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Subject: strict versus transitional XHTML tables [was: DocBook Technical Committee Meeting Minutes: 18 Mar 2003]

At 14:18 2003 03 18 -0500, Norman Walsh wrote:

>| DocBook Technical Committee Meeting Minutes: 18 Mar 2003
>| ========================================================
>4b. HTML tables in DocBook
>. . .
>ACTION: Paul to review how his proposal would change if we went with Strict
>instead of Transitional.

Part of what makes this question a bit involved is that there are 
HTML 4.0 (strict and transitional), HTML 4.1 (likewise), XHTML 1.0 
(likewise), and then XHTML 1.1 Module-based.

The XHTML 1.0 strict table model is defined/described at [1].
The XHTML 1.0 transitional table model is defined/described at [2].

The attributes in the latter that are missing from the former include:


The strict model makes it clear that the attributes it omits are
to be replaced by use of CSS.  (Of course, DocBook users don't really
have recourse to CSS, so the XSL stylesheets would have to pick up
the task, and the question is how would they know what style to use
unless there is an attribute to key in on.)

For our purposes, I could agree to leave table and caption alignment
can be left to the stylesheet and to omit the nowrap attribute (which
could be the property of an element within the cell).

Cell height can only be specified here (there is no height attribute
on row), so if someone wants a fixed height row, this is the only way 
to do it.  Cell width is usually specified at the column level, but can 
be overridden here; I see no harm in that, and having cell height but
not cell width would be confusing.

I think users would miss the background color attribute on table,
tr, th, and td.

The XHTML 1.1 Module-based spec [11] became a Recommendation 
in May 2001.  In this spec, the XHTML 1.1 doctype is described 
as follows [12]:

  The XHTML 1.1 document type is a fully functional document type
  with rich semantics. It is not, however, as varied in functionality
  as the XHTML 1.0 Transitional or Frameset document types. These
  document types defined many presentational components that are
  better handled through style sheets or other similar mechanisms.
  Moreover, since the XHTML 1.1 document type is based exclusively
  upon the facilities defined in the XHTML modules [XHTMLMOD], it
  does not contain any of the deprecated functionality of XHTML 1.0
  nor of HTML 4.

Therefore there is no strict/transitional distinction.  It is 
basically strict because "many presentational components ... are
better handled through style sheets."

This spec describes the (only) XHTML 1.1 table module at [13].
It is similar to the XHTML 1.0 strict in that it omits those
attributes I list above.  Then it adds the following attribute:


though the DTD at [14] doesn't actually show this attribute added.

Personally, I'd have a hard time taking background color and fixed 
height rows away from users.  While I could live with omitting some
of the presentation attributes, that seems too confusing.  Since tables
by definition already have a fair number of presentation attributes even
in the "strict" version, I see no harm in using the transitional version
of the XHTML 1.0 table model [2].


[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/dtds.html#dtdentry_xhtml1-strict.dtd_table
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/dtds.html#dtdentry_xhtml1-transitional.dtd_table

[11] http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/
[12] http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/doctype.html#s_doctype
[13] http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml-modularization/abstract_modules.html#s_tablemodule
[14] http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml-modularization/dtd_module_defs.html#a_module_Tables

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