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Re: Fw: Disturbing trend in tables

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2001 11:42:48 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200101131142.f0DBgmB03299@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> The blockquote example, like a number of others I can think of, is legacy
> from the days before CSS. Back in NS3 and IE3, if you did your indenting via
> CSS, the indents wouldn't appear. <blockquote> was a better answer for

You *could not* do indenting in HTML prior to CSS; you should not have
pretended that you could.  The problem with the authoring tool is that
it is making people think that HTML is a page layout, or at least a
typical WP, language, when it is not.

Personally I tend to thing that people who are not prepared to understand
this aspect of HTML should be using PDF, as it would more honestly
reflect what they were trying to achieve (tight formatting control).
For a revisable form, I'd suggest TeX or nroff (because they have open
specifications, and are available for most platforms, even though Word
is available to many, but not all people).

There are some marginal accessibility advantages to using HTML over PDF
when writing purely presentationally.  Most of these relate to it being
easier to recover the text.  However, these advantages are not really
to do with the fundamental nature of the two formats, but rather to do
with the fact that many authoring tools don't put a clean version of
the text into PDF files (e.g. MS Word insists on placing each character
individually, making it more difficult to locate word boundaries).
(PDF does have some functions for microspacing, but it probably needs
direct conversion from revisable form to PDF to fully use them, whereas
Word goes to PDF via PostScript, or a PostScript like print driver.)
(I fear that Word to SVG will have the same problem.)

Page description languages, like PDF and SVG, can also make it easy for
people to compose the page in an order that is not a logical reading 
order, whereas, even with the endemic use of tables, HTML is constrained to
read in locally sensible orders, although table layout tends to shuffle
the global order.

HTML only really scores for accessibility when it is used in the correct
spirit, and pretending that BLOCKQUOTE means increment the left and right
indents is the wrong spirit, but is encouraged by authoring tools and,
at least, early version of HTML email.

(Actually many users of Word use features for formatting side effects, but
Word controls both the user interface and semantics of what that interface
generates, so the user interface does reflect the underlying formatting 
model.)
Received on Saturday, 13 January 2001 07:37:45 GMT

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