View Full Version : tables are for data
12-11-2003, 03:49 PM
You know the sites, the kind that jump into place after you've already started reading. That's why tables are for data.
It's like watching WPW load in Mozilla; painful. Those poor search engines that try to find content in the massive rat nest of td and tr.
There is help available. http://www.sitepoint.com/article/379
Hi, my name is StarE.
I've been table free since February 2, 2002. My life is cleaner now. I'm more popular with the search engines. My sites load better, and faster without the tables. My editing time is cut in half. I spend more time with my family. I'm free. I've broken out.
12-12-2003, 02:39 AM
It's nice to have a tableless page and I know this is possible with CSS. One problem that I foresee (and encountered before) is browser compatibility. I opened the site of A List Apart in Netscape4, and the browser displayed a totally different appearance as viewed in IE.
I've tried CSS once for more controllable layout but I had to be extra careful with the coding because of browser inconsistencies. Since then I went back to using tables to avoid very cumbersome debugging.
12-12-2003, 01:01 PM
I take a Zen approach to the layout of my pages. If I tried to make my pages look identical in every browser available, I'd go crazy. My job is to make sure the information in my sites is available to everyone. It must be accessible. If it doesn't look identical in each browser, I'm okay with that.
The steps that www.espn.com took were profound. When using an older browser, you're directed to this terrific informational page http://espn.go.com/browserupgrade.html.
Wired http://www.wired.com/ took a more subtle approach to their education statement.
Most of the general public doesn't realize that there are many browsers available. We should take a proactive approach to the education of our customers/visitors.
I recently gave a talk at a grade school about web design. When I told the teachers that there were browser alternatives to Netscape 4.0 they were ecstatic. They had no idea that there were other browsers available.
I realize that my approach is Zen and idealistic. But if we keep designing to the lowest standard, we perpetuate the ignorance of our audience, and seal the door we are trying to open.
12-15-2003, 03:23 AM
Tables may of been invented for data but even the people at W3C say it's ok to use tables for controlling layout so long as it is laid out in a logical order for browsers that do not support tables.
There is nothing wrong in using a table for controlling the layout of elements on your page just as there is nothing wrong with using HTML rather than XHTML.
We should not try and impose the standards we demand from ourselves on other people.
12-15-2003, 03:35 AM
I applaud your use of tables only for tabular data, not for page layout. This was the original intent of the HTML specification, and more people are beginning to learn that standards-based design is the future of web design.
I do understand the dillema people face when they see their beautifully crafted, standards-compliant CSS ripped apart by Netscape 4.x or another early browser. Unfortunately, there are many large companies and government agencies who, in restricting their employees' choice of software, have left them with only one choice of browser: Netscape 4. The companies will not let them use a different browser. I guess some IT directors like living in the past.
There are some safeguards you can use when designing pages with CSS layout so that earlier browsers will not "choke" quite as bad on the CSS. One method in particular involves placing your style information in two separate external CSS files. The main file, with information that is understood by the majority of browsers, is referenced with a standard <link rel="stylesheet"...> tag in the head of the page. The second file, containing information that is appropriate for the more modern browsers only, is referenced with the command "@import" in an embedded <style>...</style> section in the head of the page. Older browsers will simply ignore this reference. There are also tricks to avoid the error in IE 5/Windows that affects the size of your CSS elements.
All of this can be done while still being sure that your HTML/XHTML and CSS conform to current standards. For those with layouts that really can't be converted to CSS only layouts because of poor CSS2 support in browsers, using a Transitional document type and having one table to position certain elements is not strictly out of the question. Remember though, that one day you will want to make that transition to CSS only layout. Make it easier on yourself by doing much of that work now.