W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > February 2009

Re: summary="" in HTML5 ISSUE-32

From: Simon Pieters <simonp@opera.com>
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 07:50:44 +0100
To: "Ian Hickson" <ian@hixie.ch>, "Leif Halvard Silli" <lhs@malform.no>
Cc: HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.upzzyu1widj3kv@hp-a0a83fcd39d2>
On Fri, 27 Feb 2009 02:40:16 +0100, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch> wrote:

>> > Unfortunately summary="" can't be made visible in Web browsers, due to
>> > the wide mis-use of the attribute.
>>
>> As with @title, it can.
>
> If Web browsers are willing to expose it, then that would definitely
> change matters. Are they?
>
> Input from browser vendors here would be helpful.

I've exposed summary='' in my user style sheet and then looked at about 100 pages from this list

http://canvex.lazyilluminati.com/survey/2007-07-17/analyse.cgi/pages/tagattr/table/summary

as well as pages from most sites in this list

http://philip.html5.org/data/table-summary-gov.txt

and concluded that, due to things like summary="For layout purposes", we cannot expose summary everywhere. We can't just expose it in standards mode, either, because there such pages using standards mode. We *could* expose it if we had a reliable algorithm to detect layout tables. Since such an algorithm would affect rendering in browsers, it would have to be given in the spec.

While doing the above excersise, I noted that *most* pages were using summary='' to say "for layout" and from the first list I didn't find a single data table with summary, let alone any data table with a useful summary. From the list of gov pages I only found 2 or 3 tables with useful summary -- the rest either repeated a heading or were "for layout".

Now, I can't but conclude that summary='' values are useful so seldom that it's not worth the cost and risk to break pages that use it wrongly.


If there's a need to distinguish between caption and summary, it seems better to use

   <caption> Table 1. <summary> Foo bar baz. </summary> </caption>

But it's not clear to me why

   <caption> Table 1. Foo bar baz. </caption>

is not good enough.

-- 
Simon Pieters
Opera Software
Received on Friday, 27 February 2009 06:51:36 UTC

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