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  1. #1
    Confirmed Halfwit
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    Ummm... I've never used layers, but I've been reading about how people use them instead of tables now. Is this right? I'm using Dreamweaver, and went through the tutorial on how they work, but I'm a bit unclear on if these features are supported as well as tables are with the major browsers.

    I hear references like: "I use layers to set up the page, and then I use the 'layers to tables' feature to convert the setup into tables."

    Does this work? Is there an advantage to just farting around with tables and trying to get things working right? (Yes, I am a WYSIWYG person and No, I don't want to use notepad for everything.)

    I guess I'm trying to find out what people use layers for and if they are a "table replacement".

    Thanks very much,
    Henri Straforelli

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  2. #2
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Layers should never be considered a table sreplacement in the first place because tables are not meant to be used for layout purposes. However, many people do use them so we are stuck with them for now.

    Layers are ideal for layout but ATM they are only supported by browsers 4+ and so you would have to be careful when designing your website that people with older browsers could still access it.

    As to designing in layers in Dreamweaver and then converting to tables: what's the point? Try it and have a look at the code, then run away to a corner and cry!


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  3. #3
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    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote/font><HR>Originally posted by Nicky:
    Try it and have a look at the code, then run away to a corner and cry!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    You said it.

    As far as I'm concerned layers should only be used with DHTML. For normal layout, stick with tables.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote/font><HR>Originally posted by Nicky:
    Layers should never be considered a table sreplacement in the first place because tables are not meant to be used for layout purposes. However, many people do use them so we are stuck with them for now.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Tables arn't meant to be used for layout? Well heck, maybe not at first, but back then every site was boring as heck.



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  5. #5
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Tables still aren't meant for presentation. It is a hack. It works and people use it. But it also adds a lot to the complexity and bulk of a page. Layers result in pages that are a lot slimmer and download faster. I agree with Nicky here. There are a lot more presentation oriented tags that are better suited towards layout than Tables ever were.
    The trick is to get people to use them properly.

    Which would you rather create a flyer in MS-Word or MS-Excel??? Same Concept.

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  6. #6
    Confirmed Halfwit
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    Hmmm... So the general thought is:

    Layers are for presentations, tables are for ?? (a presentation hack).

    My question then, is who uses layers and for what? And are we just supposed to wait until 90% of the public uses 4+ browsers and then we'll move from tables to layers for layout?

    I don't think I've seen more than 10 websites use layers. Seems kind of a waste of a great resource. But heh, many people (myself included) still design for 640x480.

    So who uses layers? Anyone?

    Henri Straforelli

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  7. #7
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Tables are for layout of data. The same reason you use tables for in Excel.



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    Wayne Luke - Sitepoint Moderator/Internet Media Developer
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    wluke@digitalmagician.com

  8. #8
    Confirmed Halfwit
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    So when HTML was first developed, what did they expect people to use for laying out their pages?



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  9. #9
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    When HTML was first developed it was intended to be used by scientists and research professors to pass papers back and forth in lieu of email. Layout wasn't a priority or needed. No one expected the World Wide Web to be used for commercial or entertainment endeavors where image means something.

    Heck the Internet in one form or another has been around since the mid-60's and no one took much notice over email, ftp, gopher, wais, archie or any other protocols. Why should HTTP be any different. HTTP did take the world by storm and even though its only a few years old it has changed society forever. It has just taken the markup language time to mature and catch up to the abuse the medium has seen in the last 5 years.

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    Wayne Luke - Sitepoint Moderator/Internet Media Developer
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    wluke@digitalmagician.com

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I agree - layers seems like a waste because noone uses a potentially wonderful resource.

    However, I am really attached to tables, and I can manipulate them wonderfully if I try. As many current web developers have done the same (mastered tables before learning layers) they stick with what they know and the majority of people support.

    Right now, the only way I could see myself using layers is if it was for an intranet website (or networked homepage) where I know all the computers are running under a certain browser. Even then, I would still use tables

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  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    trcfreebies,

    I totally know the feeling...I'm so "used" to tables it would shock me to use anything else...but so be it! If it makes sites in general look better I guess there's no harm...I just hope I cant keep up with it all.



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    Chris Bowyer
    MyCoding.com: Under Construction!
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  12. #12
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    Layers vs Tables

    The standard rule of thumb for most designers when deciding when to use layers vs tables is 25 by 25 table it otherwise layer it. If more than 25 cells in your table layers are the general choice. The reason why is the speed with which a browser will parse out a table vs a layer. If your table has more than 25 cells than maybe you should consider using layers instead. Your pages will display much faster.

    Something you might keep in mind is the resizing issue and how it relates both to tables and layers. When a window is resized you may see different results by layers than you would with a table. In those cases you may opt to choose a table instead of using layers.

    It really depends upon what your trying to develop and what it will be used for. For dynamic pages layers are a much better choice. For static pages that don't change then tables might work better and display faster.

    To handle the various browsers I use a perl script check (just in case they have javascript turned off) then if they do have a 4.0+ browser they get the better web pages. For older browsers I use a similar design layed out by perl script. It functions much the same way but without all the whistles and bells.

    Since the data I wish to display comes from the master database I don't have to worry about content so much. Take a look at the database articles on this site they are pretty good except where database security is concern. For that you will need to look else where. ISS is a good starting point.

    Then I simply deliver CSS and javascript if possible. If not then a perl(and/or PHP) designed page to just handled the page layout then throw the content in as needed.

    Using this manner you can switch between layers or tables as you need depending upon the viewer of those pages. If your really clever and good you can deliver a fast loading page during peak times or when traffic is high. Or you can deliver a more suitable page based upon the viewers download speed, screen size, perfered font.

    SIDE NOTE - Be sure to include a recommendation to your viewer to update their browser and the reasons why. Most will thank you for it later. Be sure to include a accurate link to the browser companies.


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