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Re: ACTION-128: Draft @summary voting text in conjunction with PF

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Wed, 08 Jul 2009 13:40:36 -0700
Cc: jfoliot@stanford.edu, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>, "wai-xtech@w3.org" <wai-xtech@w3.org>
Message-id: <7750C846-32D7-4013-84BE-461BB474E3F3@apple.com>
To: James Graham <jgraham@opera.com>

On Jul 8, 2009, at 9:49 AM, James Graham wrote:

> jfoliot@stanford.edu wrote:
>> Apologies for top posting.
>> I'm sorry James, but your propsed text would actually harm progress  
>> here. Numerous respondants have underscored the fact that caption  
>> and summary are different beasts and a continued insistance that  
>> they are "close enough" will only encourage continued aggitation -  
>> they are not. A hamburger is not a hotdog, even if you have both at  
>> your backyard BBQ.
>
> I am not attached to the particular wording; it was designed to be a  
> minimal change from the existing spec text (which mentions caption)  
> that included the type of description I require. I am just as happy  
> with:
>
> "The summary attribute on table elements was used in older versions  
> of HTML for authors to provide a description of the structure of  
> complex tables. Authors should not use this attribute in HTML 5  
> documents but should instead use one of the techniques described in  
> the table section to provide this information."

Right now, the end of the section about how to provide explanatory  
information about tables currently says this:

"If a table element has a summary attribute, the user agent may report  
the contents of that attribute to the user."

I would suggest that the text from the obsolete features section could  
go here, to provide clearer guidance:

"Authors should not specify the summary attribute on table elements.  
This attribute was suggested in earlier versions of the language as a  
technique for providing explanatory text for complex tables for users  
of screen readers. One of the techniques described [above] should be  
used instead."


Even better would be to actually state the potential problems,  
something like this:


This attribute was suggested in earlier versions of the language as a  
technique for providing explanatory text for complex tables for users  
of screen readers. If a table element has a summary attribute, the  
user agent may report the contents of that attribute to the user. In  
typical user agents, the summary attribute is not presented to the  
user by default. As a result, it is a common error to accidentally  
include a useless value without noticing. Another common error is to  
put text only in summary when it would be useful to all users.  
Therefore, users should not specify the summary attribute on table  
elements. One of the techniques described [above] should be used  
instead.



I think something like this would provide better guidance to authors.

Regards,
Maciej
Received on Wednesday, 8 July 2009 20:41:18 UTC

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