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Subject: Tables, braille and other stuff

On Fri, Apr 25, 2003 at 04:37:45PM +0100, Dave Pawson wrote:
> From another planet.
> Braille users choke on tables.
> They have various algorithms to linearise tables.

Ah, that idea is completely in line with the approach to tables I'd
longged to present here, so let's jump on the occasion :)

Note: this mostly belongs to the docbook list, not -apps, so I'm
cross-posting and setting the followup address to there.

Basically, in my never-ending attempts to hunt the layout-oriented
items out of the content-oriented stuff which DocBook is mostly, I've
choked on tables as well.

My idea is that the very notion of a table is completely
layout-oriented.  Thus it should only appear in the stylesheets, and
not in the DTD - note that some DocBook elements can be rendered in
tables already, that should give a hint.  That way, as the remark from
Dave suggests, we could maybe get better support for disabled people.

What we really need (IMHO at least) is, like it was progressively done
until now to get to current Docbook, to identify what we're trying to
do when we _think_ we need a table.  Of course, that's not an easy
part, and I don't claim I've solved it.  I've merely tried to think
about it, and, even then, not much :)

Some of the uses of tables I can list off the top of my head are:

- database-like listing
	=> we already have SegmentedList which allows just that,
	although I'm sure some DocBook users don't think about it and
	use tables instead (unless they were given a good training on
	DocBook, that is ;)

- bidimensional (or multidimensional) arrays, possibly with some
	=> I've started to work on the bidimensional row-grouping
	issue in xtable[1], of the AlcoveBook[2] project.  This work
	is still preliminar, is nowhere near the point to which an RFE
	could be submitted for its inclusion into DocBook, and has not
	advanced much in the last 18 months.  I'd love to see some
	interest on the approach, and new ideas creep in !

[1] http://savannah.nongnu.org/cgi-bin/viewcvs/alcovebook/xtable/
[1] http://savannah.nongnu.org/cgi-bin/viewcvs/alcovebook/xtable/xtable.dtd?rev=1.6&only_with_tag=HEAD&content-type=text/vnd.viewcvs-markup
[2] http://savannah.nongnu.org/projects/alcovebook/

Just my 2 (euro)cents...
Yann Dirson <Yann.Dirson@fr.alcove.com>                 http://www.alcove.com/
Technical support manager                Responsable de l'assistance technique
Senior Free-Software Consultant          Consultant senior en Logiciels Libres
Debian developer (dirson@debian.org)                        Développeur Debian

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