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

Re: fear of "invisible metadata"

From: Ben Boyle <benjamins.boyle@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 15:40:14 +1000
Message-ID: <5f37426b0706182240o38c36743x22b98a3bdd59c86f@mail.gmail.com>
To: joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie
Cc: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>, public-html@w3.org

On 6/19/07, Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie> wrote:
>
> Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:
> >The meta-data contained in the
> > summary element should be reused by user agents or assisstive
> > technologies to provide a visual slash renderable version of the
> > meta-data provided by the summary attribute.
>
> If this meta-date could also be made searchable by the likes of Google
> bots etc, it could be really useful. If I am again mixing science
> fiction with science fact, and it already is, apologies in advance.
>

That sounds good to me (although I'd still like to know why the XHTML2
group propose changing summary from attribute to element [1]).

The idea that the table summary should be accessible in visual media
is good. It may seem obvious that any UA *could* access this
attribute, but the HTML4.01 spec (and XHTML2) are quite clear that the
intent behind table summaries is "rendering to non-visual media such
as speech and Braille" [1][2]. So it was not intended to be used in
visual media? Maybe I am reading the spec too literally.

Many tables benefit from some extra explanation (i.e. a summary) about
their structure. This can be useful to everyone, if it is not limited
to "non-visual media". I believe this is what the WCAG Samurai refer
to in their advice.

But if use something outside the <table>, something other than
table@summary, then that information isn't explicitly associated with
the table (and it becomes more difficult for AT to make that
association). But is it better to duplicate that information outside
the <table> for visual media (WCAG discourage duplication with
"summary should not duplicate the caption" [3]) or to provide nothing
in the visual media? The idea that tables presented visually never
require an additional summary is a bit narrow I think... not really
taking into account the opportunities for improving information
comprehension that the summary could offer.

I think we should retain summary BUT remove the note about non-visual
media in favour of adopting universal access. We should be encouraging
its inclusion in visual rendering (I think it should support the same
kind of styling, especially positioning, that <caption> does [4]).

Unless there are reasons for keeping @summary limited to non-visual media?

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml2/mod-tables.html#edef_tables_summary
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/struct/tables.html#adef-summary
[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/2007/WD-WCAG20-TECHS-20070517/Overview.html#H73
[4] http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/tables.html#propdef-caption-side
Received on Tuesday, 19 June 2007 05:40:21 UTC

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