post on an iPod Touch a blank screen was displayed where the embedded Flash object would be displayed on a typical desktop PC.  However the post contained a link to the resource hosted on Slideshare. Clicking on the link took me to a mobile-friendly version of the resource which made use of HTML5 so that the slides could be viewed on device which don’t support Flash, as illustrated below.

My advice to people who wish to embed objects (which might include other types of images and videos and not just Slideshare resources) is:

  • Include a direct link to the host which is provided in the HTML of your page.
  • Use linking phrases of the form “The slides for the talk are available slides for the talk are available on Slideshare ” rather than “The slides for the talk are available on Slideshare” since the latter more clearly links directly to the resource rather than the Slideshare home page which is implied on the latter example.
  • Avoid links such as “Click here to view the slides” as this is bad practice from an accessibility perspective.
And if you are interested in the contents of the slides Nicole Harris used at the recent TNC2011 meeting in which she spoke about the creation of the Shibboleth Consortium and presented some early findings from the Shibboleth Futures Survey her slides are available on Slideshare and are embedded below :-)

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