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  1. #26
    SitePoint Addict xDev's Avatar
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    The biggest problem with full-on CSS-driven site design is the learning curve. I've been building CSS tableless designs for well over a year and I still get frustrated and feel like giving up. Usually its a minor issue with IE though. What do I do? I come here and ask for help. It usually goes something like add 1% height to this div here, or use the * html hack, put in position: relative in this here element and IE will play ball! For a newbie, though, it can be pretty overwhelming and I sympathize.

    I can also remember my nested table extravaganza days and looking back I had just as many head-banging sessions as I do with CSS design. Why isn't this td valigned when I told it too, why does this cell wrap even after I've set the nowrap attribute, why is the bottom curve image 10px below my footer content, what is causing this unknown whitespace and on and on. I remember them headaches as well. I also remember how long it took to do even minor changes to the confabulated code. Site-wide changes were akin to going to the dentist, I loathed it with a passion. Imagine changing the whole colour scheme on a site that has over a hundred pages of content that was designed with tables and only minimal CSS 1 for fonts. How much time would that take? Try months, I've did it before and its not fun. The same thing could be accomplished in hours with CSS, maybe even less. Perhaps as little as minutes or seconds, depending on how clean your markup is.

    Use it every day, experiment with different layouts and styles, become familiar with every option available in the language to the point of memorization. Keep a CSS cheet sheet handy as well, it will aid tremendously. When a problem arises I recommend googling for an answer as opposed to coming straight to the forums. Use these forums as a last result, when all else fails. That way you can learn from experience rather than having a ready-made solution handed to you on a silver platter
    Last edited by xDev; Jun 30, 2004 at 07:22.

  2. #27
    SitePoint Addict will_'s Avatar
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    To answer the original question, yes, in most cases CSS is cleaner. CSS allows you to yank out all of the style from your code, leaving simple (X)HTML tags. This inherently allows the page to load faster, and makes reading/editing your code much easier since you aren't trying to wade through loads of <td> and <tr> tags.

    As for someone mentioning 'getting used to hacks' when using CSS, let's not forget that table-based layout in itself is one big hack.

  3. #28
    there is no box baztorres's Avatar
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    I beleive that CSS is far easier and cleaner to use. I have only realy been creating web sites for the past few months and have automatically seen the power of CSS to create the style and then just keep all the content in HTML file. Much nicer and faster way to create sites.
    Baz
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  4. #29
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    I'm responding as someone who is still torn between tables and CSS. I love the flexibility of tables and the staggering layouts and designs they can produce. However, there is something very appealing about seeing your page size shrink as you convert to XHTML and CSS.

    Undoubtedly it does produce much cleaner code. The question is, who cares that your code is "cleaner", other than you and a few CSS die-hards?

  5. #30
    SitePoint Addict will_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SniperX
    Undoubtedly it does produce much cleaner code. The question is, who cares that your code is "cleaner", other than you and a few CSS die-hards?
    How about the dial-up user who sees your page much faster because it is cleaner and less weighty?

    Or the person using a text browser or screen reader or PDA or other 'non-traditional' browsing device?

  6. #31
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SniperX
    Undoubtedly it does produce much cleaner code. The question is, who cares that your code is "cleaner", other than you and a few CSS die-hards?
    cleaner code is easier to maintain and easier to repurpose.

    same question could be asked about things like programming (which was touched on before in this thread): "who cares if botched, ad-hoc, spaghetti code is not clean ? only people looking at a program's source code will care." ... and that's the mentality that leads to things like Windows

    seriously, even on small projects, investing a bit of extra effort initially and getting a good clean separation of content and presentation can cut down maintenance and redevelopment time considerably.

    if saving time and making your life (and the life of anybody else who may need to work on the code in future) easier is not your cup of tea, just suit yourself.
    re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
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  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by will_
    How about the dial-up user who sees your page much faster because it is cleaner and less weighty?

    Or the person using a text browser or screen reader or PDA or other 'non-traditional' browsing device?
    Sorry, which case are you arguing here? The case for cleaner code or the case for accessibility. The question was about cleaner code, not standards or accessibility. (Not to say that you can't meet both with tables too.)

    As for 56k users - that is becoming as little a valid argument as is designing for Netscape 4.x

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    cleaner code is easier to maintain and easier to repurpose.
    if saving time and making your life (and the life of anybody else who may need to work on the code in future) easier is not your cup of tea, just suit yourself.
    As I've asked a couple of questions here before relating to CSS and XHTML, one of which you yourself have kindly answered, you must know that clearly it is "my cup of tea", as my entire site is being converted to CSS and XHTML.

    This doesn not mean that I follow the "Must use CSS Only, Must use CSS Only" path blindly, without question, without seeing its limitations, and with delightfully rose coloured glasses sitting upon my nose.

    I just really struggle to see a visitor visiting a site saying "Oh, I wish they had converted this site to all CSS. It would be so much better." However, they are very quick to notice layout faults which would be present in CSS, were it not for having to hack around them. Since when did hacks become the great signal of "cleaner" code?

  9. #34
    SitePoint Addict will_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SniperX
    Sorry, which case are you arguing here? The case for cleaner code or the case for accessibility. The question was about cleaner code, not standards or accessibility. (Not to say that you can't meet both with tables too.)
    They all go hand in hand, so I'm arguing the case of all three

    And I already answered the original question above; here I was just responding to your question.

    Quote Originally Posted by SniperX
    As for 56k users - that is becoming as little a valid argument as is designing for Netscape 4.x
    Last I heard, over 50% of users were still on dial-up:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4772589/

    http://www.websiteoptimization.com/bw/0406/

  10. #35
    SitePoint Addict Huscy's Avatar
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    Or the person using a text browser or screen reader or PDA or other 'non-traditional' browsing device?
    this kind of depends on your target audience, f/example someone browsing my photoshop tutorials wouldnt do so on a PDA, for the simple reason that they couldnt DO them

    also someone said 'css hacks arent that bad, because table-layout is one big hack' - just because one is bad doesnt mean the other one is good because it uses hacks to a lesser extent

    that said i am currently recoding my site with xhtml 1.0 strict, using PHP OOP techniques, and have everything organised properly, and my databases completely normalised - so whilst i do appreciate the benefits of said things, there are some downsides (OOP's being slowness, CSS being.. well IE etc.)

  11. #36
    SitePoint Zealot moagw's Avatar
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    As for 56k users - that is becoming as little a valid argument as is designing for Netscape 4.x
    What?? you mean there is something faster than 56K?? as has been mentioned, your comment is flawed in an obvious way. Unless you are designing for someone in your neighborhood (since not all areas can have broadband yet), who uses the computer often enough to justify paying the extra $$ to do so faster I think that is just a really short sighted way of looking at something.

  12. #37
    SitePoint Guru DCS's Avatar
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    I don't think the initial question was ever really answered here but rather turned into a table/no table discussion.

    Huscy forget the table talk and look at something more basic to answer your question.

    Take for instance:
    <font face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">A paragraph of some text in the page.</font>

    or:

    <p>A paragraph of some text in the page.</p>

    Which one is cleaner?

    Now consider the fact that the look of <p> is controlled by your style sheet you can change every instance of that in your site by changing that one CSS file rather than going in and changing each of those <font> tags. And don't forget with CSS you now have control over things you never could control before like leading and kerning (just a small part of what you can do) and it really starts to make sense!

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by moagw
    Unless you are designing for someone in your neighborhood (since not all areas can have broadband yet), who uses the computer often enough to justify paying the extra $$ to do so faster I think that is just a really short sighted way of looking at something.
    I hear the same sort of response from those who still ride the merry-go-round of designing for Netscape 4. Plenty of people still use it, I hear.

    Of course they do -- because the designers are still, in a large part, still designing for it as a result of some myth that they 'need' to. While they are designing for it, there is no need for the users to give it up and so it goes, around and around. I know a University where the developers grumble because the students use old NS browsers, forcing them to code differently to what they would like to do. Instead, they should be coding in todays methods and encourage the students to upgrade their browsers. It's complete and utter madness.

    However, I concede that broadband isn't available in all areas -- yet. But hey, there isn't a McDonalds near me either. I don't demand that the local restuarants sell burgers. They sell what they believe is right for their client base; rightly so. Telephones weren't immediately available in all areas either. It didn't stop them being installed instantly where they could be. Those who couldn't have them, well, as is common in life, they had to wait.

    I grow tired of this mode of thought which dictates we have to design or code to the lowest common demominator. Complete madness that hinders progress. There are starving people in Africa, should we all starve until they 'catch up'?

  14. #39
    Custom User Text tonyskyday's Avatar
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    The town/county I live isn't even big enough to have a single traffic light, but we have several broadband options, including DSL, Cable, and Wireless "Portable" broadband.

    Now, whether or not most people in the county are taking advantage of that, or see the value in it, is another question.

  15. #40
    SitePoint Zealot moagw's Avatar
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    Those who couldn't have them, well, as is common in life, they had to wait.
    So, if I have $100 bucks (I don't just saying..) and want to buy/donate to your site/cause/product, you wouldn't design for what another person said was over 50% of the users that may be in that category? I agree that we should push forward, and if you are running a site for the heck of it, why not. Do what you want, how you want, and don't worry about traffic/income.. do it YOUR way. But to do that you lose a lot (remember the post, over 50%) of potential traffic/customers. Or is that "madness"?

  16. #41
    SitePoint Member zdislaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SniperX
    I hear the same sort of response from those who still ride the merry-go-round of designing for Netscape 4. Plenty of people still use it, I hear.

    ...

    I grow tired of this mode of thought which dictates we have to design or code to the lowest common demominator. Complete madness that hinders progress. There are starving people in Africa, should we all starve until they 'catch up'?
    The two situations are not parallel. Your example of browser compatibility is just a matter of what free browser someone has chosen to install. The "broadband or not" issue involves COST (as well as availability and preference) and is totally different in that regard. Also, someone without a broadband connection and just uses the Internet to check their email and maybe browse some news sites is not likely to spend the time needed to download a new browser when their old one does what they need it to. Maybe they should, but I'm not going to eliminate them as an audience jsut because they've chosen not to.

    And your starving people arguement...well, let's just say you probably could have come up with something better, and leave it at that.
    Tim
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  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by moagw
    But to do that you lose a lot (remember the post, over 50%) of potential traffic/customers. Or is that "madness"?
    I am perhaps in a fortunate position where I don't have to look that widely. How many serious Photoshoppers would come to my site with a 56K connection?

    As one poster has already said, I guess it's horses for courses, and my course does not lay well for 56K users. By the same token, I hate going to sites that have made things so sparse in their quest to achieve 'CSS or bust' that it's just dull to look at. That turns people away too you know?

  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by zdislaw
    And your starving people arguement...well, let's just say you probably could have come up with something better, and leave it at that.
    Excuse me? Am I the subject of the debate here now? I don't believe I am. If my view differs from that of your own, learn to deal with it. Don't start to get personal just because of it.

    I'm pretty sure I could rife through your previous posts and find what I could consider to be questionable responses. However, that would be petty, wouldn't it?

  19. #44
    SitePoint Zealot moagw's Avatar
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    I agree with you on EVERYTHING in that post SniperX.. If someone can afford Photoshop, they can most certainly afford broadband, as long as it is offered. And They certainly would either EXPECT delays or avoid your site when trapped to a 56K connection.
    The vogue of using CSS has like all other trends (maybe changes is a better word..) in programming/development. It attracts some people that lose the scope of "attractive" design, and go for "simple" design. Both can exist, and frequently do, but I find it depressing to see a site use that technology and not really try to make it attractive. You gotta pull people in. If a page is all white BG, and no images just unformatted text, I wouldn't read it.. unless it was the only result in google.. LOL!

  20. #45
    SitePoint Addict will_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moagw
    I agree with you on EVERYTHING in that post SniperX.. If someone can afford Photoshop, they can most certainly afford broadband, as long as it is offered. And They certainly would either EXPECT delays or avoid your site when trapped to a 56K connection.
    The vogue of using CSS has like all other trends (maybe changes is a better word..) in programming/development. It attracts some people that lose the scope of "attractive" design, and go for "simple" design. Both can exist, and frequently do, but I find it depressing to see a site use that technology and not really try to make it attractive. You gotta pull people in. If a page is all white BG, and no images just unformatted text, I wouldn't read it.. unless it was the only result in google.. LOL!
    Keep in mind that Photoshop is one of the most heavily pirated pieces of software out there, so don't think that because people have Photoshop, they likely have broadband.

    And please don't lump CSS sites into the "simple, sparse, and boring" category. Taken a look at www.csszengarden.com lately?

    The fact of the matter is a site's style should not get in the way of it's function, regardless of whether it's built with tables or css. If the site's function is to be stylish and graphicly rich, as is the case in SniperX's site, so be it. If the site's function is to present a definition of a word, heavy use of Photoshop is not likely needed.

    I think this conversation is starting to repeat the endlessly treaded circular path.

  21. #46
    Custom User Text tonyskyday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will_
    And please don't lump CSS sites into the "simple, sparse, and boring" category. Taken a look at www.csszengarden.com lately?
    Look at espn.com, it is table-less css design also (though it doesn't validate), it is quite visually complicated and overflowing with information. Definitely not "simple, sparse, and boring."

    -Tony

  22. #47
    SitePoint Addict will_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyskyday
    Look at espn.com, it is table-less css design also (though it doesn't validate), it is quite visually complicated and overflowing with information. Definitely not "simple, sparse, and boring."

    -Tony
    Word. My point exactly.

  23. #48
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    I don't think anyone will argue font tags and embedded colors for everything is a good idea. CSS is great for maintaining the look and feel of your site. But it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to the layout.

    I tired to give up my table based layout a year ago, and the CSS hacks were so ugly to me, I couldn't stand it. What I can do with a simple table, took me hours of research to accomplish with CSS, and I ended up with really ugly hacks (empty divs to get things to float correctly etc...).

    And don't get me started on the "blame the browser" argument, when a site doesn't lay out correctly. A lot of purist CSS sites blame the browser when their sites don't lay out correctly in an obscure browser like, oh, internet explorer. What year is this, 1996 (best viewed 640x480 in netscape 3.1 blah blah blah)?

    I code for the user, and most users like IE. I make sure my sites look good in that browser. With tables, they end up looking good most everywhere else too.

  24. #49
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SniperX
    I hear the same sort of response from those who still ride the merry-go-round of designing for Netscape 4. Plenty of people still use it, I hear.
    ...
    I grow tired of this mode of thought which dictates we have to design or code to the lowest common demominator. Complete madness that hinders progress.
    funnily enough, using a completely css driven layout can work even for those lepers that use Netscape 4. yes, it won't look pretty, but they can still access the information on the site without any problem. it's called graceful degradation.
    of course if your mindset is stuck with pixel-precise layouts that render exactly the same across all browsers, then yes, it's a lowest common denominator issue.

    speaking of progress: using tables for layout is not progress. using css layouts certainly is.
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  25. #50
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by driver
    I tired to give up my table based layout a year ago, and the CSS hacks were so ugly to me, I couldn't stand it. What I can do with a simple table, took me hours of research to accomplish with CSS, and I ended up with really ugly hacks (empty divs to get things to float correctly etc...).
    i get by with pretty much no hacks at all. proper planning and a good understanding of css is essential. and yes, IE is happy with all the code i use as well. surprising, isn't it?
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