[whatwg] Table integrity and conformance

Sander Tekelenburg tekelenb at euronet.nl
Thu Oct 26 12:10:56 PDT 2006

At 11:45 -0400 UTC, on 2006-10-26, David Walbert wrote:

> On Oct 26, 2006, at 9:27 AM, Henri Sivonen wrote:



>> I think it should be dropped due to lack of implementations and use
>> after being in HTML 4 for years.

You'd better first find out the cause of that lack of implementation/use.
Maybe that cause has disappeared, or is about to disappear, or can be made to
disappear. Makes no sense to me to throw something potentially quite useful
away without first knowing that.

> It strikes me that the axis and headers attributes could both
> potentially be very useful; but if I were to use them, I'd almost
> certainly generate the table and attributes with server-side script
> (such as PHP), and then there would be no need for the HTML
> attributes since I could generate any desired reports the same way.

I can't follow this. AFAIK axis[*], headers and scope are all intended to
improve accessibility and useability of tabular data; they allow authors to
help user-agents help users to navigate tables. For example, a speech browser
could provide a mechanism to speak the table headers that apply to a cell; a
visual browser could render the table header for a cell when that table
header cell is outside of the viewport (that way we wouldn't even need
scrolling TBODYs anymore), draw lines to the corresponsing table cell headers
of a selected cell, or maybe even hide/grey-out all non-related (header)
cells; Etc.

> They seem to me to provide alternative functionality

Nitpick: HTML provides no functionality. It allows authors to provide useful
descriptions. It's up to the UA to turn that into functionality.

> [...] if the tables aren't generated from a
> database they'd have to be marked up by hand, and that would be a
> tremendous amount of work in which errors could easily be introduced.
> That may explain why the attributes are underused.

I suspect their not being used is more likely due to UAs not supporting them.
(As well as this being one of those non-visual features of the Web... Just
not Flashy enough for most Web publishers ;))

[*] I have to admit I don't understand axis. The HTML 4.01 description of it
is way beyond rocket science to me. So thus far I've only used headers and

Sander Tekelenburg, <http://www.euronet.nl/~tekelenb/>

More information about the whatwg mailing list