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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" 
<cerbera@projectcerbera.com>:

[ ... 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?


[1]<http://annevankesteren.nl/2007/09/tmb-overview>
-- 
leif halvard silli
Received on Saturday, 8 September 2007 04:36:51 GMT

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