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Re: summary attribute compromise proposal

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Tue, 04 Aug 2009 15:20:12 -0700
Cc: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>, 'HTML WG' <public-html@w3.org>, po@trace.wisc.edu, lorettaguarino@google.com
Message-id: <07DDF9AD-4D02-43D3-8B0E-24F2CCE4DB0E@apple.com>
To: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>

On Aug 4, 2009, at 2:53 PM, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:

> Maciej Stachowiak On 09-08-04 22.19:
>
>> On Aug 4, 2009, at 1:00 PM, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
>>> John, since "progress" for the moment is linked to Ian's specific
>>> proposal, and since it doesn't seem like Ian proposed something
>>> that would make the summary part of the caption programmatically
>>> identifiable as a summary, I wonder whether, according to you - as
>>> soon as the summary is visible to all - sighted and unsighted,
>>> it isn't necessary to identify it as a summary anymore?
>> It's my understanding that existing AT can make the caption, or  
>> text associated by aria-describedby, available when visiting a table.
>
>
> Yes, may be ARIA is part of the solution. I myself have put
> forward the cross-browser compatible option of using <caption
> role="summary"> [1]. (Cross-browser compatible, if we give we - as
> Julian said, make it hidden by default. Making it visible requires
> some fiddling, until Firefox and Webkit catch up. [To be fair,
> making it hidden by default in IE6 needs extra fiddling in the
> form of adding a class to the summary caption.])
>
> However, Ian do not suggest using ARIA, AFAIK.

ARIA has not yet been integrated with the spec, but I think pretty  
much everyone agrees this should be done in due course.

>> It might be that in some cases, not specifically identifying this  
>> info as a "summary" could degrade the experience in a minor way.
>
>
> What about the "author experience"? Don't authors need "a summary
> slot" in order to see the option?

I don't think they do. For <img> there are a couple of different ways  
to give a textual equivalent, depending on circumstances, and I think  
that is fine. The high order bit is to make sure your tables are  
understandable to the disabled.

> Why do you characterize the degradation as minor?

I think getting the information is essential, and whether it's labeled  
using the word "summary" is inessential. In fact, I'm not even sure  
"summary" is the most appropriate English word to name a description  
of a table's structure, which is the likely kind of appropriate content.

>
>> On the other hand, it might improve the experience to label such  
>> info as a "caption" or "description" instead of a "summary".
>
> Please explain.

A piece of text that gives a high-level overview of a table's data  
would better be termed a "caption". A piece of text that gives a  
structural overview of a table, or information on how to read it,  
might better be termed a "caption" or "description". At least to my  
understanding of the English use of these words.

>> That being said, by my compromise proposal it's perfectly  
>> acceptable for authors to use the summary attribute if they find  
>> that, on balance, the reasons to choose another alternative do not  
>> apply.
>
>
> May we say that you suggest authors use @summary when the summary
> should be hidden. And else that they go for Ian's option?

I would put it the other way around. Authors should make the table  
description visible to everyone, unless there's a clear reason not to  
in a specific case, in which case one technique they could use is  
@summary. That's pretty much what my proposal says.

Regards,
Maciej
Received on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 22:20:52 UTC

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