W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > March 2009

Re: Draft text for summary attribute definition

From: Gez Lemon <gez.lemon@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 1 Mar 2009 01:45:20 +0000
Message-ID: <e2a28a920902281745q35b75182o5790c80a61b0a8d6@mail.gmail.com>
To: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Cc: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>, Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>, Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>, Janina Sajka <janina@rednote.net>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
2009/3/1 Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>:
>> WCAG 2.0 does not recommend using summary="" for layout tables. There
>> is a note in one of the WCAG 2.0 techniques that states that a null
>> summary is acceptable on layout tables [1], but it is not a WCAG 2.0
>> recommendation.
>
> I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say recommend (in the RFC 2119 sense). I more
> meant to say in keeping with WCAG advice. I should be more precise even in
> my email messages.

WCAG 2.0 does not advise that layout tables should have a null summary
attribute. There is a technique that states that a null summary is
acceptable [1], but does not advise that layout tables should use a
null summary attribute.

> I think we should discourage the use of layout tables, but that we shouldn't
> avoid guiding authors who use them (unless we're prepared to prohibit their
> use and say "authors must not use layout tables").

Authors should not be guided to provide a null summary attribute for
layout tables. Layout tables shouldn't use any structural markup. I
agree with the WCAG 2.0 technique that a null summary attribute is
acceptable on layout tables, but I don't agree that it's advisable
(and WCAG 2.0 doesn't advise its use).

> I certainly don't want to contribute to the confusion between caption and
> summary. Version B tries to reduce the confusion by being explicit about how
> to craft summary and captions (and with Leif's section also a more complete
> specification for crafting a caption). My view is that we only contribute to
> the confusion by not addressing these issues.

I think the HTML 5 specification should simply state the purpose of
the summary attribute as unambiguously as possible, maybe with a
simple example, and point to WCAG 2.0 for advice on how to use the
summary attribute.

> I would certainly be happy to
> see HTML5 say "authors should not use tables for layout", but I don't think
> we have reached a level of specification nor support to be able to say
> "authors must not use tables for layout" which is why WCAG addresses the
> situation.

WCAG 2.0 does not give advice about providing a summary attribute for
layout tables. One of the techniques makes a passing reference to a
null attribute being acceptable on layout tables (not recommended; not
advisable; acceptable).

> My feeling is that version A is too ambiguous and will therefore
> contribute to the confusion we're all trying to avoid.

The wording might need improving to make suitable for inclusion in a
specification, but I don't think version A is ambiguous about the
purpose of the summary attribute. It clearly states the purpose of the
summary attribute without confusing its purpose with other elements
and without encouraging authors to provide structural markup for
layout tables.

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/NOTE-WCAG20-TECHS-20081211/H73


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Received on Sunday, 1 March 2009 01:46:02 UTC

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