[whatwg] Definition list and tables: what's the difference ?

Alexey Feldgendler alexey at feldgendler.ru
Tue Feb 13 05:35:15 PST 2007

On Tue, 13 Feb 2007 00:24:33 +0100, David Latapie <david at empyree.org> wrote:

> The title may seem silly: tables are completely different from
> definition lists; the only similarity is that they are both block
> elements.
> Well, on the presentational level, I could not agree more. But when you
> come to think to the semantics, I am not so sure.
> What follows is pure speculation from me -- not a request for any
> change, just some thoughts I would like your opinion on. Because I
> truly wonder if <dl> and <table> are different enough. Maybe this is
> just theoretical (practicability/compatibility may render the whole
> idea useless), but I would still like your opinion, especially
> considering the amount of talented people on this list.

The fundamental difference between tables and definition lists is that a table 
is a two-dimensional mapping of a pair of axes to one value, and a definition 
list is a uni-dimensional mapping of a term to one or more definitions. While 
there are some cases when either a table or a definition list can be used at 
author's choice, generally their use cases are different.

The most notable case when a table is inappropriate to replace a definition list 
is when a definition list contains multiple definitions for each term or group 
of terms. While multiple definitions can be either stuffed into one table cell 
or laid out in a row, both solutions seem like a workaround. 

Alexey Feldgendler <alexeyf at opera.com>
[ICQ: 115226275] http://feldgendler.livejournal.com

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