[whatwg] several messages about tables and related subjects

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Thu Aug 21 03:32:25 PDT 2008

On Thu, 21 Aug 2008, PaweÅ~B Stradomski wrote:
> I guess it's to difficult to implement such guessing right.
> <thead>
> <tr>
> 	<th abbr="Europe">Amount sold in Europe</th>
> 	<th abbr="Asia">Amount sold in Asia</th>
> 	<th abbr="North America">Amount sold in North America</th>
> ..
> </tr>
> </thead>

This example would be fine, the UA could easily strip common leading text 
and just say "Europe", "Asia" and "North Am" each time. (Stripping leading 
common text is a solved problem.)

> Another example (translated into English and simplified from real life 
> Polish text):
> <h1>Camp details</h1>
> <thead>
> <tr>
> 	<th></th>
> 	<th abbr="young scouts">Camp for young scouts (12-15 years old)</th>
> 	<th abbr="scouts leaders">Training camp for scout leaders (16-18 years 
> old)</th>
> ..
> </tr>
> [...]

In this example, the same algorithm would end up saying "Camp for" and 
"Training" as the two headers, but I think that's ok (if not necessarily 
ideal), since the user will know from having heard the full header several 
times that "Camp for" is short for the young people column and "Training" 
is short for the leaders column.

> Please don't remove this attribute, it doesn't hurt people who don't 
> care about using it, but might make it more difficult for disabled 
> people. Hearing same sentence over and over can kill usability.

It's wrong to think that attributes that no-one use (and research 
indicates that this attribute really isn't used at all) don't cause harm. 
Every part of the language that we have increases the cognotive load of 
the entire language. A language with one feature is simpler to learn than 
a language with one feature and six unused features.

I agree entirely that abbreviating long headers is something that should 
happen. But it should happen for _all_ tables, not just those written by 
conscientious authors.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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