W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > February 2002

Re: css layout should be symmetrical

From: Jesse McCarthy <mccarthy36@earthlink.net>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 13:50:03 -0500
To: www-style@w3.org
Message-ID: <MWMail.rcmhojjm@host.none>
"L. David Baron" <dbaron@fas.harvard.edu> wrote on 2/19/02 1:41:19 PM:

>I disagree.  For many documents that contain user interface, the best
>way to describe a layout using the existing features of CSS uses the
>table display types..

>The TABLE, TR, TH, TD, elements in HTML are for representing tabular
>data.  The display types used to display something shouldn't need to
>convey the meaning (semantics) -- the markup should already be doing

David, I don't really disagree with anything you've said, except that you 
seem to be making a distinction between using the HTML table elements to 
describe layout and using CSS table display types on other elements (i.e. div 
and span).  In fact there is no distinction.  And according to the CSS 2 Rec 
those display properties do convey semantics and are expressly 
contraindicated for HTML  In summary, in HTML a table is a table, so if you 
need to use a table for layout, do so, but there is no using a table without 
using a table. 

On a related note, someone just reminded me of a post that you made in the 
previous discussion on this topic that summarizes the situation very well.  
The second paragraph in particular presents a good overview.  

"Rob Larsen" <Rob@DrunkenFist.com> wrote on 2/19/02 10:33:18 AM:
 . . [entire "Lurker piping up." post]

I pretty much agree with everything you said.  It's good to separate 
structure from formatting, it's good to treat HTML as a document markup 
language, but as a number of people have pointed out (see L. David Baron post 
referenced above) web pages are typically more than "documents".  The typical 
graphic design / layout aspect of a web page has no semantics, no "more than 
meets the eye" aspect, it _is_ what meets the eye, a visually elaborate user 
interface.  With or without the W3C or any other technical standards this 
aspect of web development will persist and needs to be accounted for.

I don't think anyone will argue that the web is and always will be a 
primarily visual medium.  I don't see the problem with that fact being 
reflected in technologies like markup and style with the understanding that 
certain aspects of a web page will be lost on individuals accessing the page 
outside of it's native habitat.  The driving force behind the hard-line 
approach the W3C seems intent on pursuing is accessibility.  I'm not going to 
argue the merits of accessibility, but I don't think accessibility means 100% 
equivalency across all mediums and sensory capabilities -- it's just not 
possible.  I think accessibility is about making the essence of something 
available across as broad a range of mediums and sensory capabilities as 
possible.  Information that can be conveyed in language, whether written, 
spoken, signed, or sent in smoke signals, can be made widely availalbe -- to 
people with sight, blind people, deaf people, color blind people, etc. etc. . 
 But people need to realize that not everything is accessible to everyone -- 
 a blind person can never fully experience a painting, nor can a deaf person 
 ever fully experience a song. 

John-Paul Walton <jWalton@NSideas.com> wrote on 2/19/02 11:49:50 AM:
>I am a big believer in the potential of CSS, separation of style and
>content, etc etc. But it currently is one approach of many. To be used when
>it makes sense. Sure, tables are hacks, but they are a hell of a lot more
>predictable than full-CSS is right now.

I agree with what you're saying, but if developers take that kind of "hands 
off" approach of waiting for CSS to become useful it's not going to happen.  
Look at what the CSS Working Group produced when left to their own devices, 
this nightmare of complexity, inconsistency, and inadequacy that we all know 
and love as CSS 2.  The whole point of this list is to publicly discuss the 
technology with an eye to improving it.  Right at this moment there are a lot 
of us participating in this discussion that are obviously very concerned 
about the subject, I think it would be good to capitalize on that in some 
way, to achieve something constructive. 

Jonny Axelsson <jax@opera.no> wrote on 2/19/02 1:55:06 PM:
>19.02.02 17:24:25, Rijk van Geijtenbeek <rijk@iname.com> wrote:
>>Why? I don't understand Vadim's point that one shouldn't use the CSS2
>>display properties to achieve a grid like layout.
>Neither do I

How many times does this have to be explained on this list??  See "In case 
you are suggesting a table hack:" in 
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2002Feb/0046.html for the 
latest rendition of the explanation. 

Dave  J Woolley <david.woolley@bts.co.uk> wrote on 2/19/02 2:48:55 PM:
>> a developer I'd rather that the page take a couple extra seconds 
>> (milliseconds?) to render than that I not be able to produce the result I 
>	[DJW:]  In my experience, 30 seconds is more like it
>	for pages that can't be rendered because of pending
>	</table>s in the automatic table layout mode.

What hardware platform, software platform, and Internet connection is your 
experience on?  Is your markup well formed and well written?  Is your web 
server performing appropriately? 
Received on Tuesday, 19 February 2002 14:57:52 UTC

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