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Re: Data Table Collections (Research)

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Sat, 08 Sep 2007 06:36:38 +0200
Message-ID: <46E226D6.8060806@malform.no>
To: HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>

2007-09-07 21:13:03 +0200 "Ben 'Cerbera' Millard" 

[ ... What Anne says about TABLE in his blog ... ]

 > Oh, and I'm [famous] now. :-) If you are new to the HTML5 tables 
effort, that
 > blog entry from Anne is an excellent introduction, imho.

 > [famous] <http://annevankesteren.nl/2007/09/html-tables>

I would have appreciated if Anne cared to be more accurate. Quote:

>> Tables in HTML
>> [...], but things can get slightly more complicated. For these cases 
>> HTML4 provides a scope attribute and in case all else fails a headers 
>> attribute.

Anne's very own example table, is a TABLE which, in HTML4, actually 
doesn't need either @SCOPE or @HEADERS [1] - according to the table 
inspector. But when one do not understand how @SCOPE works in HTML4, 
then one can actually destroy things, which is what also happens in 
Anne's example table - when using the HTML4 algorithm. (Which proves why 
it is important to be able to inspect tables.)

>> The former is based on the structure of the table and the latter lets 
>> you directly link a data cell to several header cells using ID values.

Yes, @HEADERS can also be used to solve ęimpossibleĽ things. But the 
normal use is to use @HEADERS as part oft the basic algorithm of HTML4. 
I.e. to use @HEADERS to work *with* the natural tabel structure. And not 
to use it to work against it. (See how Ferg does it <http://www.ferg.org>)

>> When writing tables it would be far more convenient however if you 
>> didnít need to include these attributes (much like you can omit 
>> </td>, </tr>, <tbody> et cetera).

So why, have you included @SCOPE in your table example then? HTML4 
doesn't need it. Only current HTML5 algorithm needs them.

>> Omitting these attributes is also likely what the majority of authors 
>> will do, when they are not busy abusing table for layout purposes, so 
>> having good algorithms in place to determine header cells has some 
>> advantages.

Here you bring in layout purposes: The biggest problem we have is that 
peope are not using the TH cells at all. And this is probably related to 
the layout abuse, where TH-cells can cause unwanted bold text etc - and 
so authoring tools have gotten the habit of not proposing tables with 
TH. So really, we need better author tools - tools which automatically 
propose TH-cells in topmost row and leftmost column.

>> [...] thanks to Ben Millard there is a fourth algorithm called "smart 
>> colspan" which would make my usage of scope in the Tour du Mont Blanc 
>> table superfluous.

Which it allready is - in HTML4.

>> Based on the fact that the header spans the entire first row of a 
>> rowgroup it implicitly becomes the rowgroup header according to this 
>> algorithm as I understand it. The biggest problem moving forward is 
>> categorizing all the use cases and making sure it works ok 
>> everywhere. We donít want to optimize the wrong things. (It should be 
>> noted that Ben Millard is probably on top of that with his 
>> Collections of Interesting Data Tables.)

Ben and James, are you also looking into improving the HTML4 algorithm? 
Or are you only looking to improve the HTML5 algorithm?

leif halvard silli
Received on Saturday, 8 September 2007 04:36:51 UTC

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