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  1. #1
    SitePoint Member
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    I'm using Dreamweaver 3, and my big question is: should i use tables or layers to layout my site? I know that using tables can be a pain in the *** to get it right, although... my concern with using layers is that it just won't look good in Netscape.

    So do i go with tables, or try out layers?

  2. #2
    Irritability Defined
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    I'm currently tangling with DW3, and I could have sworn I saw a feature somewhere which allows you to convert layers to tables for maximum backwards compatibility. It should be in one of the first 3 menus up the top

    The best suggestion is to use tables anyway, because layers are nice, but as you said yourself, they won't necessarily show properly in Netsheet... err.. Netscape... Tables are a pain, but they're essential.
    My 2 Cents (or is that 2.2 Cents including GST?)

  3. #3
    I'm a college yuppie now! sbdi's Avatar
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    while we are talking about layers what settings do you have to give them to work properly in netscape and not overlap each other
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  4. #4
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Modify>Layout mode>Convert layers to table.

    I would not use this feature if I were you though as it does generate code that would be much more efficient if written by hand.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Zealot Website Rob's Avatar
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    Layers are on the way out. Tables will always be there.

  6. #6
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Website Rob
    Layers are on the way out. Tables will always be there.
    I tend to disagree. Due to the inaccessibility of tables, the W3C is keen to find a solution that will allow for developers to control the layout of their pages without them. HTML was a language that was meant to separate content from structure from presentation. By using tables for layout we are abusing the intention fo HTML.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Zealot Website Rob's Avatar
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    Being as Layers are a Browser specific tag (for Netscape 4.x only) and are "not" included in any HTML Standards, I don't understand your reference to " W3C being keen to find a solution" since there is no problem - as far as the W3C is concerned? I failed to see where Layers were listed, in the Index of Elements provided by the W3C. Where are you getting your information from Nicky?

    Tables on the other hand, "are" part of HTML Standards (since being introduced by Netscape 2.0) and are understood by 99.9% of the Browsers in use today.

    Netscape 6 does not use/understand Layers and no other version of Netscape (other than the 4.x version) understand/display, Layers properly.

    Also... HTML was never meant to be a language that separates content from layout - XML is designed for that. Which is why we will never see a version 5 of HTML. There "maybe" one more version of HTML 4.x, then that's it. HTML will slowly fade and die out as XML becomes the standard. Which BTW, will/does include Tables.

  8. #8
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    I don't believe that there's any real reason why tables need to be inaccessible. If they're laid out with an eye toward accessibility they shouldn't create problems.

  9. #9
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Website Rob
    Being as Layers are a Browser specific tag (for Netscape 4.x only) and are "not" included in any HTML Standards, I don't understand your reference to " W3C being keen to find a solution" since there is no problem - as far as the W3C is concerned? I failed to see where Layers were listed, in the Index of Elements provided by the W3C. Where are you getting your information from Nicky?

    Tables on the other hand, "are" part of HTML Standards (since being introduced by Netscape 2.0) and are understood by 99.9% of the Browsers in use today.

    Netscape 6 does not use/understand Layers and no other version of Netscape (other than the 4.x version) understand/display, Layers properly.

    Also... HTML was never meant to be a language that separates content from layout - XML is designed for that. Which is why we will never see a version 5 of HTML. There "maybe" one more version of HTML 4.x, then that's it. HTML will slowly fade and die out as XML becomes the standard. Which BTW, will/does include Tables.
    Your correct in saying that the <LAYER> tag is on its way out but LAYERS are not. A <DIV> tag also creates a layer and is part of the HTML 4.0 standard.

    When using the <DIV></DIV> container tags and CSS you will achieve greater precision in your layout with simpler easy to read and translate code than you would with Tables. Layers via the DIV container also load faster and do not contribute to page bloat as tables do.

    Tables were not meant for layout or positioning, Tables were designed for displaying tabular data much like a spreadsheet does. They have been misused for a long time. Misused for design's sake and enabled a lot of beautiful pages but misused nonetheless.

    I have yet to see a pure XML schema support tables. XML is a data container as you said. It has no display properties what so ever. Tables are a type of display so therefore inherently outside the XML specification. Now if you are refering to XHTML, which is an XML compliant form of HTML, then you are correct there are tables included. XHTML is very different than XML. Your data will be displayed as XHTML after going through a transformation process that includes either CSS or XSL. Once done with the process you will be presented with XHTML on PC's, WML on Mobile Devices, and other markup languages depending on the device. This is a true separation of content and presentation.

    Maybe it would do everyone good to review the various specifications at http://www.w3c.org and see how they fit together.
    Wayne Luke
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  10. #10
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Originally posted by psalzer
    I don't believe that there's any real reason why tables need to be inaccessible. If they're laid out with an eye toward accessibility they shouldn't create problems.
    You answered your point directly in your post. What if the user accessing your page effectively doesn't have eyes (i.e. blind) what then? They get an unusable page.
    Wayne Luke
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  11. #11
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    My understanding has always been that software for the visually impaired handles tables, but not straight across. If you lay out your tables like a newspaper, with text in columns, it's not going to work, but if what you put in a cell is able to stand alone, it should be fine. That's a very rough and also bad explanation, but I got it from NetBobby and got an approval, with tables.

    [Edited by psalzer on 11-12-2000 at 11:11 PM]

  12. #12
    SitePoint Zealot Website Rob's Avatar
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    Actually I was correct in saying "Layers" are on the way out, as well as your mention of the <layer></layer> Tag. There is no such thing as "Layers" in any HTML Specification, only in people's minds. What some people think of "Layers" are more correctly stated as Background Attributes.

    Most people for example, are in for a big shock when they view their DHTML pages in Netscape 6! All that "Layering" is going to be so much "mumbo-jumbo" to newer Browsers. Even IE will have to come around to being more HTML/XML complient than what it is now.

    By definition, TABLES are for layout & positioning and I agree that for the most part, are incorrectly used. I'm guilty of that as are most people, but I'm working on it.

    And although the DIV tag may be thought of as a Layer, it is defined as "a generic mechanism for adding structure to documents" by the W3C, and considered a "Block Element" by those of us that code for a living. Mostly due to the fact that the DIV tag creates an empty space after it, same as P or FORM tags do - which are also "Block Elements."

    When psalzer mentioned "an eye toward accessibility" I think the reference was to proper use of TABLES, so that everyone could enjoy/understand, the information contained within. There is an excellent example for the proper use of a TABLE within a DIV, which also properly addresses the accessability issue.

  13. #13
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    I haven't got it on me, it is at work. But I have Tim Berners-Lee's "Weaving the Web". I will have a flick through
    it tomorrow but if I am not mistaken it is in there htat I read about the separation of content from presentation and structure.

    Website Rob - you raised some very valid points. I apologise if I was misunderstood. I never meant to imply that leyers were here to stay, just that I do not think that tables are the solution for laying out our webpages. Not only can they be inaccessible (as already pointed out), but they do not offer the accuracy required for layout purposes. I would like, in the future, see some sort of element (similar to layers) that will allow us to have exact postitioning of objects on a screen. I believe that this can be achieved with layers, but is of course inconsistent and non-browser compatible.

    If anyone is interested, downlaod a trial version of pwWebSpeak, the voice browser, from
    http://www.prodworks.com.

  14. #14
    I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaack! Fluffykins's Avatar
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    Layers are really useful, but i'd tend to stick to tables for now.

    Until that great day prophesised in the bible of web design when both browsers actually display things the same way i'm avoiding anything that can look bad in Netscape.

    My own reason being that all our external visitors, or at least most of them use IE and all our internal machines at set up with NS. Browser compatability is sort of a must round here

    Ady
    v-technologies - Freelance Goodness.


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