HTML WG approve tables for presentational purposes

I am guessing you are either meaning a) A screen reader like JAWS or Window-Eyes, or b)text-to-speech output like you can enable in Opera. These two technologies work very differently if you know how to use them. Only a screen reader works with the screen off and is at least 10x more powerful than you are making it out to be. A text-to-speech program either the builtin one in Opera, or ClaroRead, (especially the first) you still need to see the screen to select/highlight blobs of text you need read. JAWS and other screen readers actually scrape the code to know what to read. Speech output just looks at the words on the screen.

Again you are over-simplifying. Screen readers will announce that there is a table element, if the screen reader will anounce table with x columns, and y rows, if the summary attribute is defined it will say that, if there are headers defined it will announce them. After that, it depends on the user level and mark up. I say this because JAWS has hotkeys to navigate tables, which is great if you are in a data table, but not in a layout table. Since you can identify <th scope=“col”> or using <td headers=“”> the table will be read slightly differently. [url=]Juicy Studio: Complex Table Inspector. I simply am advocating that the value of the role attribute should be more descriptive.

I advocate for this, but read some instructions prior to jumping in. If you don’t you may get frusterated quickly.

Play with the demo at: CSS2 - The display declaration. I haven’t found a good row/col-span example yet.
Not sure why oddz is shivering…

<div class='table'>
 <div class='tr'
   <div class='td'>

doesn’t look too different from


other than tags :shrug:


yourself and rely on the pips on the home keys of your keyboard to work out what you are typing as well.

I never could, never will touch-type. Luckily I can have the reader read out the letters I type if I’m typing on screen. But that’s so hideously slow… so I stare at my keyboard instead, lawlz. And I’m on a laptop so I can sudo vbetool dpms off… not that that always works frustration[/ot]

I wondered if this was someone’s idea of making layout tables somehow better for AT.

JAWS will (or at least the older versions did) try to guess if a table is a real table or a layout table, based on td widths (and some other things). This means it won’t always get it right… whereas, maybe the idea was that if the author were to put the role in manually, that the reader would get it correct more often.

But, as someone already pointed out, people who use tables for layout don’t use roles. This won’t affect any pages with layout tables until CMSes start automatically adding role attributes to stuff (I’m waiting for it… dreading it too).

Not sure why oddz is shivering…

Because this

<div class='table'>
 <div class='tr'
   <div class='td'>

is an abomination unto teh Lawd compared to this:


Which is, I assume, what oddz was thinking.

I simply am advocating that the value of the role attribute should be more descriptive.

Well since it’s the last of the list on the page
The Roles Model | Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0
I don’t see anyone making different versions of the role for each of those (and truthfully I don’t understand the img example).
LAWLZ <div class=“clear” role=“presentation”></div>
I don’t get that one at all, since empty elements for “clearing” (ack) or CSS hooks aren’t posing a problem today anyway.

Basically a role for crappy markup should be called what it is:

Well my example was a simple table. I didn’t want to make multiple rows/cols.

I don’t get what you are getting at. Take a glance at WAI-ARIA Taxonomy, wouldn’t you say having an explicit presentationTable branch would be nice.

Well yeah, if “hello” is a paragraph than using a paragraph tag would be appropriate. However, if “hello” has of a collection within a data grid than a table would be much more proper than hacking one except when dealing with rare edge cases.

-casts vote for role=“markupabuse”- =D

This is one of those odd threads where nobody is really wrong, just everyone is looking at it from a slightly different angle. I can see everyone’s points (more or less), but I think my position is most in line with Stomme.

My problem with tables (and grids in general) for layout is you must force your layout to fit the grid. This happens in one of four ways:

  • you change your design to suit a grid
  • you increase the number of divisions in your grid
  • you allow things to break out of the grid
  • you have different grids within grids (i.e., nested tables)

The first one would be the best solution out of the three (in my opinion) because you actually get to use a grid as intended. However, getting everything to fit a grid (not just the containers) can be tricky, and often, a bit stifling.

The second one can be pretty decent if you’re only going from like 4 break to 8 breaks. However, most designs would require the grid to be broken in to 100 pieces… which can quickly get overwhelming.

The third pretty much defeats the point of using a grid and can become difficult to maintain.

The fourth one also quickly gets very complex and difficult to maintain.

(This comes from both HTML experience as well as dealing with things like Java and GridBags.)

There are very few layouts that are really that difficult to create with floats and/or absolutely positioned elements. There are some, but often those are so complex that it would probably be good to redesign (for usability sake). It’s far from perfect, but I think instead of this push to go back to tables/grids, we should just work on improving what we already have.

Once again, the W3C throws a burning flare into a fireworks facility. They prove their worth each and everyday. facepalm

To conclude, end the W3C, and let the ACTUAL browser makers take over the joint.

Uhm, given who the directing board of the W3C consists of… they already have…

Which of course is why we are seeing what happened the last time the browser makers had this much influence, the disaster known as HTML 3.2 – which is what all the newer specs seem out to create.

I’ll explain this again. Here’s what you do:

Bypass the W3C Altogether as a standards committee.

Have the Browser corps get together and create a Core or a foundation which will share the EXACT same features across all browser. Then,

if the browser Corp want’s to add “special” features, it can, by creating competition to see who can offer the better technology, and force the other browsers to up-their-game.

So, in the end, all browser will support HTML5 CSS3 XHTML5 completely! So, their is no second-guessing which browser supports which tag or selector!

Done! I will make our jobs a hell of a lot easier if they went with this idea.

…and web innovation ends right there, noone creates anything new for the languages or web because they are not allowed to, and a breakout groups forms to design a new browser in order to innovate, and you end up exactly where you were anyway.

This already exists. It’s called the W3C.

^I’d argue the WHATWG is more vendor-run than W3C. Even if it does have a benevolent dictator.

So, in the end, all browser will support HTML5 CSS3 XHTML5 completely!

This would get enforced how? Black-clad jack-booted Web Standards Evangelical Movement fundamentalist thugs breaking into browser vendors’ homes in the night-time? We already have standards that are over a decade old that CURRENT browsers STILL don’t support (and not because they disagreed or anything).

if the browser Corp want’s to add “special” features, it can, by creating competition to see who can offer the better technology, and force the other browsers to up-their-game.

We have that.
-moz, -webkit, -ms, -o, -khtml.

Ah yeah. I too would much rather a data table for table data than a bunch of weird nested divs everywhere.

Nah. Unless the rest of us could wander the web and add the presentation stuff ourselves… cause again, people who use layout tables don’t follow standards anyways. It would just be us talking to ourselves I think. Which is what I think this role=“markupabuse” is doing as well (except possibly in some special edge cases, who knows).

What our favorite stupid dutch kitty said – what you are asking for is what already exists.

LAST people who should be in charge are the browser makers – they’ve all been going their own directions for fifteen years, it’s only made things WORSE!

I like the benevolent dictator routine, you need someone at the top to say, yes, no, hell yes, and **** off to things… Right now you have design by committee – a plan for disaster if there ever was one.

It’s not dictatorship, but a bi-product of Globalization. We need order and stucture of the Web itself, besides that is what is already happening right now. Regardless if you like it our not. Finally, most of you guys sound like anti-Big-Corp people, so I am done with standards posts…

It’s not dictatorship, but a bi-product of Globalization.

By “benevolent dictator” I was specifically referring to Hixie as he is in charge of the WHATWG, ultimately.

Neither of us is saying it is; we’re saying it NEEDS ONE.

Lemme guess, another case of Englisc, mōdor wyrter! Gedōn ēow cweþan hit!?!

So far every one of your responses seems to make it look like you think SP and I’s posts are saying the exact opposite of what they mean.

If you look at the CSS forum, a good number of the posts are “I can get this to look great in all browsers except IE, HeLp!!!” You are advocating we should allow the companies to come together to make standards. If you look at about any of the W3C docs the authors will have Microsoft, IBM, etc after their name. They only meet under the W3C so the W3C can moderate…

Because they NEED someone to moderate, and frankly the W3C is too toothless to do it. Someone to say “no mozilla, -moz was and remains a bad idea”… someone to say “no microsoft, you can’t go off on your own tangent”, someone to say “hey M$, Apple and Mozilla, can we just treat form elements as inline-block now?”

The specifications are too vague and the W3C lacking the authority to get anything done… Yeah, let’s have the companies in charge, because that has a history of working out well as two companies working off the same specification can’t even agree how a form element recieves (or even should recieve) styling.

Sadly, browser makers are the LAST people that should be in charge, it’s basically what we have now – and look how well that’s working.

I think we can assume that disabled users will stay apprised of what tools they need to browse the web more effectively.

That would be nice - we’ll keep dreaming of that day…


Sorry this is a bad assumption, there are not many screen readers out there, the third screen reader survey lists 6. They all work closely to the same, just different hotkeys, some handle things better. If you just need a screen enlargement program, I can think of 3, but only 2 are legit… so the code needs to be better.

I think we can assume that disabled users will stay apprised of what tools they need to browse the web more effectively.

I disagree. That stuff’s expensive (there are free alternatives of some of it, which not everyone can use). People aren’t exactly rolling in money when they’re disabled, especially if they are “on disability”.

A refreshable Braille device costs as much as a small car!!