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Re: Can we really deprecate tables?

From: Nir Dagan <nir.dagan@econ.upf.es>
Date: Wed, 05 Aug 1998 20:04:32 GMT
Message-Id: <199808051109.NAA09505@darwin.upf.es>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Can we really deprecate tables? Yes we can, and we should.

This howver does not imply that we should expect 
everybody avoiding using them for layout.

The way I see things is that the guidelines have several
layers. The basic or fundemental one is to define
what is an accessible usage of HTML and CSS. 
At this layer the considerations are intentionally based on the 
wrong assumption that user agents support the W3C 
recommendations on HTML and CSS.

The concept "deprecated" belongs here. It does not say 
that the usage of tables is forbidden, but it does say that 
their usage is suboptimal, there are other methods to achieve
the desired outcome of arranging text blocks side by side,
and that the W3C expects the usage of this method to 
disappear in some undefined future.

In another layer comes the question of how should people 
write their web pages now. Here one must consider a large 
and rapidly changing set of circumstances which include 
the poor support for style sheets in many browsers.

In any case this second layer of "choosing between 
good and evil" can come only after "good and evil"
have been defined at a  "theological" level.
 
Some authors may decide to continue to 
layout their pages with tables, some may decide 
to abondon the arrangement of text blocks side 
by side until better browsers will be dominating, 
and other may decide to use stylesheets and 
taking the risk of breaking some browsers. However 
all of these choices should be made while being 
aware of the advantages and disadvantage of 
each choice.

In my view the second layer may be addressed partly 
by the WAI, in particular in the evaluation and repair 
activity that may define different levels of tests to assist
page authors to choose a "house standard" that will assure a 
certain level of accessibility of their sites that will fit 
the other goals of their sites as well.

Regards,

Nir Dagan                            
Assistant Professor of Economics      
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Barcelona (Spain)

nir.dagan@econ.upf.es
http://www.econ.upf.es/%7Edagan/
Received on Wednesday, 5 August 1998 07:01:49 GMT

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