W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > March 2004

Re: Styling table columns--why so limited?

From: Dan Delaney <dan1@fluidmind.org>
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 09:24:06 -0500
Message-ID: <406AD486.102@fluidmind.org>
To: www-style@w3.org

I guess what it boils down to for me is this: in practical terms, 
Web designers need to be able to use, on COL and COLGROUP, all the 
styles they can use on TDs. If they can't, no Web designer is going 
to use the COL and COLGROUP tags because they don't do what they 
need them to do. And if that's the case, what's the point of even 
having them in the spec?

Say, for example, that you have a table with 10 columns and 100 
rows--no colspan or rowspan or anything like that, just 100 rows of 
10 cells each, some containing numbers and others containing words 
(thus some need to be left aligned, and others right aligned), and 
the designer wants every odd column to have a background and wants 
to have one column in the table "highlighted" by giving it a 
different background color than the rest and making the text bold. 
Here's what one of the rows would have to look like:

<td class="Odd">Blah</td>
<td class="Number">1234567</td>
<td class="Odd Number">456</td>
<td>Blah blah</td>
<td class="Odd Number">2345</td>
<td class="Number">654</td>
<td class="Odd Number">987</td>
<td class="Number Highlight">765654</td>
<td class="Odd">Blah blah blah</td>
<td class="Number">4321</td>

Every one of 100 rows would have to have all those class attributes. 
What a mess. It would be REALLY nice to be able to make that look 
like this instead:

<col class="Odd" />
<col class="Number" />
<col class="Odd Number" />
<col />
<col class="Odd Number" />
<col class="Number" />
<col class="Odd Number" />
<col class="Number Highlight" />
<col class="Odd" />
<col class="Number" />


<td>Blah blah</td>
<td>Blah blah blah</td>


Then apply all those styles (background, font-weight, text-align, 
etc.) to the COL classes instead of TD classes. That's the potential 
that COL and COLGROUP have to allow page creators to clean up markup 
such as this so that it's not so bloated and unwieldy. Unfotunately, 
as I said, no one is going to use COL and COLGROUP because it just 
doesn't live up to its potential. So we're stuck with having to put 
all those classes in every TD of our tables (in this case, 1000 TD 
tags). So it can be debated forever whether those styles should or 
shouldn't be used with COL and COLGROUP, but the reality is that if 
those styles can't be used with them, there's no point in using 
those tags.

So the question is, why even bother having them in the spec if no 
one is going to practically be able to use them?

Received on Wednesday, 31 March 2004 09:26:40 UTC

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