Tables For Layout: Now Conforming

In case you’ve been lost in all of the SXSWi hullabaloo, or just neck deep in work like myself, it seems the W3C HTML Working Group has decided using role=presentation on a table element is now conforming. So it seems after 5 years of fighting this out in the trenches, per one rebuttal to the proposal:

Over the past decade or more, Web designers have been moving away from tables for layout. For a while, limitations in the market leading Web browser made this somewhat impractical for sites with complicated flexible layouts that had to be compatible with a broad range of user agents, but this is no longer the case, and new sites can avoid using tables without difficulty. Old sites won’t change, but old sites are not affected by changes to conformance criteria, since they already exist. Conformance criteria only affect actively developed sites, and those can move away from tables (and many avoid using tables at all).

The counter argument from the working group:

This assertion does not mention a specific example. By contrast the authors of the proposal to make

conforming cite gmail, facebook, yahoo mail, numerous IBM applications, and toolkits such as DOJO and YUI. As each of these are actively maintained, we find that there was insufficient evidence provided to back up this assertion.

So Facebook prevails (again)? God help us all.