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Re: @headers issue resolved - allowing a td to be referenced by a header to be in the HTMl5 spec.

From: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2008 12:36:50 +0100
Message-ID: <48B7DF52.6000201@cam.ac.uk>
To: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>, www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>

Steven Faulkner wrote:
> At yesterdays HTML WG issue tracking telecon [1], the issue of headers
> not being allowed to reference a td (in the current version of spec)
> was discussed.
> It was decided by the Chair (Chris Wilson) after discussion and
> consideration of the pros and cons that the current spec should be
> changed to allow headers to reference a td element.
>  Chris "took action item assigned to josh and will figure out how to
> ensure edit gets made in timely fashion" [1]

"As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to 
make decisions when there is consensus. We expect that typically, an editor 
makes an initial proposal, which is refined in discussion with Working Group 
members and other reviewers, and consensus emerges with little formal 
decision-making. However, if a decision is necessary for timely progress, but 
after due consideration of different opinions, consensus is not achieved, the 
Chair should put a question (allowing for remote, asynchronous participation 
using, for example, email and/or web-based survey techniques) and record a 
decision and any objections, and consider the matter resolved, at least until 
new information becomes available." [1]

It seems to me that several aspects of this procedure have not been followed:

* There is no need for a decision to be made for timely progress. As far as I 
can tell not resolving this issue is not blocking other parts of the spec nor is 
it blocking implementors.

* It is not clear that all the different opinions were adequately considered. 
For example, I can see no evidence to suggest consideration of my point that 
marking up the example table with <th> for all the cells which the UA should 
treat as headers, and modifying the automatic association algorithm to cope, is 
easier for authors to understand and more likely to be done by authors not 
specifically interested in accessibility [2]. Therefore, taking this alternative 
approach will do more to improve overall accessibility of the web than simple to 
spec, hard to author, solutions like @headers pointing to <td> (this is related 
to our "Priority of Constituencies" design principle [3]).

* A telecon does not allow for asynchronous participation.

[1] http://www.w3.org/2007/03/HTML-WG-charter.html
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Aug/0632.html
[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/html-design-principles/#priority-of-constituencies

"Eternity's a terrible thought. I mean, where's it all going to end?"
  -- Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Received on Friday, 29 August 2008 11:37:26 UTC

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