W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > October 2001

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

From: Jesse McCarthy <mccarthy36@earthlink.net>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 16:32:27 -0400
To: www-style@w3.org
Message-ID: <MWMail.nbhlgett@host.none>
Sampo Syreeni <decoy@iki.fi> wrote on 10/25/01 8:24:24 AM:
>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.

One moment you're asking where it says "that HTML tables couldn't be used for 
layout purposes", then the next moment, after you read where it says that, you 
tell me "Believe me, I've read this"?  Can you say in-con-gru-i-ty?  Let's not 
forget, you're the one who brought up WAI in the first place. 

>>"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 CSS table properties we're discussing were _never_ intended to be used in 
the way you're suggesting.  Nor were they intended to coexist with the XHTML 
Table module at any point.  There is no logical distinction between using the 
predefined HTML table elements for layout purposes and using arbitrary elements 
(e.g. DIV) with one of the table values for the display property for layout 

CSS 2 became a recommendation in May 1998, well before the XHTML Table module 
existed, as the specification which that belongs to didn't become a 
recommendation until three years later in April 2001.  The first working draft 
wasn't even published until April 1999, so the developers of the CSS 2 spec 
knew nothing of that. 

As stated in the CSS 2 spec, those properties are meant to be used to establish 
HTML table capabilities in other document languages that do not have predefined 
table elements.  As for your assertion that you should "use Namespaces to embed 
XHTML Tables module data into your document", you certainly should do that once 
that technology is implemented, if you are creating an XML application.  The 
bottom line is the properties we are talking about were _only_ intended to be 
used to establish table functionality in document languages that do not have 
predefined table elements, and now that the XHTML Table module exists, they 
would only be intended to be used in non-XML document languages that do not 
have predefined table elements. 

Furthermore, according to W3, these CSS table related properties DO by 
definition assign "actual table semantics to XML": 

"The following 'display' values assign table semantics to an arbitrary element:"
table, inline-table, table-row, table-row-group, table-header-group, table-
footer-group, table-column, table-column-group, table-cell, table-caption. 

I can't comment on the implementation details of this scheme, but that's what 
the standard says. 

The moral of the story, for you, is "a hack is a hack is a hack".  Don't let 
your supposed cleverness get the better of your judgement. 
Received on Thursday, 25 October 2001 17:32:49 UTC

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