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Thread: table summary attribute obsolete in html 5
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I see that in html5 the summary attribute is obsolete for describing table structure. How best to convey complex table structure then - or can one assume that a properly marked up table makes such a description unnecessary for modern screen readers?
State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
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2012-11-09 21:18, Angela French wrote:
> I see that in html5 the summary attribute is obsolete
> for describing table structure.
HTML5 is still very much just work in progress, even though parts of it
have been implemented in many modern browsers. The summary attribute is
one of the features at stake; opinions disagree on it. I think it is
fair to say that I'm in favor of making it not recommended, and I
wouldn't mind calling it obsolete.
The main argument is that it simply does not work and has not gained
much use. The main argument *for* it would be that in some cases, the
structure of a table is very obvious to a person who sees it at a
glance, whereas in non-visual rendering, or in a completely linearized
visual rendering, an explanation might be needed.
> How best to convey complex table structure then -
> or can one assume that a properly marked up table makes
> such a description unnecessary for modern screen readers?
The W3C HTML5 draft, in the part that declares the attribute as
obsolete, refers to techniques for describing tables:
That part makes a lot of sense, as long as we remember that some
specific techniques suggested there, such as the <details> element, are
HTML5 novelties with limited and qualitatively questionable support in
browsers. The main point is that any explanations about the purpose and
structure of a table that are needed for proper understanding should be
given in normal content before the table, or in the <caption> element.
And as the text there says, sometimes you can reorganize the table so
that a description is not needed. Indeed, the best description is one
that has been made unnecessary! But that's not always possible.