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Re: Summary of Thursday's IRC conversation about @summary

From: Shelley Powers <shelleyp@burningbird.net>
Date: Fri, 05 Jun 2009 17:44:14 -0500
Message-ID: <4A299FBE.5040907@burningbird.net>
To: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>
CC: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>, public-html@w3.org
Jonas Sicking wrote:
> On Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 2:42 PM, Shelley Powers <shelleyp@burningbird.net> wrote:
>>> The argument that I hear most often is that on the pages where
>>> @summary *is* used, it has not been used correctly. For example, as I
>>> understood it, that was the argument made in [1].
>> But then, one could say we need to eliminate table then, because I've never
>> seen anything used more inappropriately than table.
> The difference is that there is a counter proposal for @summary.
> As far as I know, no credible proposal has been made to replace <table>.
>> Like I said, I'm not an accessibility person. But as a person who has worked
>> with the web 15 years, I have a hard time understanding the level of angst
>> associated with this one particular attribute.
> I agree, both from the people that want to remove it and the people
> that want to keep it.
Well, I can understand the folks who are against pulling the attribute. 
They've spent, what seems to me, a lot of time promoting this attribute, 
and accessibility in general. And now, a few people just want to yank it 
because "it's not being used right".  I know how I feel about some other 
decisions, though I'm pursuing my unhappiness about those decisions 
using a different approach.

>> I don't mean that in an
>> offensive manner -- I just don't understand this drive for some form of
>> perfection with something that is fairly obvious will take time and
>> education before decent propagation and good usage is met.
> You mean more education for @summary is what's needed?

Sure. That's how we've made a real dent in tables being used as layout, 
though the problem is still pretty prevalent. When you see people making 
an error, you don't slap them, and take away the web so they don't hurt 
themselves -- you show them how not to make the error.
>> I asked in the IRC, what are alternatives, and what was a little
>> uncomfortable was that the folks who really want this attribute gone, really
>> have no alternative solution in mind. Well, other than smoosh it into
>> caption, which is bad mistake, and a bad design decision (you don't want to
>> start redefining the context and meaning of existing elements).
> Why not? Especially if the change in semantic is such that
> compatibility with existing content is still maintained.

Every DBA and data person in this list just winced at that one. You're 
not maintaining existing "semantics" when you change what is allowable 
data in the container. And you don't change the meaning of a data 
container after it's been in the wild for a time. You can clarify the 
information about the container, but you don't literally change the 

If you must, you deprecate the old, and replace it with new. But that 
would mean pulling both caption and summary. Are you all willing to pull 
both caption and summary?

Seriously, if you all insist on "merging" the data, the only appropriate 
way to do so would be to deprecate both and replace them with something 
new. But deprecating table caption -- I'm not sure that's a particularly 
feasible idea.

> / Jonas
Received on Friday, 5 June 2009 22:45:07 UTC

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