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Re: Layout versus data tables proposal for null summary attribute

From: Patrick H. Lauke <redux@splintered.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2004 22:48:47 +0100
Message-ID: <412FAC3F.8050609@splintered.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Kerstin Goldsmith wrote:

> people using tables for layout is not going to go away any time soon ...

Sadly, you're right.

> also, I am not in favour of banning approaches  in favor of "if this
> method, then this desired result," or "if this technology, then this 
> desired result, with these possible approaches for attaining said 
> result, with the understanding that these approaches are not the only 
> possible solutions ....."

I wasn't suggesting any banning, but: if we imply that using tables for 
layout is still ok, then of course people using tables for layout is not 
going to go away any time soon.

I'd be all in favour to have a technique explaining "if you use tables 
purely for layout, then you should use a null summary", as long as it's 
also pointed out that authors should not be using tables for layout in 
the first place: as per guideline 11 (WCAG 1.0) and guideline 4.1 (WCAG 
2.0), one should abide to the specifications; if we now look at the HTML 
4.01 spec for tables http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/struct/tables.html we 
note that "Tables should not be used purely as a means to layout 
document content [...] authors should use style sheets to control layout 
rather than tables."

I'm not trying to be an elitist css fanatic, and I do know that where 
the rubber meets the road there's often a need to still rely on tables 
for layout...and in those cases, it would be good to have a best 
practice suggesting something like summary="". However, I feel it should 
come with the caveat that the approach is actually going against the 
original intent of what constitutes a table *and* - by that rationale - 
one of the guidelines of WCAG itself.

Patrick
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Received on Friday, 27 August 2004 21:48:17 UTC

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