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Re: complex tables: heading cells and summary cells

From: Robert Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2007 13:54:11 -0500
Message-Id: <C27E1C65-D78B-49DE-9CD4-E00C892B85D3@robburns.com>
Cc: Ben 'Cerbera' Millard <cerbera@projectcerbera.com>, HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>
To: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>

Hi Laclan,

On Aug 8, 2007, at 10:17 AM, Lachlan Hunt wrote:

> Robert Burns wrote:
>> On Aug 7, 2007, at 8:09 PM, Ben 'Cerbera' Millard wrote:
>>> When talking about HTML table headers, I think "headers" is the  
>>> best word available.
>> OK, then what about table data cell headings? What's the best word  
>> for that? Is that different than the headers/headings contained in  
>> a THEAD which is more like a THEADER (a table header). If you find  
>> yourself translating all of these different terms back into  
>> headers, then that's the very problem I'm trying to avoid. There  
>> are different concepts here that all have the same word. That's a  
>> recipe for disaster.
> When it's not clear from the context and you need to distinguish  
> between them, then just use something like header group, header row  
> and header cell.

That solves part of the problem I'm trying to get at. The other  
problem is the treatment of heading as synonymous with header (the  
draft sometimes seems to move back and forth between these in the  
"Sectioning elements" chapter). I think that "header" and "heading"  
have fairly well defined meanings that are being undermined by their  
usage in the draft (and probably in the previous recommendations  
too). It's not necessary that we adopt the language I'm using in the  
final draft, but it's important that we digest the introduction of  
new vocabulary by each of our members if we're to be able to  
communicate at all.  Again, if you just keep translating the word  
"heading"back into "header" as you read what I wrote, you certainly  
won't see the point of why I make this distinction. However, if you  
read me as introducing a vocabulary distinction and think, that maybe  
I'm not just doing this frivolously, but because it illuminates and  
important underlying distinction, you'll be in a better position to  
understand what I'm posting.

The reason I want to introduce these differentiating terms, is  
because I want to be able to talk about a table in a way I couldn't  
otherwise do. I'm suggesting that there are runners to a table (like  
to a page or a section) and those runners are often called headers  
and footers. We have another concept that is not a runner: a TH cell.  
This TH cell may appear in a runner, but it doe not have to. That is  
a TH cell does  not have to appear in a header. It's a subtle  
distinction, but I think the seeming paradox is because a TH is not a  
header cell, as the term "header" is commonly used. I'm calling it a  
heading cell, because that is a closer match to the role played by a  
TH cell than is the term "header". Like I said I'm not advocating  
that we necessarily use this language in the Tabular data chapter of  
the draft, but I think it will help others understand my posts on the  

Take care,
Received on Wednesday, 8 August 2007 18:54:31 UTC

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