Re: tab-width specifications in HTML

Claude L. Bullard (
Fri, 27 Jan 95 14:28:38 EST

Table designs have a painful history in SGML although
they are certainly superior to tab-stops. Everything
you cite does occur and some systems delete tab stop
information because it is difficult to discover where
to apply formatting. But for the browsers to support
tables, a common table spec is needed. At this time,
many of the SGML vendors support the CALS table and it
proven adequate for complex tables. Still, it was
designed with print applications in mind and can
be tricky when used in on-screen displays.

An issue to be examined in general hypermedia
authoring style (that may or may not be important
to application such as HTML that fix style), is
when is a table required? A table is a spatial
index of multi-dimensional relationships. Other
than satisfying a requirement to put all the
information and these relationships in a single
*display at a glance*, it does not encode the
relationships well. Separating the visual
arrangment characteristics from the element types
helps the reuse of the information and
the ability of hypertext to encode relationships
as links have traditionally been methods for
disentangling complex tables. Unfortunately,
hypermedia based on fixed DTDs such as HTML
are deprived by design of some of these techniques.

len bullard