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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru CompiledMonkey's Avatar
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    I had an epiphany today...

    Seeing as I do some web development, I've been checking out XHTML and CSS for awhile now. I've got the basics of CSS down and XHTML really isn't that much different from HTML. I was doing some reading on the web about CSS and came across an article of a guy redoing the Slashdot site (the main page for the demo) in true XHTML and CSS. He showed the different phases of redoing the site which was a first for me. What I found so interesting was the XHTML was just written with absolutely no style at all. The style sheet had every line of markup. I was truly amazed. Typically I carry most of my style in the stylesheet, but I still use tables to line up specific cells of information. I think I'm going to try and redo my current website in true XHTML/CSS.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict KelliShaver's Avatar
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    I've started doing all of my websites like that, and once you get used to the change, it's soooooo much easier and faster (and neater).

    I don't even use tables at all now for layout purposes... for tabular data that needs to be organized, sure, but not for layout elements.

  3. #3
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    It's the only way to go nowadays... considering it's the correct way to write markup and we should have been doing it years ago.

    I liked the article's approach to writing code the right way. You aren't just wrapping text and images in a bunch of boxes... good coders understand the theory behind writing the markup. You approach designing a page through steps. First you mark it up in a way that effectively represents the relationships between the different elements, then you apply style, then you apply structure.
    So I says to him, I says, Hey! Llama! How about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know?

  4. #4
    SitePoint Guru CompiledMonkey's Avatar
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    Here is what I have so far: http://www.compiledmonkey.com/new/

    I haven't exactly figured out how I'm going to place the navigation like I want or get the content div to align to the left, but I feel like I'm making progress.

  5. #5
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    Cool

    Hm. Yeah, I use XHTML when I'm designing sites and poo, but I'm still a little hesitant on using CSS. Do people even use Netscape 4.7X anymore? Haha
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  6. #6
    The knight who said ni! RockyShark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CompiledMonkey
    I was doing some reading on the web about CSS and came across an article of a guy redoing the Slashdot site (the main page for the demo) in true XHTML and CSS. He showed the different phases of redoing the site which was a first for me.
    Any chance of a link to that article, CompiledMonkey?

  7. #7
    Wanna-be Apple nut silver trophy M. Johansson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuyoen
    Hm. Yeah, I use XHTML when I'm designing sites and poo, but I'm still a little hesitant on using CSS. Do people even use Netscape 4.7X anymore? Haha
    It's just above 1%, according to thecounter.com. I would not worry about it if you feel that your or your client feels that you can lose one in every 100 customers is worth the savings in development time.

    It's the only way to go nowadays... considering it's the correct way to write markup and we should have been doing it years ago.
    No! [table-less XHTML layouts] is not the only way to go, and no, we definetly shouldn't have done it years ago. Don't follow the latest trends without thinking more about it. Web developers are way too eager to use XHTML/CSS at the expense of their clients.

    First, by "years" I'm assuming you mean at least two. In December 2001, NS4 was at 4%, IE4 was at 5%, IE5 was used by 68% and IE6 was at 19%. Hardly an ideal platform for table-less layouts.

    In may this year, IE5 was still at 34%. Try doing complex CSS layouts in IE5 and you are in for a world of pain, and so are your visitors. It's possible to do, of course, but it's much easier to just do it with tables.

    Now, table-less layouts definetly has their place (lots of places, in fact), but saying that they are "the only way to go" is not true.
    Mattias Johansson
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  8. #8
    Ensure you finish what you sta bronze trophy John Colby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M. Johansson
    No! [table-less XHTML layouts] is not the only way to go, and no, we definetly shouldn't have done it years ago. Don't follow the latest trends without thinking more about it. Web developers are way too eager to use XHTML/CSS at the expense of their clients.
    I'm definately at odds with Mattias here. Quote from http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/ - Web Content Accessibility guideines

    "Misusing markup for a presentation effect (e.g., using a table for layout or a header to change the font size) makes it difficult for users with specialized software to understand the organization of the page or to navigate through it."

    IMHO there is very little justification for using tables for presentation - the same effects can be achieved much more accessibly without their use. I work with users of speech browsers who have difficulties in interpreting the codge that comes out of some tabled layout. Use tables for tabular data by all means but not for markup convenience.
    John
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  9. #9
    Just Blow It bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockyShark
    Any chance of a link to that article, CompiledMonkey?
    http://www.alistapart.com/articles/slashdot/ is the article in question.
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  10. #10
    Wanna-be Apple nut silver trophy M. Johansson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Colby
    I'm definately at odds with Mattias here. Quote from http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/ - Web Content Accessibility guideines

    "Misusing markup for a presentation effect (e.g., using a table for layout or a header to change the font size) makes it difficult for users with specialized software to understand the organization of the page or to navigate through it."

    First of all, I FULLY AGREE with you on all accounts here. Table-layouts are a misuse of HTML. It also makes it difficult form users with specialized software to understand the architecture of the page. XHTML/CSS is much better on all accounts. No doubt about that. No siree.

    The problem is that people have not upgraded their browsers yet.
    Simple as that.

    Most XHTML/CSS layouts I've seen screw up in older browsers that are still being used on the market. While this is fine for my own sites, I cannot justify doing this for a clients site. I might make my page look better on speech browsers and PDA browsers and tend to that minority, but at the same time, I have screwed up the page for IE5 users.

    Until IE has at least a 90% penetration, I'm of the opinion that users with so specialized browsing devices (such as speech, PDA and SmartPhone browsers) should recieve special treatment and be presented with customized version of your site.

    IMHO there is very little justification for using tables for presentation - the same effects can be achieved much more accessibly without their use. I work with users of speech browsers who have difficulties in interpreting the codge that comes out of some tabled layout. Use tables for tabular data by all means but not for markup convenience.
    Tables work very well in 99%+ of browsers used on the market today - something that cannot be said for table-less layouts (other than very simple ones). That is not "very little justification" to use it.
    Mattias Johansson
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  11. #11
    The knight who said ni! RockyShark's Avatar
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    I believe there is no absolute rule here. As Mattias said, while tableless layouts are better than tabled layouts for many reasons, if most of your visitors are using older browsers then a modern CSS layout is a bad idea.

    Actually - there is an absolute rule - approach each project individually and design accordingly.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Addict sdamos's Avatar
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    I totally agree with RockyShark.

    Actually - there is an absolute rule - approach each project individually and design accordingly.
    Our site took in a lot of money last month, I would be interested to see how much it would have been if I had laid it out in CSS. Our customers use really old browsers. It is an absolute must that it be done with tables. However, I am redoing the site right now and using a few newer techniques. But, the layout itself is still tables.

    I know little about CSS, but the little I do know I can see how much easier a site is to manage using CSS, but I just cannot sacrifice the business for it.
    Last edited by sdamos; Dec 5, 2003 at 21:16.

  13. #13
    Vermicious Knid moncur's Avatar
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    I'm currently redesigning my most popular site. I just looked at the statistics and we still have almost 5% of the visitors using IE 5.0x, along with 1% or so using Netscape 4.x. So table-less layouts are not going to be in this year's model, I think.

  14. #14
    Ensure you finish what you sta bronze trophy John Colby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moncur
    I'm currently redesigning my most popular site. I just looked at the statistics and we still have almost 5% of the visitors using IE 5.0x, along with 1% or so using Netscape 4.x. So table-less layouts are not going to be in this year's model, I think.
    Have you examined the techniques and, to get over the inconsistencies in IE5, the hacks that you can apply to make CSS work in these diminishing browsers?
    John
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  15. #15
    Vermicious Knid moncur's Avatar
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    I don't believe in CSS hacks. If I am going to do something non-standard and ugly, it may as well be tables, which are at least guaranteed to work consistently.

    Anyway, the Netscape and IE 4.x users are a show-stopper.

    I may end up with a table-free layout and a table one and a server-side app switching between the two, but that sounds like way too much work.

  16. #16
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moncur
    I don't believe in CSS hacks. If I am going to do something non-standard and ugly, it may as well be tables, which are at least guaranteed to work consistently.

    Anyway, the Netscape and IE 4.x users are a show-stopper.
    Is this really a non-standard hack? (see below)
    Code:
    #div1 {
      width: 450px;
    }
    #div2 {
      border: 1px solid silver;
      padding: 10px;
    }
    HTML Code:
    <div id="div1">
    <div id="div2">
    <p>Text</p>
    </div>
    </div>
    Works in nearly every browser I've ever worked with. NN4 ignores the padding, but that's really about it.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Guru DCS's Avatar
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    I think the web design community has become rather anal and obsessive with this no table layout issue.

    Since implementing CSS I have done completely tableless and a hybrid using CSS positioning and some table layout with very minimal table use. Reserving the tableless for the most simple layouts. I must say the hybrid works quite well and have even maintained intended layout on some designs for the dreaded NS4.7. NS did not work with some of the CSS of course but that was things that were no critial to the site's functionality and appearance.

    I have spoken with some of the big name CSS gurus as I was guilty of this obsession as well and they all have said to me that to meet your objectives (layout, browser compatability, etc.) there is nothing wrong with some table use due to current state of CSS and browsers.

    The main thing is to get away from the old blank spacer cells and use tableless whenever you can.

    The WWW3 has for all intents and purposes admitted that CSS2 is far from perfect, that's why specs for CSS3 are being drawn up to address the multi-column layout.

    Don't worry it will eventually get there but until then do what you can and don't give yourself ulcers trying to make something work that is not quite ready for prime time yet.

  18. #18
    Wanna-be Apple nut silver trophy M. Johansson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCS
    I think the web design community has become rather anal and obsessive with this no table layout issue.
    Quoted for truth.
    Mattias Johansson
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  19. #19
    Ensure you finish what you sta bronze trophy John Colby's Avatar
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    As http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/ says

    Tables should be used to mark up truly tabular information ("data tables"). Content developers should avoid using them to lay out pages ("layout tables"). Tables for any use also present special problems to users of screen readers (refer to checkpoint 10.3).
    So far no-one's given me a reason [b]for[/]b using non-data tables in layout-table based layouts other than it's occasionally easier. Using tables I believe gives more problems as the graceful degradation of display is required. The challenge is to get round the problem, not let the problem get round you.

    In short, the use of layout-tables is holding back development, both at a web and personal level, for sites and people - rising to the challenge will make people better developers. That's with my educationalist hat on.
    John
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  20. #20
    The knight who said ni! RockyShark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Colby
    That's with my educationalist hat on.
    As an educationalist John, you probably have a few more luxuries than the rest of us in the "real world". No-one's arguing that table-less is the way of the future, there are still times when tabled layouts are the most practical solution to adopt. There is no point in having a commercial website that academically appeases but displays incorrectly for your customers. That just makes no sense! And if 10% of my target audience happens to use NN4 and 0.01% use a screen reader, then sorry, but I'mm gonna use a table.

    (Figures plucked out of the air for illustrative purposes.)


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