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Re: How is it possible to devise such a feeble system?

From: Sampo Syreeni <decoy@iki.fi>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 15:24:24 +0300 (EEST)
To: Jesse McCarthy <mccarthy36@earthlink.net>
cc: <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.4.30.0110251441510.24475-100000@kruuna.Helsinki.FI>
On Wed, 24 Oct 2001, Jesse McCarthy wrote:

>Yeah I do, but maybe not as much as I dislike people who don't know
>much, but talk a lot.  You are seemingly unaware that vertical-align
>_should_ have no effect in this situation.

OK, so I'm forgetting the details. Let's go to the CSS2 spec. 17.5.3:

"The 'vertical-align' property of each table cell determines its alignment
within the row. Each cell's content has a baseline, a top, a middle, and a
bottom, as does the row itself. In the context of tables, values for
'vertical-align' have the following meanings:

[...]

middle
    The center of the cell is aligned with the center of the rows it
    spans. "

I.e. my description of the technique was inaccurate. You'd likely want to
make the outer div a table-row and the inner a table-cell, using
vertical-align:middle to center it vertically. Here, vertical-align *is*
supposed to work as I described. The devil is in the details, so you'll
have considerable fun getting the border, height, width and overflow
properties of the two elements to work for you.

>>How are CSS tables not legitimate? AFAIK, the legitimacy issue (at least
>>as far as WAI goes) is about using HTML tables, and not about marking
>>something as a table-cell in CSS.
>
>Well, if you want to bring WAI into it, out of the clear blue sky, maybe you
>should at least read their material first:

It's not out of the "clear blue sky". Rather, not using tables is an
accessibility issue, and formal specs having to do with those are mainly
the province of WAI. In the absence of the WAI specs, and text inserted
into other W3C standards originating in the WAI, where is it said that
even HTML tables couldn't be used for layout purposes?

>[
>  Tables should be used to mark up truly tabular information ("data tables").
>  Content developers should avoid using them to lay out   pages ("layout
>  tables")
>]

Believe me, I've read this. I've expended considerable effort in trying to
make my own site triple-AAA conformant. (No, it's not there yet.) Still, I
do *not* see how this should necessarily have anything to do with CSS.

>"CSS tables" are no more legitimate than HTML tables becase those
>properties, such as table-cell, exist to allow authors to define table
>elements in _non- HTML_ languages, e.g. XML applications.

I'm having a bit of a problem seeing why this is itself legitimate if we
take (like you) CSS tables as meaning assigning actual table semantics to
XML. If you want what is semantically a table, you should share W3C
semantics and use Namespaces to embed XHTML Tables module data into your
document. If you want something which can only be rendered as a table, you
use CSS to to make it look so. To me these two seem like heavily
overlapping, but still separate, tasks.

The reason you should use the Tables module is that semantics necessary
for alternate table renderings come exclusively from XHTML, and you cannot
render complex tables e.g. into audio without that extra metadata. That
metadata (like complex row/column headings or summary data) cannot be
substituted with CSS. Hence, truly tabular data should always be delivered
as XHTML -- using your own elements and marking them as CSS tables will
not get you a WAI compliant table model. However, if you go the way I
suggest, none of the trouble which prompts us to avoid tables ever
materializes: real tables are always marked as such in your document, and
are even present in a form readable by any compliant XHTML browser.

As far as I can see, the only role left for CSS tables then is a pure
layout one, which would mean that using CSS tables for whatever you like
is perfectly ok.

Sampo Syreeni, aka decoy - mailto:decoy@iki.fi, tel:+358-50-5756111
student/math+cs/helsinki university, http://www.iki.fi/~decoy/front
openpgp: 050985C2/025E D175 ABE5 027C 9494 EEB0 E090 8BA9 0509 85C2
Received on Thursday, 25 October 2001 08:24:25 GMT

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