W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > June 2007

Subj: Re: retention of summary attribute for TABLE element

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 10:48:20 -0400
To: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>, public-html@w3.org
Message-Id: <20070613144523.M53149@hicom.net>

james wrote, quote
I don't actually know the reasons for not including summary but I would 
guess they were related to the fact that @summary is tying up important 
metadata in an invisible attribute. Invisible data is more likely to be 
missing or incorrect than visible data; according to [1] @summary is 
present on about 2.5% of tables, I would expect it to be unhelpful on 
many of those (though clearly some actual research would be needed here. 
[2] has some results, mostly from CMS templates).
unquote

GJR: i think the search parameters you used are too limited - summary 
may or may not be the first attribute for a TABLE, but it usually 
isn't, so searching for summary=" yields more results

james also wrote, quote
OK, this sounds like a use case for a feature providing an overview of a 
table's contents. In general I think it's better to work from use cases 
+ backward compatibility requirements rather than HTML4 directly. It 
seems like some of the problems could be solved automatically e.g. 
saying how many rows and columns are in the table. Is this not the case? 
If this can be done, the remaining problem sounds like it could be 
solved either through <caption> or another mechanism for associating 
text that is, by default, displayed in visual UAs with the table. Of 
course I also believe that the behavior of @summary should be specced 
for UAs.
unquote

GJR: it's not just a question of raw statistics - my screen-reader tells
me that it is X columns by Y rows, but that doesn't alert me to the fact 
that there may be two rows of table headings the first spanning all the 
TABLE's columns, the other only a select few (tables such as the *** 
example on andre's test page [note *]; the more nested tables, the worse 
for the screen-reader user, as one has to traverse and inspect every 
table between the first table and that nested table for which the user 
is searching

as far as the wiki page HTML/SummaryForTABLE, do you want your comments 
and suggestions slash questions under reasons for deprecation, under 
work-arounds, or raw data?  in any event, i will add your post to the 
list of posts on the topic...

gregory.

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             Gregory J. Rosmaita, oedipus@hicom.net
  Camera Obscura: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/index.html
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Received on Wednesday, 13 June 2007 14:49:56 UTC

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