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Re: Summary of Thursday's IRC conversation about @summary

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Mon, 08 Jun 2009 16:00:28 +0200
Message-ID: <4A2D197C.6000202@malform.no>
To: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
CC: Shelley Powers <shelleyp@burningbird.net>, "public-html@w3.org WG" <public-html@w3.org>
Henri Sivonen On 09-06-08 14.49:
> On Jun 8, 2009, at 15:11, Shelley Powers wrote:
> 
>> Henri, your reasoning is a little flawed here.
>>
>> A statement has been made that the attribute isn't being used, but 
>> then you're saying that authors are expending effort on the attribute, 
>> which is the same as saying, it is being used. Which is it? Is it 
>> being used, or not?
> 
> If authors put *something* in the attribute but either AT heuristics 
> suppress the attribute or users disregard the attribute, it is being 
> used but is not useful.

May be this is incorrect - that is not useful, to authors.

The "mountain" of the @summary examples in Philip's data are 
empty. This indicate that authors for some reason would like to 
have a way to indicate that a table is a layout table. At least 
they have used it that way. (The "some reason" are, I believe, 
conflicting advice about this in the past.)

Part of the problems w.r.t. @summary content that gets ignored, is 
  that

a) authors do not know when user agents will identify the table
    as a layout table.
b) authors also typically do not know that summary
    content is ignored if the table is a layout table.
c) authors want to help users, and think they do so - even when it
    is clear to the author that it is a layout table. (Consider
    examples such as <table summary="layout table"> and similar.)
d) authors think they can help UAs in identifying layout tables by
    inserting an empty summary="". They don't know that they can't.
    (Or can they, sometimes?)

It seems to be very difficult for authors to separate between 
layout tables and data tables. (Many will only see a table as a 
layout table if it is used to maintain the layout of the _entire_ 
page, and will not see that a small container table is also a 
layout table.) And it isn't immediately clear to authors whether 
the most logical answer to a layout table is summary="" or 
summary="layout table".

As a matter of fact, the WCAG 2.0 answer is that no @summary at 
all is the right way, when or if the table is a layout table.

I believe many of the erroneous examples of @summary could be 
avoided if authoring tools triggered authors to describe the 
_structure_. Because then, for layout tables, there would be no 
structure to describe.
-- 
leif halvard silli
Received on Monday, 8 June 2009 14:01:09 GMT

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