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Creating accessible tables

From: Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

Video: Creating accessible tables

Using tables to group and present data is the perfectly acceptable way to structure data on the web. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't do all that we can to make the data more accessible to the widest array of people and users. To that end, tables have structural elements and attributes that can be added to aid in the accessibility of the table. As an added bonus, we get more tags and structure that allow us to write a more comprehensive set of styling rules for the visual presentation of the table as well. Kind of a win-win if you will.

Creating accessible tables

Using tables to group and present data is the perfectly acceptable way to structure data on the web. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't do all that we can to make the data more accessible to the widest array of people and users. To that end, tables have structural elements and attributes that can be added to aid in the accessibility of the table. As an added bonus, we get more tags and structure that allow us to write a more comprehensive set of styling rules for the visual presentation of the table as well. Kind of a win-win if you will.

In this movie, we will take our newly created table and increase its accessibility by adding a little bit of additional structure. So I have our bigsur_trails file opened from the tours directory. There is our table just as we placed it on the page in the previous movie, looking well kind of boring but we will get to that in a moment. So the first thing I am going to do is go ahead and select my table. Now the reason I am doing that is because I am about to switch over into Code View and having the table selected means finding the table within the code is going to be a lot easier.

Now for this particular exercise, I am going to go over to my panel dock and I'm going to collapse it down to a series of icons. That way, when I go into Split Screen View like I'm doing here, I can see both the table on the page, and the table and the code at the same time. So you switch over to Code View, or do what I will do and go into Split View, and you want to scroll down to about line 44, if for some reason you didn't have the table selected. There is our table tag. Again, very basic structure. Now we are going to go ahead and add a couple of things to it.

Now the first thing that we are going to do to our table is we are going to give it a class attribute. So right after the cell spacing, I am going to type in class and the class that I want to use for this is data. So if you type in class and code hinting should help you type that in, if you see the class show up, hit Return and not only it will finish typing your class, it will add the equal sign and place you inside the quotation marks as well. Then just a single d-click should go ahead and filter the available classes and I am just going to hit Return to finish typing data.

So code hinting is a huge help. What is that we have done here? Well, I assigned a class attribute to this and gave the attribute a value of data. That is to identifying this table is being a table that contains data. That's going to help our styling but it's also passing along additional information about this table and what type of table it is. Now just after the class, type in a space, and we are going to create a summary attribute. So you can just do like an su for example, and if you see the word summary come up as a code hint, simply hit Return and it will finish typing it for you.

And the summary for this table is going to be 'A listing of all hiking trails available for the Big Sur Retreat tour package.' That may seem familiar. It's because we have already typed it one time so far but twice means that we retain it. Okay. Now our table has a class identifying what type of table it is and we have a summary that is summarizing what the data in the table is representing.

By the way, make sure your summary is encased in those quotation marks so that it remains a literal string. Now right after the opening table tag, hit Return to create a blank line and we're going to add a caption to our table as well. So Dreamweaver code hinting is a really nice feature when you are hand-coding things yourself. Just go ahead and start to open a tag, then type a c-a and notice that it jumps right down the caption. If you hit Return, it will finish typing the caption tag for you. Close the opening tag, and then type in Big Sur Retreat Hiking Trails.

The other nice thing about code hinting in Dreamweaver is that we have an open caption tag. Dreamweaver is aware of that. It also knows that it is not valid markup. So the moment I begin trying to close the tag. Let's say I begin to close the tag, and then I type in a Forward Slash. It finishes it for me just like that. So I don't have to type it all out. I just have to tell Dreamweaver, hey I am closing a tag. It looks for the previous opened tag and then goes ahead and close that. Very handy to do that. So now we have a caption and a summary.

Okay, we have got one last thing left to do here in terms of adding a little bit of extra structure and accessibility. And what we are going to do here is something known as a colgroup. Now colgroups are a way of grouping your columns together. Let me show you visually what I am talking about. I am going to switch back over to Design view. Screen readers and other devices understand pretty intuitively that the information in this row all belongs together. However, we don't really have a tag like the tag available to us for columns.

These are all individual table header or table data cells and they are not really grouped together at all. So inferring meaning from this lack of organizational structure is rather difficult. Now I know you are probably starting to going, wait a minute, our table didn't like that a second ago. I will talk about that in just a moment. I am going to go back into Code View and finish structuring my table. Directly after the caption tag and still above the remaining structure, I'm going to add a colgroup tag. colgroup is just colgroup.

I am going to do an opening tag and I am going to go ahead and create a closing tag just like that. Within a colgroup tag, we place col or column tags, which we will then identify with an id attribute. So inside this, I am going to start adding col tags, col, and I am just going to say for first one, id = "trailName", and then I am going to close the col tag out. Col tags are what we call self closing tags. That means that they don't need a closing tag like colgroup here or like caption here.

So to make yourself closing tag, what you do is you type in a space, SLS attribute, Forward Slash, and then close the tag. So that will become an individual tag just like that. Now we are going to have to do a few of these. So one of the easiest things to do when you are doing repetitive code like this is just to copy and paste. So I am going to copy that tag and then paste it on the line below that. trailName is going to change to trailType. On the next line, that's going to become trailLength.

On a line below that, that's becomes trailPath. Next we have trailElevation. And finally, we have trailRating. Now you will notice if you take a look over here in Design View, that each one of those, Name, Type, Length, Path, Elevation, and Rating, is referring to the information in that column. Therefore the order in which these appear is very, very important.

They are going to go down and find the first set of table header attributes that are scoped as a column. When they find them, they will relate each of these column group ids to the respective table header cells. Now speaking of that, we have got to finish this relationship by going down to the first table row, clicking inside the table header tags, and typing in scope = "col". And again we are going to do that for each one of these guys, scope = "col". This goes pretty quickly as long as you'll let code hinting help you.

Sometimes I have to back up and let it help me again. Here we go and one more. Again, this is a step you don't want to skip because if you skip this, there is no relationship between these and these. Now we are almost done. But remember we do have an additional set of table header cells that are identifying the contents within the row itself. So for those, and when we go down to our next table row, we can see our first one of those.

We are going to go ahead and scope those as rows. So by scoping them as rows, again, we are letting screen readers or any other device know which content that table header is referring to. So scoping your table headers is a very good idea regardless of whether using column groups or not. And remember these are going to be rows and not columns. We are almost done.

Now if you are not that comfortable doing hand coding, you definitely want to take your time and make sure you are getting everything right here. Make sure all the attributes are in the right place. Make sure the values for the attributes are in quotation marks. Make sure the tags that you've created are being closed properly. These are all those little things that can cause big problems more than you code if they are not handled correctly. Okay, well that wraps it up. Now as you can see, when I go back to the Design View, our table looks a lot different. Well, we had a little bit of help.

There is some preset styling that was triggered the moment we assigned a class of data to our table. Later on, we will write that styling so that will be stripped out of here pretty soon. However, the whole point of this exercise was to understand that the structure that we have just added is going to go a long way to making sure that our data is accessible. Now I do want to point out that if we had used Dreamweaver's table insertion method, we could have added the , caption, and summary attributes when we created the table. We are also not quite finished making our table accessible either.

We haven't used the thead and tbody tags, which are great ways to add additional structure and meaning to your tables. We will review using those as our next step towards completing our table.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

135 video lessons · 89064 viewers

James Williamson

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  1. 2m 57s
    1. Welcome
      1m 8s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 49s
  2. 7m 50s
    1. What is Dreamweaver?
      3m 16s
    2. Learning web design
      2m 22s
    3. Current web standards
      2m 12s
  3. 43m 9s
    1. The Welcome screen
      4m 5s
    2. Windows and Mac interface differences
      2m 23s
    3. The Application toolbar
      4m 7s
    4. The Document toolbar
      4m 40s
    5. Arranging panels
      8m 19s
    6. Managing workspaces
      7m 32s
    7. The Properties Inspector
      5m 54s
    8. The Insert panel
      6m 9s
  4. 25m 45s
    1. Basic site structure
      3m 11s
    2. File naming conventions
      1m 49s
    3. Defining a new site
      4m 35s
    4. Managing sites
      4m 51s
    5. Managing files and folders
      6m 36s
    6. Working with browsers
      4m 43s
  5. 27m 21s
    1. Creating new documents
      5m 16s
    2. New document preferences
      3m 6s
    3. Setting accessibility preferences
      4m 56s
    4. Working with starter pages
      3m 46s
    5. Managing starter pages
      10m 17s
  6. 30m 2s
    1. Basic tag structure
      2m 15s
    2. Adding structure to text
      8m 20s
    3. Creating lists
      9m 59s
    4. Getting text into Dreamweaver
      5m 59s
    5. Importing Word documents
      3m 29s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding style sheets
      2m 16s
    2. The anatomy of a CSS rule
      1m 48s
    3. Setting CSS preferences
      6m 36s
    4. The CSS Styles panel
      10m 2s
    5. Controlling CSS through the Properties Inspector
      5m 14s
    6. Using the Code Navigator
      7m 21s
    7. Using CSS Enable
      6m 45s
    8. Understanding element selectors
      8m 11s
    9. Understanding class selectors
      8m 49s
    10. Understanding ID selectors
      5m 59s
    11. Understanding descendant selectors
      6m 51s
    12. Attaching external style sheets
      7m 44s
  8. 1h 47m
    1. Working with units of measurement
      7m 11s
    2. Declaring font families
      9m 39s
    3. Controlling font sizing
      9m 9s
    4. Controlling weight and style
      8m 0s
    5. Controlling line height
      8m 29s
    6. Controlling vertical spacing with margins
      12m 3s
    7. Controlling spacing with padding
      5m 39s
    8. Aligning text
      8m 26s
    9. Transforming text
      5m 36s
    10. Writing global styles
      15m 42s
    11. Writing targeted styles
      17m 37s
  9. 1h 32m
    1. Understanding image types
      5m 3s
    2. Managing assets in Dreamweaver
      12m 51s
    3. Setting image accessibility preferences
      4m 20s
    4. Setting external image editing preferences
      3m 52s
    5. Placing images on the page
      7m 37s
    6. Photoshop integration
      5m 54s
    7. Modifying Smart Objects
      5m 51s
    8. Alternate Photoshop workflows
      8m 8s
    9. Modifying image properties
      11m 14s
    10. Styling images with CSS
      7m 11s
    11. Using background graphics
      9m 3s
    12. Positioning background graphics
      11m 6s
  10. 55m 16s
    1. Link basics
      3m 37s
    2. Setting site linking preferences
      2m 14s
    3. Creating links in Dreamweaver
      11m 1s
    4. Absolute links
      5m 8s
    5. Using named anchors
      11m 19s
    6. Linking to named anchors in external files
      2m 44s
    7. Creating an email link
      5m 24s
    8. Creating CSS-based rollovers
      13m 49s
  11. 1h 34m
    1. CSS structuring basics
      2m 56s
    2. The Box Model
      13m 21s
    3. Understanding floats
      6m 53s
    4. Clearing and containing floats
      8m 56s
    5. Using relative positioning
      4m 8s
    6. Using absolute positioning
      7m 18s
    7. Creating structure with div tags
      12m 7s
    8. Styling basic structure
      10m 34s
    9. Creating a two-column layout
      10m 37s
    10. Using Live View and CSS Inspect
      7m 51s
    11. Using Browser Lab
      9m 39s
  12. 56m 22s
    1. Reviewing table structure
      7m 41s
    2. Importing tabular data
      5m 13s
    3. Creating accessible tables
      9m 56s
    4. Using thead and tbody tags
      4m 0s
    5. Basic table styling
      8m 45s
    6. Styling table headers
      7m 52s
    7. Styling column groups
      4m 22s
    8. Creating custom table borders
      5m 1s
    9. Styling table captions
      3m 32s
  13. 1h 43m
    1. How forms work
      3m 0s
    2. Reviewing form design
      3m 2s
    3. Creating accessible forms
      7m 33s
    4. Setting form properties
      4m 6s
    5. The fieldset and legend tags
      4m 32s
    6. Inserting text fields
      5m 58s
    7. Inserting list menu items
      5m 26s
    8. Inserting checkboxes
      7m 50s
    9. Inserting radio button groups
      6m 22s
    10. Inserting text areas
      4m 12s
    11. Inserting submit buttons
      3m 37s
    12. Basic form styling
      12m 0s
    13. Form element styling
      8m 52s
    14. Styling form layout
      11m 49s
    15. Adding form interactivity
      2m 47s
    16. Using Spry validation widgets
      12m 49s
  14. 1h 23m
    1. Planning for templates
      10m 51s
    2. Creating a new template
      10m 37s
    3. Using editable attributes
      13m 43s
    4. Creating optional regions
      6m 23s
    5. Creating new pages from a template
      9m 17s
    6. Applying templates to existing pages
      6m 9s
    7. Working with nested templates
      7m 56s
    8. Working with repeating regions
      12m 58s
    9. Modifying templates
      5m 41s
  15. 40m 14s
    1. Behaviors overview
      3m 47s
    2. Hiding and showing elements
      9m 18s
    3. Spry overview
      4m 4s
    4. Using Spry widgets
      11m 36s
    5. Adding Spry effects
      3m 6s
    6. Using the Widget Browser
      8m 23s
  16. 28m 18s
    1. Inserting Flash files
      5m 4s
    2. Setting properties for Flash
      6m 27s
    3. Dreamweaver and Flash integration
      6m 6s
    4. Encoding Flash video
      6m 10s
    5. Adding Flash video
      4m 31s
  17. 45m 28s
    1. Running site-wide reports
      6m 33s
    2. Checking for broken links
      5m 41s
    3. Checking for browser compatibility
      8m 3s
    4. Adding remote servers
      8m 0s
    5. Uploading files
      7m 20s
    6. Managing remote sites
      9m 51s
  18. 34s
    1. Goodbye

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