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more CSS and tables

From: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>
Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2002 15:19:36 -0500
Message-Id: <a05100301b85d0ea4c65e@[]>
To: WAI-IG <w3c-wai-ig@W3.org>
>Well, you haven't demonstrated that the content being laid out in a 
>table would have any better identification,

I guess <tr><td></td></tr> counts for nothing.

>In addition, the use of tables for layout purposes is an express 
>violation of the specification of HTML 4,

Not exactly:


>>Tables should not be used purely as a means to layout document 
>>content as this may present problems when rendering to non-visual 
>>media. Additionally, when used with graphics, these tables may 
>>force users to scroll horizontally to view a table designed on a 
>>system with a larger display. To minimize these problems, authors 
>>should use style sheets to control layout rather than tables.

Unless we have entered a world of Newspeak where "should not" means 
"must not," the spec says no such thing. And in any event, if tables 
are used for layout and do not "present problems when rendering to 
non-visual media," the putative reason not to use them vanishes.

Besides, every screen reader save for OutSpoken for Macintosh can 
handle tables. Mobile phones are not in the same category; they are 
not adaptive technology. And, in an irony unremarked by many, the 
only tables Lynx really mangles are data tables; typical layout 
tables linearize just fine.

I'm all for CSS layouts. I'm also all for table layouts. I use both, 
actually. Someday, when I really figure out how to use CSS layouts 
and all the browser bugs are worked out (all-stylesheet layouts are 
ten times harder to get right cross-platform than tables), I'll 
convert en masse. We have not reached that day, and nagging at people 
to stop using tables for layout when CSS is so very difficult and 
buggy *and* when real-world adaptive technology handles tables just 
fine simply is not getting us anywhere.

I am perfectly aware, by the way, of the vast repositories of 
ready-made CSS designs available out there, like 
<http://glish.com/css/> and the list at 
<http://www.zeldman.com/exit.html>. I have a hard time getting those 
to work, either.

   Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org | <http://joeclark.org/access/>
   Accessibility articles, resources, and critiques
Received on Saturday, 5 January 2002 15:21:02 UTC

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