Results of Questionnaire ISSUE-130: Allow tables to be used for presentational purposes - Straw Poll for Objections

The results of this questionnaire are available to anybody.

This questionnaire was open from 2011-02-20 to 2011-02-28.

8 answers have been received.

Jump to results for question:

  1. Objections to the Change Proposal to allow tables to be used for presentational purposes.
  2. Objections to the Change Proposal to disallow tables to be used for presentational purposes.

1. Objections to the Change Proposal to allow tables to be used for presentational purposes.

We have a Change Proposal to permit tables to be used for presentational purposes. If you have strong objections to adopting this Change Proposal, please state your objections below.

Keep in mind, you must actually state an objection, not merely cite someone else. If you feel that your objection has already been adequately addressed by someone else, then it is not necessary to repeat it.


Responder Objections to the Change Proposal to allow tables to be used for presentational purposes.
Anne van Kesteren I strongly object to this proposal. HTML is not a presentational language. If we want to turn it into a presentational language, or some kind of hybrid, we should apply that universally and not just punch a hole for tables.

I think it is pretty clear that the feedback from the web authoring community over the years has been that they want to move away from (ab)using HTML as presentational language. This would be a retrograde step.
Joshue O Connor I object, we don't need this. It is unnecessary, tables are for tabular data. </story>
Jirka Kosek
Martin Kliehm I object to this change proposal:

a) From an accessibility standpoint, there are a couple of issues: screenreaders switch into a table browsing mode, thus navigation between data cells is different and much more complex than just reading a text. So table layout adds a burden to a screenreader user. Also the content of pages with table layout tends to be confusing when read in source order, even when the visual representation is clear to a sighted user. role="presentation" doesn't change this.

b) W3C standards should be consistent; the WAI WCAG discourages the use of a table element for anything that's not a real data table.

c) Table layout is a bad practice: it inflates the amount of code, decreases the maintainability, and it mixes semantics (HTML) with presentation (the domain of CSS).

Therefore table layout MUST be discouraged.
Gregory Rosmaita 1. philosophically, i strongly object to this proposal -- the misuse of TABLE for presentational purposes should be prohibited in HTML5, for when TABLEs are used for layout, one who uses assistive technology to access web content must first navigate the TABLE in order to access the TABLE-ized content -- this is particularly problematic with FORMs stuffed into TABLEs, for one's AT can only be in 1 mode at one time, meaning one needs to navigate the TABLE via table-navigation keystrokes under the TABLE overlay, but then must switch to FORMs mode in order to process the form as a form; whilst there is an ARIA attribute that marks a TABLE or other element as "presentational" that role should only have to be invoked to accommodate legacy content, and should not be available as an "escape clause" for those who seek to use a TABLE to control layout; the separation between content and presentation was one of the major gains of HTML4 and a guiding design principle for HTML5 -- the banning of the use of TABLE in HTML5 for presentational purposed builds upon that separation, which would make it easier for all users to use content, not only those whose UA can render a TABLE or who can visually process a table -- presentation is presentation, and content is content; even though others have stated that if TABLE for presentation purposes is made invalid that a lot of current content will suddenly be invalid that is due to a delayed reaction on the part of portal architects and implementors to the concept of separating content from presentation, and such entities SHOULD NOT be allowed to continue this bad, harmful practice; TABLE must and should be reserved for the presentation of tabular data;

2. practically, i can live with this change proposal, PROVIDED that:

2.1) HTML5 define a new global attribute "role";

2.2) HTML5 allows the "annotations for assistive technology" section to define the acceptable values for "role" and their association with HTML5 elements;

2.3) HTML5 specifically allows role="presentation" to be applied to TABLE markup;

2.4) HTML5 clarify that TABLE should not be used for presentational purposes, but that applying role="presentation" is allowed for repair of older content (both documents rendered by a UA and templates in authoring tools) and in cases where styling cannot be achieved via CSS
or which lack a CSS engine

if these 4 conditions are met, it will mean that if a TABLE bears a role="presentation" and contains a FORM, the table markup for that TABLE should be thrown out by the assistive technology, so that a user of AT can use a "forms-mode" to interact with and double-check FORM controls and their states directly, even though they are contained in a TABLE, without the need for wrapping the actual HTML TABLE in a DIV with the role="form"
Richard Schwerdtfeger
Julian Reschke
Marco Ranon

2. Objections to the Change Proposal to disallow tables to be used for presentational purposes.

We have a Change Proposal to disallow tables to be used for presentational purposes.

Keep in mind, you must actually state an objection, not merely cite someone else. If you feel that your objection has already been adequately addressed by someone else, then it is not necessary to repeat it.


Responder Objections to the Change Proposal to disallow tables to be used for presentational purposes.
Anne van Kesteren
Joshue O Connor
Jirka Kosek Using tables for presentational purposes is not a good practice, but it is nothing which could and should be prohibited by HTML5 spec. This recommendation should be present in some sort of best practice document for HTML authoring or in accessibility guidelines, not directly in HTML5 spec. Remember that HTML has very diverse usage and in some scenarios presentational tables are perfectly legitimate.
Martin Kliehm
Gregory Rosmaita
Richard Schwerdtfeger Apparently, there are undocumented size limits to responses. My Objection may be referenced here:

Julian Reschke I believe the whole topic of "conformance" is a can of worms.

Currently, I don't see a compelling story behind what the spec forbids and what it allows (witness other exceptions, such as what kind of values are allowed on iframe/@width).

Right now, "conformance" to the spec doesn't get checked properly, as the only validator that we have is allowing lots of things it shouldn't. [This is not meant as a criticism about the validator.nu developers, who are volunteers!] Once validators actually do all the checks required by the spec people might be unpleasantly surprised about the conformance of their documents.

Summarizing, acknowledging that tables *are* used for this purpose, giving guidance about how to avoid it, or how to do it in a "better" way, while relaxing the "MUST NOT" to "SHOULD NOT" seems entirely harmless to me.
Marco Ranon Althought in RNIB we agree that using tables for layout is not always good practice (CSS is in most cases a more appropriate choice), we also think that the assumption that screen readers can't cope with layout tables is as flawed as the assumption that all screen readers can cope with the less rigid structure of CSS presentation.

There are developers/authors who would persist in believing that layout tables are bad for screen readers. They aren't. Bad ones are, as is the inappropriate use of CSS layout. Nested tables for layout is a different matter. Nested tables can make it impossible for screen readers to navigate through all parts of the page. Single level layout tables are no problem.
WCAG 2.0 doesn't say that layout tables must be avoided, so why should HTML5?

More details on responses

  • Anne van Kesteren: last responded on 21, February 2011 at 14:31 (UTC)
  • Joshue O Connor: last responded on 21, February 2011 at 16:00 (UTC)
  • Jirka Kosek: last responded on 22, February 2011 at 10:07 (UTC)
  • Martin Kliehm: last responded on 23, February 2011 at 13:42 (UTC)
  • Gregory Rosmaita: last responded on 23, February 2011 at 18:08 (UTC)
  • Richard Schwerdtfeger: last responded on 24, February 2011 at 14:37 (UTC)
  • Julian Reschke: last responded on 26, February 2011 at 18:10 (UTC)
  • Marco Ranon: last responded on 28, February 2011 at 17:19 (UTC)


The following persons have not answered the questionnaire:

  1. Tantek Çelik <tantek@cs.stanford.edu>
  2. Patrick D F Ion <pion@umich.edu>
  3. Judy Brewer <jbrewer@w3.org>
  4. Liam Quin <liam@w3.org>
  5. Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>
  6. Chris Wilson <cwilso@google.com>
  7. David Carlisle <davidc@nag.co.uk>
  8. James Helman <jhelman@movielabs.com>
  9. Jim Allan <jimallan@tsbvi.edu>
  10. Chris Marrin <cmarrin@apple.com>
  11. Charles McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex.ru>
  12. Philippe Le Hégaret <plh@w3.org>
  13. Don Brutzman <brutzman@nps.edu>
  14. T.V. Raman <raman@google.com>
  15. David Singer <singer@apple.com>
  16. Daniel Glazman <daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com>
  17. Karl Dubost <karl@la-grange.net>
  18. Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
  19. Wu Chou <wu.chou@huawei.com>
  20. Katsuhiko Momoi <momoi@google.com>
  21. Kangchan Lee <chan@w3.org>
  22. Roy Fielding <fielding@gbiv.com>
  23. Deborah Dahl <dahl@conversational-technologies.com>
  24. Michael Cooper <cooper@w3.org>
  25. Glenn Adams <glenn@skynav.com>
  26. Jonathan Jeon <hollobit@etri.re.kr>
  27. David Hyatt <hyatt@apple.com>
  28. WonSuk Lee <wonsuk.lee@etri.re.kr>
  29. Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
  30. Robert Accettura <robert@accettura.com>
  31. Jonathan Watt <jwatt@jwatt.org>
  32. Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
  33. Emmanuelle Gutiérrez y Restrepo <emmanuelle@sidar.org>
  34. Patrick Lauke <redux@splintered.co.uk>
  35. David MacDonald <David100@sympatico.ca>
  36. Jack Jansen <jack@cwi.nl>
  37. Kazuhito Kidachi <k-kidachi@mitsue.co.jp>
  38. Markku Hakkinen <mhakkinen@ets.org>
  39. Jens Oliver Meiert <jens@meiert.com>
  40. Kazuyuki Ashimura <ashimura@w3.org>
  41. Han Xu <collin@w3china.org>
  42. Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
  43. Mark Crawford <mark.crawford@sap.com>
  44. Preety Kumar <preety.kumar@deque.com>
  45. Ian Fette <ifette@google.com>
  46. Cameron McCormack <cam@mcc.id.au>
  47. Stefan Schnabel <stefan.schnabel@sap.com>
  48. Travis Leithead <Travis.Leithead@microsoft.com>
  49. Youngsun Ryu <ysryu@samsung.com>
  50. Sierk Bornemann <sierkb@gmail.com>
  51. James Graham <james@hoppipolla.co.uk>
  52. Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@hsivonen.fi>
  53. Krijn Hoetmer <w3c@qontent.nl>
  54. Channy Yun <channy@gmail.com>
  55. Shane Thacker <shanethacker@gmail.com>
  56. Vilem Malek <murphy@malek.cz>
  57. Zhihong Mao <zhihong.mao@gmail.com>
  58. Benoit Piette <benoit.piette@gmail.com>
  59. Erik van Kempen <erikvankempen@gmail.com>
  60. Dimitri Glazkov <dglazkov@google.com>
  61. Nick Fitzsimons <w3@nickfitz.co.uk>
  62. Josh Lawton <w3c@joshlawton.com>
  63. S Emerson <w3c@accretewebsolutions.ca>
  64. Theresa O'Connor <eoconnor@apple.com>
  65. Justin Anthony Knapp <justinkoavf@gmail.com>
  66. Simon Myers <Smylers@stripey.com>
  67. Samuel Weinig <weinig@apple.com>
  68. Alexey Proskuryakov <ap@webkit.org>
  69. Alejandro Fernandez <alejandro@mediadvanced.com>
  70. Doug Jones <doug_b_jones@me.com>
  71. Marc Drumm <mdrumm@wcupa.edu>
  72. Danny Liang <danny.glue@gmail.com>
  73. Michael Puls II <shadow2531@gmail.com>
  74. Ron Reisor <ron@udel.edu>
  75. Craig Buckler <craigbuckler@gmail.com>
  76. Dale Hudjik <dale.hudjik@gmail.com>
  77. James Cassell <w3c@cyberpear.com>
  78. Joseph D'Andrea <jdandrea@gmail.com>
  79. Eric Carlson <eric.carlson@apple.com>
  80. Don Kiely <donkiely@computer.org>
  81. David Child <dave@addedbytes.com>
  82. Mark DuBois <Mark@webprofessionals.org>
  83. David Bills <w3@dfbills.com>
  84. Nik Thierry <me@thisemail.ca>
  85. Andrew Ramsden <andrew@irama.org>
  86. John Foliot <john.foliot@deque.com>
  87. Shefik Macauley <allknightaccess@gmail.com>
  88. Joe Steele <steele@adobe.com>
  89. John Vernaleo <john@netpurgatory.com>
  90. Jeremy Keith <jeremy@adactio.com>
  91. Jedi Lin <JediLin@Gmail.com>
  92. Jon Hughes <jon@phazm.com>
  93. Samuel Santos <samaxes@gmail.com>
  94. Dean Jackson <dino@apple.com>
  95. Mohammed DADAS <mohammed.dadas@orange.com>
  96. Sally Cain <sally.cain@rnib.org.uk>
  97. David Bolter <dbolter@mozilla.com>
  98. James Craig <jcraig@apple.com>
  99. Leonard Rosenthol <lrosenth@adobe.com>
  100. Jean-Pierre EVAIN <evain@ebu.ch>
  101. Mark Pilgrim <pilgrim@google.com>
  102. Matt Lee <mattl@cnuk.org>
  103. Magnus Olsson <magnus.olsson@ericsson.com>
  104. Chris Pearce <cpearce@mozilla.com>
  105. Andrew Wilson <atwilson@google.com>
  106. Per-Erik Brodin <per-erik.brodin@ericsson.com>
  107. Ojan Vafai <ojan@chromium.org>
  108. Martin McEvoy <martin@weborganics.co.uk>
  109. Aryeh Gregor <ayg@aryeh.name>
  110. Anders Bondehagen <anders@bondehagen.com>
  111. Steven Pemberton <Steven.Pemberton@cwi.nl>
  112. Raul Hudea <rhudea@adobe.com>
  113. Raghavan Gurumurthy <raghavan@adobe.com>
  114. Mayank Kumar <mayankk@adobe.com>
  115. Dragos Georgita <dgeorgit@adobe.com>
  116. Christopher Bank <cbank@adobe.com>
  117. Ole Riesenberg <or@oleriesenberg.com>
  118. Takuya Oikawa <takuya@google.com>
  119. Jatinder Mann <jmann@microsoft.com>
  120. Robert Stern <rstern@gmail.com>
  121. Eihab Ibrahim <eihabibrahim@gmail.com>
  122. Kensaku KOMATSU <kensaku.komatsu@gmail.com>
  123. Jer Noble <jer.noble@apple.com>
  124. Masatomo Kobayashi <mstm@jp.ibm.com>
  125. Peter Beverloo <beverloo@google.com>
  126. Andrew Scherkus <scherkus@google.com>
  127. Greg Johnson <greg.johnson@gmail.com>
  128. Martijn Croonen <martijn@martijnc.be>
  129. Stanley Manoski <manoski@mitre.org>
  130. Mounir Lamouri <mlamouri@google.com>
  131. Tony Gentilcore <tonyg@google.com>
  132. Joseph Pecoraro <pecoraro@apple.com>
  133. Bob Lund <b.lund@cablelabs.com>
  134. Tatsuya Igarashi <Tatsuya.Igarashi@sony.com>
  135. John Simmons <johnsim@microsoft.com>
  136. Mark Watson <watsonm@netflix.com>
  137. Clarke Stevens <c.stevens@cablelabs.com>
  138. Mark Vickers <mark_vickers@comcast.com>
  139. Jeremy LaCivita <jeremy.lacivita@comcast.com>
  140. Denis Ah-Kang <denis@w3.org>
  141. Alvar Laigna <laigna@gmail.com>
  142. Kunio Ito <kunio.ito@mail.rakuten.com>
  143. David Mays <david_mays@comcast.com>
  144. Michael Chen <michael_chen@comcast.com>
  145. jongyoul Park <jongyoul@etri.re.kr>
  146. Reinaldo Ferraz <reinaldo@nic.br>
  147. Eva Lingyun Jing <jinglingyun@baidu.com>
  148. GANG LIANG <gang.liang@huawei.com>
  149. Ryosuke Niwa <rniwa@apple.com>
  150. Gian Luca Marroni <gmarroni@libero.it>
  151. Ian Devlin <ian@iandevlin.com>
  152. Xingrong Guo <guoxingrong@baidu.com>
  153. Jet Villegas <w3c@junglecode.net>
  154. Alexander Surkov <surkov.alexander@gmail.com>
  155. Hasan Savran <hsavran@kent.edu>
  156. Eric VonColln <eric.voncolln@navy.mil>
  157. Rayi Lei <leiyi@baidu.com>
  158. David Dorwin <ddorwin@google.com>
  159. jiexuan gao <gaojiexuan@baidu.com>
  160. Xiaoqing Yang <yangxiaoqing@baidu.com>
  161. Aaron Colwell <acolwell@google.com>
  162. Alex Giladi <alex.giladi@huawei.com>
  163. Motomasa Futagami <mares@paoz.net>
  164. Kevin Streeter <kstreete@adobe.com>
  165. Christian Kaiser <kaiserc@google.com>
  166. Xuejian Li <lixuejian@baidu.com>
  167. Zuncheng Yang <yangzuncheng@baidu.com>
  168. Qianglong Zheng <zhengqianglong@baidu.com>
  169. Zhou Shen <shenzhou@baidu.com>
  170. Duoyi Wu <wuduoyi@baidu.com>
  171. Zheng Jia <jiazheng@baidu.com>
  172. Weifeng Feng <fengweifeng@baidu.com>
  173. Damin Hu <hudamin@baidu.com>
  174. Yang Liu <liuyang12@baidu.com>
  175. Zhixing Lei <leizhixing@baidu.com>
  176. Honggang Tang <tanghonggang@baidu.com>
  177. Kefeng Li <buaadallas@gmail.com>
  178. Xu Ma <maxu@baidu.com>
  179. Junzhong Liu <liujunzhong@baidu.com>
  180. Stefan Kaiser <stefan.kaiser@fokus.fraunhofer.de>
  181. Stefan Pham <stefan.pham@fokus.fraunhofer.de>
  182. Ami Fischman <fischman@google.com>
  183. Arnaud Braud <arnaud.braud@orange.com>
  184. Futomi Hatano <futomi.hatano@newphoria.co.jp>
  185. Bram Tullemans <tullemans@ebu.ch>
  186. Petr Peterka <ppeterka@verimatrix.com>
  187. lei wang <wanglei03@baidu.com>
  188. Milan Patel <Milan.Patel@huawei.com>
  189. Yiling Gu <guyiling@baidu.com>
  190. Zefa Xiong <xiongzefa@baidu.com>
  191. shanglin chen <chenshanglin@baidu.com>
  192. Ping Wu <wuping02@baidu.com>
  193. Bin Chen <chenbin01@baidu.com>
  194. Youichi Takashima <takashima.youichi@lab.ntt.co.jp>
  195. Patrick Ladd <Pat_Ladd2@comcast.com>
  196. Norifumi Kikkawa <norifumi.kikkawa@jp.sony.com>
  197. Hao Jing <jh.jinghao@huawei.com>
  198. Glenn Deen <glenn.deen@nbcuni.com>
  199. Lei Wang <wanglei@baidu.com>
  200. Tom Handal <thandal@verimatrix.com>
  201. Pengcheng Guo <guopengcheng@baidu.com>
  202. Tom Wiltzius <wiltzius@google.com>
  203. Pierre-Anthony Lemieux <pal@sandflow.com>
  204. Xie Jianhui <xiejianhui@baidu.com>
  205. Yujie Jiang <jiangyujie@baidu.com>
  206. Kazuhiko Takabayashi <kazuhiko.takabayashi@jp.sony.com>
  207. Brady Eidson <beidson@apple.com>
  208. Michael Thornburgh <mthornbu@adobe.com>
  209. Mick Hakobyan <mhakobyan@netflix.com>
  210. Vladimir Sinelnikov <sinelnikov@gmail.com>
  211. Chris Wong <huanghoujin@baidu.com>
  212. Yiliang LIU <liuyiliang@baidu.com>
  213. mingqiang zhang <imcnan@gmail.com>
  214. Suzanne Taylor <Suzanne.Taylor@pearson.com>
  215. Grzegorz Babula <gbabula@gmail.com>
  216. Brian Kardell <hitchjs@gmail.com>
  217. xueliang fan <fanxueliang@baidu.com>
  218. Niels Thorwirth <nthorwirth@verimatrix.com>
  219. David Evans <david.evans@rd.bbc.co.uk>
  220. Joseph Karr O'Connor <josephoconnor@mac.com>
  221. Yusuke Kagiwada <block.rxckin.beats@gmail.com>
  222. smallni ding <smallniding@tencent.com>
  223. Jim Walsh <jim@jwalshcreative.com>
  224. Greg Davis <greg.davis@pearson.com>
  225. Gabino Alonso <gabinovincent@gmail.com>
  226. Sam Langdon <sam.langdon@hachette.co.uk>
  227. Michael Kelly <mkelly@mozilla.com>
  228. Xiaoqian Wu <xiaoqian@w3.org>
  229. Yue Min <minyue@baidu.com>
  230. Min Li <limin04@baidu.com>
  231. Joanmarie Diggs <jdiggs@igalia.com>
  232. Pedro Xavier Jorge <pedro.xavierjorge@gmail.com>
  233. Akira Torii <Torii.Akira@bp.MitsubishiElectric.co.jp>
  234. So Vang <svang@nab.org>
  235. Nathalia Sautchuk Patrício <nathalia@nic.br>
  236. Vicente García Díaz <vicegd@live.com>
  237. Shinya Maruyama <Shinya.Maruyama@jp.sony.com>
  238. Yusuke Yokosuka <Yokosuka.Yusuke@bx.MitsubishiElectric.co.jp>
  239. John Riviello <john_riviello@comcast.com>
  240. yaolong wang <wangyaolong@baidu.com>
  241. Tao Liang <liangtao01@baidu.com>
  242. Glenn Eguchi <geguchi@adobe.com>
  243. Lukáš Čihák <lukas.cihak@mensa.cz>
  244. WOOGLAE KIM <wlkim@inswave.com>
  245. Min Ren <minren@tencent.com>
  246. Jason White <jjwhite@ets.org>
  247. Hyejin Lee <hjlee@html5forum.or.kr>
  248. Richard Grzeczkowski <richard_grzeczkowski@comcast.com>
  249. Pascal Perrot <pascal.perrot@orange.com>
  250. Dapeng Liu <max.ldp@alibaba-inc.com>
  251. Matthew Wolenetz <wolenetz@google.com>
  252. Cory Heslip <cory_heslip@comcast.com>
  253. Shaohang Yang <shaohang.ysh@alibaba-inc.com>
  254. Seiji Okumura <Okumura.Seiji@bc.MitsubishiElectric.co.jp>
  255. Eiji Yamamoto <Yamamoto.Eiji@db.MitsubishiElectric.co.jp>
  256. Ali C. Begen <ali_begen@comcast.com>
  257. HENGBING LIU <herbertliu@tencent.com>

Send an email to all the non-responders.

Compact view of the results / list of email addresses of the responders

WBS home / Questionnaires / WG questionnaires / Answer this questionnaire

Report issues on GitHub project w3c/wbs-design (preferred) or by mail to sysreq.