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Re: Caption@title instead of table@summary?

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2009 10:44:01 -0600
Cc: joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <DAB74CB2-4887-4EEB-88B3-F8146FC772F3@robburns.com>
To: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Hi Leif,

On Feb 18, 2009, at 9:08 AM, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:

> Joshue O Connor 2009-02-18 12.39:
>> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>>> Interesting idea. I think the core tradeoff between <caption  
>>> title="">
>>> and <table summary=""> is whether the additional information is
>>> accessible (in some way) to sighted users.
>> No its not. The difference is between some thing that facilitates
>> comprehension for a user that /needs/ this information and something
>> that is optional for a user who can already comprenend it. For  
>> example,
>> a sighted user can quickly glance at a table and understand the
>> relationships between various headers and row and column  
>> relationships.
>> A non sighted user, has to interogate the table. @summary is useful  
>> as
>> it does some of this work for the user because the user is informed  
>> in
>> advance of what the table contains. It could be compared to a look  
>> ahead.
> I agree with this description of the purpose of summary. And I doubt  
> that the usefullness of a such lookahead feature can be disputed.
> So if what I said is true, namely that:
>>>>  * It is possible that some users would be annoyed by seeing the
>>>>    @title content when hovering over <caption>.
> then those that have said that @summary, if useful, would be just as  
> usefull for visual UA users, as for non-visual UA users, are wrong.  
> (However, those that think that such info should be *as useful* to  
> both usergroups, should now step forward  - again ... )

I think there are two separate problems here. One is that we need a  
facility in HTML to communicate to users who primarily have a visual  
impediment to consuming a potentially complex table. The summary  
attribute does that well and the XHTML2 summary element does it even  

The second issue is that too many general purpose UAs treat such  
content as something to be hidden away. Earlier I and others suggested  
providing richer UI access to such metadata so that it is not hidden  
from users.[1] By following this approach authors and users remain  
cognizant of the existence of the table metadata even if it doesn't  
participate in the current styling/presentation. In my view, such a  
solution addresses the complaints about hidden metadata.

> I see som advantages if it is easy to display a summary as a title  
> tooltip. But I could also imagine that it could be annoying to see  
> such info which only duplicates what one can see by looking at the   
> table. This, that it is possible to see the table anyhow, could also  
> shape how authors ues the caption title: perhaps they would only  
> insert info that is useful to sighted users? Or, perhaps one would  
> avoid filling any content into <caption>, since then the title  
> tooltip would also not display.

My concern is that it places this information in a somewhat awkward  
place. I think James suggestion of using details would be more  
appropriate. However, I think an even better solution would be to  
allow AT and general purpose browser UAs to make the information  
available to users in their own particular ways and continue to use  
the summary attribute to provide the information.

Take care,

[1]: <http://esw.w3.org/topic/HTML/RicherUIAccessToHTMLData>
Received on Wednesday, 18 February 2009 16:44:40 UTC

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