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Re: complex layout tables


From: Olaf Drümmer
Date: Jan 29, 2014 1:00PM

Hi Patrick,

On 29 Jan 2014, at 20:43, "Patrick H. Lauke" < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

> Tables are not meant to be used for layout. They're for tabular data. I hope you're not intending to dispute that?

I actually do dispute that. HTML 5 even tells you how to do layout tables:
> If a table is to be used for layout it must be marked with the attribute role="presentation" for a user agent to properly represent the table to an assistive technology and to properly convey the intent of the author to tools that wish to extract tabular data from the document.

It turns out that in HTML (but also in Word, layout applications, etc.) a substantial number of content creators use tables not for what they were invented for, but in a different fashion, to arrange content in two dimension on the page or canvas. Tables have turned out to be a very robust and efficient mechanism for that, cell sizes adjust and still continue to align nicely, you can easily add rows or columns as needed and so forth. From the point of view of numerous users that is very valuable, and allows them to get their job done in a very short time in a very high quality (as in: high quality from their point of view, not necessarily from the point of view of everybody else).

[BTW - this is not so different from some of the hacks being discussed on this list where content magically appears or disappears for certain presentation types, e.g. invisible for visual display, but presented when using text to speech presentation - such hacks very honestly scare the heck out of me….]

Now, how do you convince a user who finds layout tables highly useful (at least in certain use cases), believes that they work from his point of view (why don't mobile devices do a better job of displaying tabular content? It has been proven they could, but most don't), and has neither the expertise nor the technical means to use a CSS based approach for his layout table, to stop using layout tables? Will you send the "table police"?