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RE: Stylesheet columnisation

From: Neff, Robert <Robert.Neff@usmint.treas.gov>
Date: Tue, 2 Nov 1999 13:52:21 -0500
Message-ID: <B1E68D292F3CD111A57C0000F67CB3CA01044242@WDCSRV03.usmint.treas.gov>
To: "'Leonard R. Kasday'" <kasday@acm.org>, Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>, Paul Bohman <paulb@cpd2.usu.edu>
Cc: GARETH P PARKINSON <298gpp@tay.ac.uk>, W3c-wai-ig@w3.org
But isn't that contrary to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
Double-A?

		-----Original Message-----
		From:	Leonard R. Kasday [mailto:kasday@acm.org]
		Sent:	Tuesday, November 02, 1999 1:38 PM
		To:	Kynn Bartlett; Paul Bohman
		Cc:	GARETH P PARKINSON; W3c-wai-ig@w3.org
		Subject:	Re: Stylesheet columnisation

		Here's my short and extended opinions about using tables for
layout.

		Short opinion:

		Given the current browser situation, we can't use style
sheets for layout.
		Instead, use a table entirely for layout or entirely for
data, but don't
		mix these uses in one table or nest data tables inside
layout tables.  (Or
		avoid table layout altogether unless it serves a real
purpose).

		Also, help the reader identify when a table is used for data
by:
		1. Including a caption of the form "Table of blah blah
blah..."
		2. Using header cells in the top row.

		Extended opinion:

		1. Another advantage of tables is that with current tools
it's easy to
		control the order in which the contents are read, because
it's directly
		determined by the table layout.  Tools that use CSS for
layout may produce
		a reading order that's very different than the visual order.
This is
		because e.g. if you slide text blocks around on the screen,
all the tool
		does is change the coordinates, not the reading order.  This
happens for
		example with Microsoft Publisher.  Of course, it's
straightforward to do
		this if you're writing raw HTML and CSS by hand.  But you
run into problems
		with some visual type editing tools.

		2. It's true that using stylesheets for layout instead of
tables
		theoretically gives the screen reader a way to deterine if
it's really a
		data table or layout control.  However, this could easily be
done without
		style sheets, e.g. by requiring a caption on all data tables
(even a null
		caption), or defining a class.

		3. The current author guidelines permit tables for layout
until browsers
		shape up, but require that they make sense when read in the
order of the
		raw HTML ("linearized").

		4. Therefore, perhaps we should permanently allow the use of
tables for
		layout provided that a standard way is agreed on to
distinguish layout from
		data use.  We've got time to think about this since it
doesn't impact what
		we're doing right now.

		Len

		At 10:55 AM 11/1/99 -0800, Kynn Bartlett wrote:
		>At 10:57 AM 11/1/1999 , Paul Bohman wrote:
		>>I noticed that, although you are proficient at CSS layout,
you are still
		>>reluctant to use CSS for positioning. For example, the
HTML Writers Guild is
		>>built on table layouts and the Aware page
(http://aware.hwg.org/) avoids
		>>layouts that would require either tables or CSS
positioning.
		>
		>[...]
		>
		>>Even though I really like the concept of CSS, I have my
doubts about its
		>>usefulness until browsers give it better support.
		>
		>This is the crux of the matter.  CSS is not widely
supported enough,
		>nor reliably supported enough, to be able to use CSS
reliably for
		>layout.  In the case of the HTML Writers Guild, there's an
extra
		>design consideration involved in that while it's okay to
look "different"
		>in various browsers, we can't look "bad" in any of them,
and if you
		>use CSS for positioning you take a serious risk of looking
"broken"
		>in some browsers.
		>
		>(Most users, when they encounter a page that doesn't look
right, will
		>think the page is poorly designed, not that their browser
is deficient.
		>So the HWG site has to be created in a way that it will
look "right"
		>cross-browser.)
		>
		>-- 
		>Kynn Bartlett
mailto:kynn@hwg.org
		>President, HTML Writers Guild
http://www.hwg.org/
		>AWARE Center Director
http://aware.hwg.org/
		>
		>
		>
		-------
		Leonard R. Kasday, Ph.D.
		Institute on Disabilities/UAP, and
		Department of Electrical Engineering
		Temple University

		Ritter Hall Annex, Room 423, Philadelphia, PA 19122
		kasday@acm.org        
		(215) 204-2247 (voice)
		(800) 750-7428 (TTY)
Received on Tuesday, 2 November 1999 13:52:38 GMT

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