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RE: Is this complex table properly coded?

From: Tim Roberts <tim@wiseguysonly.com>
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 2002 10:35:44 +0100
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-Id: <20021203093544.M93472@wiseguysonly.com>

If it is of any use, I published an article on Evolt that provides an easy to 
follow introduction to accessibility and tables:


There is also a good discussion below the article from readers along with a 
link to an online table builder that someone submitted.

Hope it is of use to you.


> RUST Randal wrote:
> > Typically I avoid complex tables. 
> Me too. But sometimes we cannot; sometimes a fairly complex
> table is the most feasible way to present complex technical
> information.
> > However, I need to add markup rules for complex tables into 
> > my style guide.
> I'm still struggling with the question what to recommend for
> tables in general in my practical short guide to Web accessibility.
> Considering the fact that most (data) tables on the Web make
> little or no attempt at using any accessibility features,
> even the distinction between <th> and <td>, I think I'll first
> present the very basics of proper table markup, then proceed
> to any extra markup we might add for accessibility. One reason
> to this is that accessibility features for tables are the
> most confusing thing in HTML markup related to accessibility.
> When experts are confused, I can't really expect novices to
> learn to use the complicated constructs easily; and using them
> _wrong_ way is probably worse than not using them at all.
> > I'm not sure that I'm using my ID and HEADER[S] attributes
> > correctly.
> As far I can see, your usage is correct: you use ID for
> the TH elements and list (as a space-separated list) in a
> HEADERS attribute in a TD element all the heading cells
> (TH elements) that apply to the current cell.
> However, the example is not very good in the sense that there
> is little reason to use two levels of header cells. In fact
> you will probably have difficulties in finding a real example
> of such a situation where that would be needed and where
> consequently you would need to use ID and HEADERS instead
> of the much simpler approach of just using SCOPE attributes
> in TH cells. In this example, it would be in several ways
> better to have just the headers Title, Director, Star, and Co-Star.
> I would also recommend using SCOPE in any case. There might
> be user agents that recognize SCOPE but not HEADERS and ID.
> Besides, SCOPE is a logical thing to use. Without it, TH
> markup does not really tell whether the cell is a header
> for a column or for a row (though heuristics might answer
> this in most cases).
> As regards to other issues in the markup (I'm interpreting the
> question in the Subject line as a broad one):
> > <table border="1" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0" rules="rows"
> > summary="Popular movies, the director, star and co-star." 
> I would use a summary attribute that more clearly expresses
> the content and structure of the table, e.g. "Information
> about movies: Each row contains the title, the name of the
> director, the name of the star, and the name of the co-star,
> of a movie." Maybe this is just fine tuning.
> > width="100%">
> This, especially when combined with the width attributes for
> the cells, reduces flexibility. This is a general design
> issue rather than accessibility, but I cannot help noticing
> that even in fullscreen mode, my IE shows the name "Harrison
> Ford" as divided into two lines in the last column, when I
> test your example. And such splits may have some impact
> on accessibility. For a less known name, or for a hypothetical
> reader who does not know Harrison Ford, the question may
> arise in the reader's mind whether the cell tells about
> two co-stars by their surnames or about a single co-star.
> > 		<tr>
> > 			<td headers="title">Star Wars</td> 
> It might be argued that in a table like this, the cells in
> the first row (movie titles) are logically headers for rows.
> I would use <th scope="row" ...> here.
> This is somewhat debatable of course, especially since
> typical browsers display <th> elements by default centered
> and in bold, and this might be undesired, even distracting.
> The centering can be prevented using an explicit align="left".
> Bolding is a different issue, but in practice, using CSS
> (font-weight: normal) would probably be sufficient.
> -- 
> Jukka Korpela, senior adviser 
> TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
> http://www.tieke.fi/  My phone +358 9 4763 0397

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Received on Tuesday, 3 December 2002 04:24:42 UTC

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