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RE: Sorting table columns

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 15:17:01 -0500 (EST)
To: Jamie Fox <jfox@fenix2.dol-esa.gov>
cc: "'Chris Kreussling'" <CHRIS.KREUSSLING@ny.frb.org>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.04.9902191458410.27282-100000@tux.w3.org>
It doesn't sound to me like any of these ideas present an accesibility
problem. Some user interfaces might be more intuitively recognisable than
others, but I am not sure.

Charles McCathieNevile

I am imagining that you would get something like the following:

example

(summary information)

Sorted by:
[ X ] Name
[   ] State
[   ] Shoe size

Select new sort criteria and {RE-SORT}

NAME                    STATE    SHOE SIZE
{charles}               {vic}     {lots}
{henrik}                {dk}      {some}
{tim}                   {uk}      {quite some}
{ziggy}                 {out}     {none}

example end

(where {something} is a link).
so selecting the State checkbox and pressing re-sort would go back to the
server and generate:

example

(summary information)

Sorted by:
[   ] Name
[ X ] State
[   ] Shoe size

Select new sort criteria and {RE-SORT}

NAME                    STATE    SHOE SIZE
{henrik}                {dk}      {some}
{ziggy}                 {out}     {none}
{tim}                   {uk}      {quite some}
{charles}               {vic}     {lots}

example end

 or something like
example

(summary information)

Sorted by:
[   ] Name
[ X ] State
[   ] Shoe size

Select new sort criteria and {RE-SORT}

STATE   NAME                   SHOE SIZE
{dk}    {henrik}                {some}
{out}   {ziggy}                 {none}
{uk}    {tim}                   {quite some}
{vic}   {charles}               {lots}

example end

If this is server-side there is no problem.

A really neat trick would be to provide an option of reading column-wise,
so you get

example

(summary information)

Sorted by:
[   ] Name
[ X ] State
[   ] Shoe size

[ ]row-wise
[x]column-wise

Select new sort criteria and {RE-SORT}

STATE        {dk}      {out}      {uk}           {vic}
NAME         {henrik}  {ziggy}    {tim}          {charles}
SHOE SIZE    {some}    {none}     {quite some}   {lots}

example end

On Fri, 19 Feb 1999, Jamie Fox wrote:

  What you're talking about sounds like the Yahoo classifieds where you may
  sort by ad date, price whatever.  I'd take a look at them and see what
  they've done and how accessible it is.
  -Jamie Fox
  
  -----Original Message-----
  From:	w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf
  Of Chris Kreussling
  Sent:	Friday, February 19, 1999 12:56 PM
  To:	w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
  Subject:	Sorting table columns
  
  I have an application to publish a directory of information - name, city,
  state, and so on - on the Web. My question is: How can I indicate the sort
  order of the information - in other words, by which fields the information
  is sorted - and allow the user to change the sort order, in accessible ways?
  Solutions must work with HTML 3.2; advanced solutions such as HTML4.0+CSS
  which degrade gracefully to HTML 3.2 are even better. This application is
  still under development, so unfortunately I can not yet provide a URL.
  
  DETAILS:
  
  The application allows a user to search the directory for entries which
  match their criteria, for example: all the entries in the state of Ohio
  whose name contains "Smith". The search results page lists the matching
  entries, and each entry in the list links to the full details of that entry.
  
  On the results page, a summary of the search criteria and results appears at
  the top of the page:
  
     There are 130 directory entries matching your search criteria:
     Name contains "Smith"
     State=OH
     Results: 1-25   26-50  Last 25
     Sorted by: Name
  
  The user can view 25 entries at a time. The "Results:" line lets them
  navigate through all the results and changes in response to the user's
  current position. In this example the user is viewing the first 25 matching
  entries; "26-50" and "Last 25" are hyperlinked to those blocks of entries,
  while "1-25" is not, providing an indication to the user of their current
  position. The "Sorted by:" line explicitly describes the sort order.
  
  The matching entries are presented in a table. The table is structural:
  column headings provide field names - name, city and state - while the rows
  provide the values for each field. Each name links to the full contents in
  the deirectory for that name. The default sort order is by Name, and the
  columns are listed in sort order.
  
  SOLUTIONS UNDER CONSIDERATION
  
  These are *not* necessarily accessible.
  
  1) Highlight the column heading(s) for the sort field(s) to indicate the
  sort order. For example, an arrow could be placed at the front of the column
  heading - ^Name or >Name - as an additional, visual signal that the rows are
  sorted in ascending order by Name. I don't know how this could be done
  accessibly.
  
  2) Let the user set the sort order with a radio button selection on the
  search form. To change the sort order on the results page, they've have to
  go back to the search form, revise the sort order, then re-submit the form.
  
  3) Let the user change the sort order on the results page. This could be
  done by:
  2a) Providing a simple form at the top of the page which allows the user to
  change the sort order, again with a radio button selection.
  2b) Letting the user directly manipulate the column headings to indicate the
  preferred sort order. For example: the column heading text could link back
  to the server with a URL parm indicating the new sort order. The server
  obliges by resorting the results and returning the page back to the user.
  
  4) Any explicit and implicit sort indicators change to reflect changes in
  sort order:
  - text description of sort order
  - column order
  - column heading highlighting
  
  Thanks for any/all suggestions.
  
  <author>Chris Kreussling</author>
  <disclaimer>The views expressed are
  those of the author and do not necessarily
  reflect the position of the Federal Reserve
  Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve
  System.</disclaimer>
  

--Charles McCathieNevile            mailto:charles@w3.org
phone: +1 617 258 0992   http://purl.oclc.org/net/charles
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative    http://www.w3.org/WAI
MIT/LCS  -  545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, 02139,  USA
Received on Friday, 19 February 1999 15:17:41 GMT

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