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13 Objects, Images, and Applets

Contents

  1. Introduction to objects, images, and applets
  2. Including an image: the IMG element
  3. Generic inclusion: the OBJECT element
    1. Rules for rendering objects
    2. Object initialization: the PARAM element
    3. Global naming schemes for objects
    4. Object declarations and instantiations
  4. Including an applet: the APPLET element
  5. Notes on embedded documents
  6. Image maps
    1. Client-side image maps: the MAP and AREA elements
    2. Server-side image maps
  7. Visual presentation of images, objects, and applets
    1. Width and height
    2. White space around images and objects
    3. Borders
    4. Alignment
  8. How to specify alternate text

13.1 Introduction to objects, images, and applets

HTML's multimedia features allow authors to include images, applets (programs that are automatically downloaded and run on the user's machine), video clips, and other HTML documents in their pages.

For example, to include a PNG image in a document, authors may write:

<BODY>
<P>Here's a closeup of the Grand Canyon:
<OBJECT data="canyon.png" type="image/png">
This is a <EM>closeup</EM> of the Grand Canyon.
</OBJECT>
</BODY>

Previous versions of HTML allowed authors to include images (via IMG) and applets (via APPLET). These elements have several limitations:

To address these issues, HTML 4 introduces the OBJECT element, which offers an all-purpose solution to generic object inclusion. The OBJECT element allows HTML authors to specify everything required by an object for its presentation by a user agent: source code, initial values, and run-time data. In this specification, the term "object" is used to describe the things that people want to place in HTML documents; other commonly used terms for these things are: applets, plug-ins, media handlers, etc.

The new OBJECT element thus subsumes some of the tasks carried out by existing elements. Consider the following chart of functionalities:

Type of inclusion Specific element Generic element
Image IMG OBJECT
Applet APPLET (Deprecated.) OBJECT
Another HTML document IFRAME OBJECT

The chart indicates that each type of inclusion has a specific and a general solution. The generic OBJECT element will serve as the solution for implementing future media types.

To include images, authors may use the OBJECT element or the IMG element.

To include applets, authors should use the OBJECT element as the APPLET element is deprecated.

To include one HTML document in another, authors may use either the new IFRAME element or the OBJECT element. In both cases, the embedded document remains independent of the main document. Visual user agents may present the embedded document in a distinct window within the main document. Please consult the notes on embedded documents for a comparison of OBJECT and IFRAME for document inclusion.

Images and other included objects may have hyperlinks associated with them, both through the standard linking mechanisms, but also via image maps. An image map specifies active geometric regions of an included object and assigns a link to each region. When activated, these links may cause a document to be retrieved, may run a program on the server, etc.

In the following sections, we discuss the various mechanisms available to authors for multimedia inclusions and creating image maps for those inclusions.

13.2 Including an image: the IMG element

<!-- To avoid problems with text-only UAs as well as 
   to make image content understandable and navigable 
   to users of non-visual UAs, you need to provide
   a description with ALT, and avoid server-side image maps -->
<!ELEMENT IMG - O EMPTY                -- Embedded image -->
<!ATTLIST IMG
  %attrs;                              -- %coreattrs, %i18n, %events --
  src         %URI;          #REQUIRED -- URI of image to embed --
  alt         %Text;         #REQUIRED -- short description --
  longdesc    %URI;          #IMPLIED  -- link to long description
                                          (complements alt) --
  name        CDATA          #IMPLIED  -- name of image for scripting --
  height      %Length;       #IMPLIED  -- override height --
  width       %Length;       #IMPLIED  -- override width --
  usemap      %URI;          #IMPLIED  -- use client-side image map --
  ismap       (ismap)        #IMPLIED  -- use server-side image map --
  >

Start tag: required, End tag: forbidden

Attribute definitions

src = uri [CT]
This attribute specifies the location of the image resource. Examples of widely recognized image formats include GIF, JPEG, and PNG.
longdesc = uri [CT]
This attribute specifies a link to a long description of the image. This description should supplement the short description provided using the alt attribute. When the image has an associated image map, this attribute should provide information about the image map's contents. This is particularly important for server-side image maps. Since an IMG element may be within the content of an A element, the user agent's mechanism in the user interface for accessing the "longdesc" resource of the former must be different than the mechanism for accessing the href resource of the latter.
name = cdata [CI]
This attribute names the element so that it may be referred to from style sheets or scripts. Note. This attribute has been included for backwards compatibility. Applications should use the id attribute to identify elements.

Attributes defined elsewhere

The IMG element embeds an image in the current document at the location of the element's definition. The IMG element has no content; it is usually replaced inline by the image designated by the src attribute, the exception being for left or right-aligned images that are "floated" out of line.

In an earlier example, we defined a link to a family photo. Here, we insert the photo directly into the current document:

<BODY>
<P>I just returned from vacation! Here's a photo of my family at the lake:
<IMG src="http://www.somecompany.com/People/Ian/vacation/family.png"
     alt="A photo of my family at the lake.">
</BODY>

This inclusion may also be achieved with the OBJECT element as follows:

<BODY>
<P>I just returned from vacation! Here's a photo of my family at the lake:
<OBJECT data="http://www.somecompany.com/People/Ian/vacation/family.png"
        type="image/png">
A photo of my family at the lake.
</OBJECT>
</BODY>

The alt attribute specifies alternate text that is rendered when the image cannot be displayed (see below for information on how to specify alternate text ). User agents must render alternate text when they cannot support images, they cannot support a certain image type or when they are configured not to display images.

The following example shows how the longdesc attribute can be used to link to a richer description:

<BODY>
<P>
<IMG src="sitemap.gif"
     alt="HP Labs Site Map"
     longdesc="sitemap.html">
</BODY>

The alt attribute provides a short description of the image. This should be sufficient to allow users to decide whether they want to follow the link given by the longdesc attribute to the longer description, here "sitemap.html".

Please consult the section on the visual presentation of objects, images, and applets for information about image size, alignment, and borders.

13.3 Generic inclusion: the OBJECT element

<!ELEMENT OBJECT - - (PARAM | %flow;)*
 -- generic embedded object -->
<!ATTLIST OBJECT
  %attrs;                              -- %coreattrs, %i18n, %events --
  declare     (declare)      #IMPLIED  -- declare but don't instantiate flag --
  classid     %URI;          #IMPLIED  -- identifies an implementation --
  codebase    %URI;          #IMPLIED  -- base URI for classid, data, archive--
  data        %URI;          #IMPLIED  -- reference to object's data --
  type        %ContentType;  #IMPLIED  -- content type for data --
  codetype    %ContentType;  #IMPLIED  -- content type for code --
  archive     CDATA          #IMPLIED  -- space-separated list of URIs --
  standby     %Text;         #IMPLIED  -- message to show while loading --
  height      %Length;       #IMPLIED  -- override height --
  width       %Length;       #IMPLIED  -- override width --
  usemap      %URI;          #IMPLIED  -- use client-side image map --
  name        CDATA          #IMPLIED  -- submit as part of form --
  tabindex    NUMBER         #IMPLIED  -- position in tabbing order --
  >

Start tag: required, End tag: required

Attribute definitions

classid = uri [CT]
This attribute may be used to specify the location of an object's implementation via a URI. It may be used together with, or as an alternative to the data attribute, depending on the type of object involved.
codebase = uri [CT]
This attribute specifies the base path used to resolve relative URIs specified by the classid, data, and archive attributes. When absent, its default value is the base URI of the current document.
codetype = content-type [CI]
This attribute specifies the content type of data expected when downloading the object specified by classid. This attribute is optional but recommended when classid is specified since it allows the user agent to avoid loading information for unsupported content types. When absent, it defaults to the value of the type attribute.
data = uri [CT]
This attribute may be used to specify the location of the object's data, for instance image data for objects defining images, or more generally, a serialized form of an object which can be used to recreate it. If given as a relative URI, it should be interpreted relative to the codebase attribute.
type = content-type [CI]
This attribute specifies the content type for the data specified by data. This attribute is optional but recommended when data is specified since it allows the user agent to avoid loading information for unsupported content types. If the value of this attribute differs from the HTTP Content-Type returned by the server when the object is retrieved, the HTTP Content-Type takes precedence.
archive = uri-list [CT]
This attribute may be used to specify a space-separated list of URIs for archives containing resources relevant to the object, which may include the resources specified by the classid and data attributes. Preloading archives will generally result in reduced load times for objects. Archives specified as relative URIs should be interpreted relative to the codebase attribute.
declare [CI]
When present, this boolean attribute makes the current OBJECT definition a declaration only. The object must be instantiated by a subsequent OBJECT definition referring to this declaration.
standby = text [CS]
This attribute specifies a message that a user agent may render while loading the object's implementation and data.

Attributes defined elsewhere

Most user agents have built-in mechanisms for rendering common data types such as text, GIF images, colors, fonts, and a handful of graphic elements. To render data types they don't support natively, user agents generally run external applications. The OBJECT element allows authors to control whether data should be rendered externally or by some program, specified by the author, that renders the data within the user agent.

In the most general case, an author may need to specify three types of information:

The OBJECT element allows authors to specify all three types of data, but authors may not have to specify all three at once. For example, some objects may not require data (e.g., a self-contained applet that performs a small animation). Others may not require run-time initialization. Still others may not require additional implementation information, i.e., the user agent itself may already know how to render that type of data (e.g., GIF images).

Authors specify an object's implementation and the location of the data to be rendered via the OBJECT element. To specify run-time values, however, authors use the PARAM element, which is discussed in the section on object initialization.

The OBJECT element may also appear in the content of the HEAD element. Since user agents generally do not render elements in the HEAD, authors should ensure that any OBJECT elements in the HEAD do not specify content that may be rendered. Please consult the section on sharing frame data for an example of including the OBJECT element in the HEAD element.

Please consult the section on form controls for information about OBJECT elements in forms.

This document does not specify the behavior of OBJECT elements that use both the classid attribute to identify an implementation and the data attribute to specify data for that implementation. In order to ensure portability, authors should use the PARAM element to tell implementations where to retrieve additional data.

13.3.1 Rules for rendering objects

A user agent must interpret an OBJECT element according to the following precedence rules:

  1. The user agent must first try to render the object. It should not render the element's contents, but it must examine them in case the element contains any direct children that are PARAM elements (see object initialization) or MAP elements (see client-side image maps).
  2. If the user agent is not able to render the object for whatever reason (configured not to, lack of resources, wrong architecture, etc.), it must try to render its contents.

Authors should not include content in OBJECT elements that appear in the HEAD element.

In the following example, we insert an analog clock applet in a document via the OBJECT element. The applet, written in the Python language, requires no additional data or run-time values. The classid attribute specifies the location of the applet:

    
<P><OBJECT classid="http://www.miamachina.it/analogclock.py">
</OBJECT>

Note that the clock will be rendered as soon as the user agent interprets this OBJECT declaration. It is possible to delay rendering of an object by first declaring the object (described below).

Authors should complete this declaration by including alternate text as the contents of OBJECT in case the user agent cannot render the clock.

    
<P><OBJECT classid="http://www.miamachina.it/analogclock.py">
An animated clock.
</OBJECT>

One significant consequence of the OBJECT element's design is that it offers a mechanism for specifying alternate object renderings; each embedded OBJECT declaration may specify alternate content types. If a user agent cannot render the outermost OBJECT, it tries to render the contents, which may be another OBJECT element, etc.

In the following example, we embed several OBJECT declarations to illustrate how alternate renderings work. A user agent will attempt to render the first OBJECT element it can, in the following order: (1) an Earth applet written in the Python language, (2) an MPEG animation of the Earth, (3) a GIF image of the Earth, (4) alternate text.

<P>                 <!-- First, try the Python applet -->
<OBJECT title="The Earth as seen from space" 
        classid="http://www.observer.mars/TheEarth.py">
                    <!-- Else, try the MPEG video -->
  <OBJECT data="TheEarth.mpeg" type="application/mpeg">
                    <!-- Else, try the GIF image -->
    <OBJECT data="TheEarth.gif" type="image/gif">
                    <!-- Else render the text -->
     The <STRONG>Earth</STRONG> as seen from space.
    </OBJECT>
  </OBJECT>
</OBJECT>

The outermost declaration specifies an applet that requires no data or initial values. The second declaration specifies an MPEG animation and, since it does not define the location of an implementation to handle MPEG, relies on the user agent to handle the animation. We also set the type attribute so that a user agent that knows it cannot render MPEG will not bother to retrieve "TheEarth.mpeg" from the network. The third declaration specifies the location of a GIF file and furnishes alternate text in case all other mechanisms fail.

Inline vs. external data. Data to be rendered may be supplied in two ways: inline and from an external resource. While the former method will generally lead to faster rendering, it is not convenient when rendering large quantities of data.

Here's an example that illustrates how inline data may be fed to an OBJECT:

<P>
<OBJECT id="clock1"
        classid="clsid:663C8FEF-1EF9-11CF-A3DB-080036F12502"
        data="data:application/x-oleobject;base64, ...base64 data...">
    A clock.
</OBJECT>

Please consult the section on the visual presentation of objects, images, and applets for information about object size, alignment, and borders.

13.3.2 Object initialization: the PARAM element

<!ELEMENT PARAM - O EMPTY              -- named property value -->
<!ATTLIST PARAM
  id          ID             #IMPLIED  -- document-wide unique id --
  name        CDATA          #REQUIRED -- property name --
  value       CDATA          #IMPLIED  -- property value --
  valuetype   (DATA|REF|OBJECT) DATA   -- How to interpret value --
  type        %ContentType;  #IMPLIED  -- content type for value
                                          when valuetype=ref --
  >

Start tag: required, End tag: forbidden

Attribute definitions

name = cdata
This attribute defines the name of a run-time parameter, assumed to be known by the inserted object. Whether the property name is case-sensitive depends on the specific object implementation.
value = cdata
This attribute specifies the value of a run-time parameter specified by name. Property values have no meaning to HTML; their meaning is determined by the object in question.
valuetype = data|ref|object [CI]
This attribute specifies the type of the value attribute. Possible values:
  • data: This is default value for the attribute. It means that the value specified by value will be evaluated and passed to the object's implementation as a string.
  • ref: The value specified by value is a URI that designates a resource where run-time values are stored. This allows support tools to identify URIs given as parameters. The URI must be passed to the object as is, i.e., unresolved.
  • object: The value specified by value is an identifier that refers to an OBJECT declaration in the same document. The identifier must be the value of the id attribute set for the declared OBJECT element.
type = content-type [CI]
This attribute specifies the content type of the resource designated by the value attribute only in the case where valuetype is set to "ref". This attribute thus specifies for the user agent, the type of values that will be found at the URI designated by value.

Attributes defined elsewhere

PARAM elements specify a set of values that may be required by an object at run-time. Any number of PARAM elements may appear in the content of an OBJECT or APPLET element, in any order, but must be placed at the start of the content of the enclosing OBJECT or APPLET element.

The syntax of names and values is assumed to be understood by the object's implementation. This document does not specify how user agents should retrieve name/value pairs nor how they should interpret parameter names that appear twice.

We return to the clock example to illustrate the use of PARAM: suppose that the applet is able to handle two run-time parameters that define its initial height and width. We can set the initial dimensions to 40x40 pixels with two PARAM elements.

    
<P><OBJECT classid="http://www.miamachina.it/analogclock.py">
<PARAM name="height" value="40" valuetype="data">
<PARAM name="width" value="40" valuetype="data">
This user agent cannot render Python applications.
</OBJECT>

In the following example, run-time data for the object's "Init_values" parameter is specified as an external resource (a GIF file). The value of the valuetype attribute is thus set to "ref" and the value is a URI designating the resource.

<P><OBJECT classid="http://www.gifstuff.com/gifappli"
       standby="Loading Elvis...">
<PARAM name="Init_values"
       value="./images/elvis.gif">
       valuetype="ref">
</OBJECT>

Note that we have also set the standby attribute so that the user agent may display a message while the rendering mechanism loads.

When an OBJECT element is rendered, user agents must search the content for only those PARAM elements that are direct children and "feed" them to the OBJECT.

Thus, in the following example, if "obj1" is rendered, "param1" applies to "obj1" (and not "obj2"). If "obj1" is not rendered and "obj2" is, "param1" is ignored, and "param2" applies to "obj2". If neither OBJECT is rendered, neither PARAM applies.

<P>
<OBJECT id="obj1">
   <PARAM name="param1">
   <OBJECT id="obj2">
      <PARAM name="param2">
   </OBJECT>
</OBJECT>

13.3.3 Global naming schemes for objects

The location of an object's implementation is given by a URI. As we discussed in the introduction to URIs, the first segment of an absolute URI specifies the naming scheme used to transfer the data designated by the URI. For HTML documents, this scheme is frequently "http". Some applets might employ other naming schemes. For instance, when specifying a Java applet, authors may use URIs that begin with "java" and for ActiveX applets, authors may use "clsid".

In the following example, we insert a Java applet into an HTML document.

<P><OBJECT classid="java:program.start">
</OBJECT>

By setting the codetype attribute, a user agent can decide whether to retrieve the Java application based on its ability to do so.

<OBJECT codetype="application/java-archive"
        classid="java:program.start">
</OBJECT>

Some rendering schemes require additional information to identify their implementation and must be told where to find that information. Authors may give path information to the object's implementation via the codebase attribute.

<OBJECT codetype="application/java-archive"
        classid="java:program.start">
        codebase="http://foooo.bar.com/java/myimplementation/"
</OBJECT>

The following example specifies (with the classid attribute) an ActiveX object via a URI that begins with the naming scheme "clsid". The data attribute locates the data to render (another clock).

<P><OBJECT classid="clsid:663C8FEF-1EF9-11CF-A3DB-080036F12502"
        data="http://www.acme.com/ole/clock.stm">
This application is not supported.
</OBJECT>

13.3.4 Object declarations and instantiations

The preceding examples have only illustrated isolated object definitions. When a document is to contain more than one instance of the same object, it is possible to separate the declaration of the object from its instantiations. Doing so has several advantages:

To declare an object so that it is not executed when read by the user agent, set the boolean declare attribute in the OBJECT element. At the same time, authors must identify the declaration by setting the id attribute in the OBJECT element to a unique value. Later instantiations of the object will refer to this identifier.

A declared OBJECT must appear in a document before the first instance of that OBJECT.

An object defined with the declare attribute is instantiated every time an element that refers to that object requires it to be rendered (e.g., a link that refers to it is activated, an object that refers to it is activated, etc.).

In the following example, we declare an OBJECT and cause it to be instantiated by referring to it from a link. Thus, the object can be activated by clicking on some highlighted text, for example.

<P><OBJECT declare
        id="earth.declaration" 
        data="TheEarth.mpeg" 
        type="application/mpeg">
   The <STRONG>Earth</STRONG> as seen from space.
</OBJECT>
...later in the document...
<P>A neat <A href="#earth.declaration"> animation of The Earth!</A>

The following example illustrates how to specify run-time values that are other objects. In this example, we send text (a poem, in fact) to a hypothetical mechanism for viewing poems. The object recognizes a run-time parameter named "font" (say, for rendering the poem text in a certain font). The value for this parameter is itself an object that inserts (but does not render) the font object. The relationship between the font object and the poem viewer object is achieved by (1) assigning the id "tribune" to the font object declaration and (2) referring to it from the PARAM element of the poem viewer object (with valuetype and value).

<P><OBJECT declare
     id="tribune"
     type="application/x-webfont"
     data="tribune.gif">
</OBJECT>
...view the poem in KublaKhan.txt here...
<P><OBJECT classid="http://foo.bar.com/poem_viewer" 
           data="KublaKhan.txt">
<PARAM name="font" valuetype="object" value="#tribune">
<P>You're missing a really cool poem viewer ...
</OBJECT>

User agents that don't support the declare attribute must render the contents of the OBJECT declaration.

13.4 Including an applet: the APPLET element

APPLET is deprecated (with all its attributes) in favor of OBJECT.

See the Transitional DTD for the formal definition.

Attribute definitions

codebase = uri [CT]
This attribute specifies the base URI for the applet. If this attribute is not specified, then it defaults the same base URI as for the current document. Values for this attribute may only refer to subdirectories of the directory containing the current document. Note. While the restriction on subdirectories is a departure from common practice and the HTML 3.2 specification, the HTML Working Group has chosen to leave the restriction in this version of the specification for security reasons.
code = cdata [CS]
This attribute specifies either the name of the class file that contains the applet's compiled applet subclass or the path to get the class, including the class file itself. It is interpreted with respect to the applet's codebase. One of code or object must be present.
name = cdata [CS]
This attribute specifies a name for the applet instance, which makes it possible for applets on the same page to find (and communicate with) each other.
archive = uri-list [CT]
This attribute specifies a comma-separated list of URIs for archives containing classes and other resources that will be "preloaded". The classes are loaded using an instance of an AppletClassLoader with the given codebase. Relative URIs for archives are interpreted with respect to the applet's codebase. Preloading resources can significantly improve the performance of applets.
object = cdata [CS]
This attribute names a resource containing a serialized representation of an applet's state. It is interpreted relative to the applet's codebase. The serialized data contains the applet's class name but not the implementation. The class name is used to retrieve the implementation from a class file or archive.

When the applet is "deserialized" the start() method is invoked but not the init() method. Attributes valid when the original object was serialized are not restored. Any attributes passed to this APPLET instance will be available to the applet. Authors should use this feature with extreme caution. An applet should be stopped before it is serialized.

Either code or object must be present. If both code and object are given, it is an error if they provide different class names.

width = length [CI]
This attribute specifies the initial width of the applet's display area (excluding any windows or dialogs that the applet creates).
height = length [CI]
This attribute specifies the initial height of the applet's display area (excluding any windows or dialogs that the applet creates).

Attributes defined elsewhere

This element, supported by all Java-enabled browsers, allows designers to embed a Java applet in an HTML document. It has been deprecated in favor of the OBJECT element.

The content of the APPLET acts as alternate information for user agents that don't support this element or are currently configured not to support applets. User agents must ignore the content otherwise.

DEPRECATED EXAMPLE:
In the following example, the APPLET element includes a Java applet in the document. Since no codebase is supplied, the applet is assumed to be in the same directory as the current document.

<APPLET code="Bubbles.class" width="500" height="500">
Java applet that draws animated bubbles.
</APPLET>

This example may be rewritten with OBJECT as follows:

<P><OBJECT codetype="application/java"
        classid="java:Bubbles.class"
        width="500" height="500">
Java applet that draws animated bubbles.
</OBJECT>

Initial values may be supplied to the applet via the PARAM element.

DEPRECATED EXAMPLE:
The following sample Java applet:

<APPLET code="AudioItem" width="15" height="15">
<PARAM name="snd" value="Hello.au|Welcome.au">
Java applet that plays a welcoming sound.
</APPLET>

may be rewritten as follows with OBJECT:

<OBJECT codetype="application/java"
        classid="AudioItem" 
        width="15" height="15">
<PARAM name="snd" value="Hello.au|Welcome.au">
Java applet that plays a welcoming sound.
</OBJECT>

13.5 Notes on embedded documents

Sometimes, rather than linking to a document, an author may want to embed it directly into a primary HTML document. Authors may use either the IFRAME element or the OBJECT element for this purpose, but the elements differ in some ways. Not only do the two elements have different content models, the IFRAME element may be a target frame (see the section on specifying target frame information for details) and may be "selected" by a user agent as the focus for printing, viewing HTML source, etc. User agents may render selected frames elements in ways that distinguish them from unselected frames (e.g., by drawing a border around the selected frame).

An embedded document is entirely independent of the document in which it is embedded. For instance, relative URIs within the embedded document resolve according to the base URI of the embedded document, not that of the main document. An embedded document is only rendered within another document (e.g., in a subwindow); it remains otherwise independent.

For instance, the following line embeds the contents of embed_me.html at the location where the OBJECT definition occurs.

...text before...
<OBJECT data="embed_me.html">
Warning: embed_me.html could not be embedded.
</OBJECT>
...text after...

Recall that the contents of OBJECT must only be rendered if the file specified by the data attribute cannot be loaded.

The behavior of a user agent in cases where a file includes itself is not defined.

13.6 Image maps

Image maps allow authors to specify regions of an image or object and assign a specific action to each region (e.g., retrieve a document, run a program, etc.) When the region is activated by the user, the action is executed.

An image map is created by associating an object with a specification of sensitive geometric areas on the object.

There are two types of image maps:

Client-side image maps are preferred over server-side image maps for at least two reasons: they are accessible to people browsing with non-graphical user agents and they offer immediate feedback as to whether or not the pointer is over an active region.

13.6.1 Client-side image maps: the MAP and AREA elements

<!ELEMENT MAP - - ((%block;) | AREA)+ -- client-side image map -->
<!ATTLIST MAP
  %attrs;                              -- %coreattrs, %i18n, %events --
  name        CDATA          #REQUIRED -- for reference by usemap --
  >

Start tag: required, End tag: required

<!ELEMENT AREA - O EMPTY               -- client-side image map area -->
<!ATTLIST AREA
  %attrs;                              -- %coreattrs, %i18n, %events --
  shape       %Shape;        rect      -- controls interpretation of coords --
  coords      %Coords;       #IMPLIED  -- comma-separated list of lengths --
  href        %URI;          #IMPLIED  -- URI for linked resource --
  nohref      (nohref)       #IMPLIED  -- this region has no action --
  alt         %Text;         #REQUIRED -- short description --
  tabindex    NUMBER         #IMPLIED  -- position in tabbing order --
  accesskey   %Character;    #IMPLIED  -- accessibility key character --
  onfocus     %Script;       #IMPLIED  -- the element got the focus --
  onblur      %Script;       #IMPLIED  -- the element lost the focus --
  >

Start tag: required, End tag: forbidden

MAP attribute definitions

name = cdata [CI]
This attribute assigns a name to the image map defined by a MAP element.

AREA attribute definitions

shape = default|rect|circle|poly [CI]
This attribute specifies the shape of a region. Possible values:
  • default: Specifies the entire region.
  • rect: Define a rectangular region.
  • circle: Define a circular region.
  • poly: Define a polygonal region.
coords = coordinates [CN]
This attribute specifies the position and shape on the screen. The number and order of values depends on the shape being defined. Possible combinations:
  • rect: left-x, top-y, right-x, bottom-y.
  • circle: center-x, center-y, radius. Note. When the radius value is a percentage value, user agents should calculate the final radius value based on the associated object's width and height. The radius should be the smaller value of the two.
  • poly: x1, y1, x2, y2, ..., xN, yN. The first x and y coordinate pair and the last should be the same to close the polygon. When these coordinate values are not the same, user agents should infer an additional coordinate pair to close the polygon.

Coordinates are relative to the top, left corner of the object. All values are lengths. All values are separated by commas.

nohref [CI]
When set, this boolean attribute specifies that a region has no associated link.

Attribute to associate an image map with an element

usemap = uri [CT]
This attribute associates an image map with an element. The image map is defined by a MAP element. The value of usemap must match the value of the name attribute of the associated MAP element.

Attributes defined elsewhere

The MAP element specifies a client-side image map (or other navigation mechanism) that may be associated with another elements (IMG, OBJECT, or INPUT). An image map is associated with an element via the element's usemap attribute. The MAP element may be used without an associated image for general navigation mechanisms.

The presence of the usemap attribute for an OBJECT implies that the object being included is an image. Furthermore, when the OBJECT element has an associated client-side image map, user agents may implement user interaction with the OBJECT solely in terms of the client-side image map. This allows user agents (such as an audio browser or robot) to interact with the OBJECT without having to process it; the user agent may even elect not to retrieve (or process) the object. When an OBJECT has an associated image map, authors should not expect that the object will be retrieved or processed by every user agent.

The MAP element content model allows authors to combine the following:

  1. One or more AREA elements. These elements have no content but specify the geometric regions of the image map and the link associated with each region. Note that user agents do not generally render AREA elements. Therefore, authors must provide alternate text for each AREA with the alt attribute (see below for information on how to specify alternate text).
  2. Block-level content. This content should include A elements that specify the geometric regions of the image map and the link associated with each region. Note that the user agent should render block-level content of a MAP element. Authors should use this method to create more accessible documents.

When a MAP element contains mixed content (both AREA elements and block-level content), user agents must ignore the AREA elements.

Authors should specify an image maps's geometry completely with AREA elements, or completely with A elements, or completely with both if content is mixed. Authors may wish to mix content so that older user agents will handle map geometries specified by AREA elements and new user agents will take advantage of richer block content.

If two or more defined regions overlap, the region-defining element that appears earliest in the document takes precedence (i.e., responds to user input).

User agents and authors should offer textual alternates to graphical image maps for cases when graphics are not available or the user cannot access them. For example, user agents may use alt text to create textual links in place of a graphical image map. Such links may be activated in a variety of ways (keyboard, voice activation, etc.).

Note. MAP is not backwards compatible with HTML 2.0 user agents.

Client-side image map examples 

In the following example, we create a client-side image map for the OBJECT element. We do not want to render the image map's contents when the OBJECT is rendered, so we "hide" the MAP element within the OBJECT element's content. Consequently, the MAP element's contents will only be rendered if the OBJECT cannot be rendered.

<HTML>
   <HEAD>
      <TITLE>The cool site!</TITLE>
   </HEAD>
   <BODY>
     <P><OBJECT data="navbar1.gif" type="image/gif" usemap="#map1">
     <MAP name="map1">
       <P>Navigate the site:
       <A href="guide.html" shape="rect" coords="0,0,118,28">Access Guide</a> |
       <A href="shortcut.html" shape="rect" coords="118,0,184,28">Go</A> |
       <A href="search.html" shape="circle" coords="184,200,60">Search</A> |
       <A href="top10.html" shape="poly" coords="276,0,276,28,100,200,50,50,276,0">Top Ten</A>
     </MAP>
     </OBJECT>
   </BODY>
</HTML>

We may want to render the image map's contents even when a user agent can render the OBJECT. For instance, we may want to associate an image map with an OBJECT element and include a text navigation bar at the bottom of the page. To do so, we define the MAP element outside the OBJECT:

<HTML>
   <HEAD>
      <TITLE>The cool site!</TITLE>
   </HEAD>
   <BODY>
     <P><OBJECT data="navbar1.gif" type="image/gif" usemap="#map1">
     </OBJECT>

     ...the rest of the page here...

     <MAP name="map1">
       <P>Navigate the site:
       <A href="guide.html" shape="rect" coords="0,0,118,28">Access Guide</a> |
       <A href="shortcut.html" shape="rect" coords="118,0,184,28">Go</A> |
       <A href="search.html" shape="circle" coords="184,200,60">Search</A> |
       <A href="top10.html" shape="poly" coords="276,0,276,28,100,200,50,50,276,0">Top Ten</A>
     </MAP>
   </BODY>
</HTML>

In the following example, we create a similar image map, this time using the AREA element. Note the use of alt text:

<P><OBJECT data="navbar1.gif" type="image/gif" usemap="#map1">
   <P>This is a navigation bar.
   </OBJECT>

<MAP name="map1">
 <AREA href="guide.html" 
          alt="Access Guide" 
          shape="rect" 
          coords="0,0,118,28">
 <AREA href="search.html" 
          alt="Search" 
          shape="rect" 
          coords="184,0,276,28">
 <AREA href="shortcut.html" 
          alt="Go" 
          shape="circle"
          coords="184,200,60">
 <AREA href="top10.html" 
          alt="Top Ten" 
          shape="poly" 
          coords="276,0,276,28,100,200,50,50,276,0">
</MAP>

Here is a similar version using the IMG element instead of OBJECT (with the same MAP declaration):

<P><IMG src="navbar1.gif" usemap="#map1" alt="navigation bar">

The following example illustrates how image maps may be shared.

Nested OBJECT elements are useful for providing fallbacks in case a user agent doesn't support certain formats. For example:

<P>
<OBJECT data="navbar.png" type="image/png">
  <OBJECT data="navbar.gif" type="image/gif">
    text describing the image...
  </OBJECT>
</OBJECT>

If the user agent doesn't support the PNG format, it tries to render the GIF image. If it doesn't support GIF (e.g., it's a speech-based user agent), it defaults to the text description provided as the content of the inner OBJECT element. When OBJECT elements are nested this way, authors may share image maps among them:

<P>
<OBJECT data="navbar.png" type="image/png" usemap="#map1">
  <OBJECT data="navbar.gif" type="image/gif" usemap="#map1">
     <MAP name="map1">
     <P>Navigate the site:
      <A href="guide.html" shape="rect" coords="0,0,118,28">Access Guide</a> |
      <A href="shortcut.html" shape="rect" coords="118,0,184,28">Go</A> |
      <A href="search.html" shape="circle" coords="184,200,60">Search</A> |
      <A href="top10.html" shape="poly" coords="276,0,276,28,100,200,50,50,276,0">Top Ten</A>
     </MAP>
  </OBJECT>
</OBJECT>

The following example illustrates how anchors may be specified to create inactive zones within an image map. The first anchor specifies a small circular region with no associated link. The second anchor specifies a larger circular region with the same center coordinates. Combined, the two form a ring whose center is inactive and whose rim is active. The order of the anchor definitions is important, since the smaller circle must override the larger circle.

<MAP name="map1">
<P>
<A shape="circle" coords="100,200,50">I'm inactive.</A>
<A href="outer-ring-link.html" shape="circle" coords="100,200,250">I'm active.</A>
</MAP>

Similarly, the nohref attribute for the AREA element declares that geometric region has no associated link.

13.6.2 Server-side image maps

Server-side image maps may be interesting in cases where the image map is too complicated for a client-side image map.

It is only possible to define a server-side image map for the IMG and INPUT elements. In the case of IMG, the IMG must be inside an A element and the boolean attribute ismap ([CI]) must be set. In the case of INPUT, the INPUT must be of type "image".

When the user activates the link by clicking on the image, the screen coordinates are sent directly to the server where the document resides. Screen coordinates are expressed as screen pixel values relative to the image. For normative information about the definition of a pixel and how to scale it, please consult [CSS1].

In the following example, the active region defines a server-side link. Thus, a click anywhere on the image will cause the click's coordinates to be sent to the server.

<P><A href="http://www.acme.com/cgi-bin/competition" rel="nofollow" >
        <IMG src="game.gif" ismap alt="target"></A>

The location clicked is passed to the server as follows. The user agent derives a new URI from the URI specified by the href attribute of the A element, by appending `?' followed by the x and y coordinates, separated by a comma. The link is then followed using the new URI. For instance, in the given example, if the user clicks at the location x=10, y=27 then the derived URI is "http://www.acme.com/cgi-bin/competition?10,27".

User agents that do not offer the user a means to select specific coordinates (e.g., non-graphical user agents that rely on keyboard input, speech-based user agents, etc.) should send the coordinates "0,0" to the server when the link is activated.

13.7 Visual presentation of images, objects, and applets

All IMG and OBJECT attributes that concern visual alignment and presentation have been deprecated in favor of style sheets.

13.7.1 Width and height

Attribute definitions

width = length [CN]
Image and object width override.
height = length [CN]
Image and object height override.

When specified, the width and height attributes tell user agents to override the natural image or object size in favor of these values.

When the object is an image, it is scaled. User agents should do their best to scale an object or image to match the width and height specified by the author. Note that lengths expressed as percentages are based on the horizontal or vertical space currently available, not on the natural size of the image, object, or applet.

The height and width attributes give user agents an idea of the size of an image or object so that they may reserve space for it and continue rendering the document while waiting for the image data.

13.7.2 White space around images and objects

Attribute definitions

hspace = pixels [CN]
Deprecated. This attribute specifies the amount of white space to be inserted to the left and right of an IMG, APPLET, or OBJECT. The default value is not specified, but is generally a small, non-zero length.
vspace = pixels [CN]
Deprecated. This attribute specifies the amount of white space to be inserted above and below an IMG, APPLET, or OBJECT. The default value is not specified, but is generally a small, non-zero length.

13.7.3 Borders

An image or object may be surrounded by a border (e.g., when a border is specified by the user or when the image is the content of an A element).

Attribute definitions

border = pixels [CN]
Deprecated. This attribute specifies the width of an IMG or OBJECT border, in pixels. The default value for this attribute depends on the user agent.

13.7.4 Alignment

Attribute definitions

align = bottom|middle|top|left|right
Deprecated. This attribute specifies the position of an IMG, OBJECT, or APPLET with respect to its context.

The following values for align concern the object's position with respect to surrounding text:

Two other values, left and right, cause the image to float to the current left or right margin. They are discussed in the section on floating objects.

Differing interpretations of align. User agents vary in their interpretation of the align attribute. Some only take into account what has occurred on the text line prior to the element, some take into account the text on both sides of the element.

13.8 How to specify alternate text

Attribute definitions

alt = text [CS]
For user agents that cannot display images, forms, or applets, this attribute specifies alternate text. The language of the alternate text is specified by the lang attribute.

Several non-textual elements (IMG, AREA, APPLET, and INPUT) let authors specify alternate text to serve as content when the element cannot be rendered normally. Specifying alternate text assists users without graphic display terminals, users whose browsers don't support forms, visually impaired users, those who use speech synthesizers, those who have configured their graphical user agents not to display images, etc.

The alt attribute must be specified for the IMG and AREA elements. It is optional for the INPUT and APPLET elements.

While alternate text may be very helpful, it must be handled with care. Authors should observe the following guidelines:

Implementors should consult the section on accessibility for information about how to handle cases of omitted alternate text.