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  1. #1
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    Forums -- tables or no tables?

    Do you think forums are better off with tables or without? I think that the board index should use tables while everything else should use divs and lists. What do you think?

  2. #2
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    If it contains tabular data then it is a table. If it doesn't contain tabular data it is not a table. Use the correct semantic markup in the HTML.

    If you want to use tables for layout then use CSS table commands instead of HTML ones. Unfortunately though IE7 and earlier will then not display the page correctly as support for layout tables was only introduced in IE8.
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  3. #3
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    That is more or less what I was asking. What part of a forum is actually tabular. I think only the main board index where it shows the name, topics, posts, etc... is actually tabular data. Everything else, like the actual posts, seems like it should be a div.

  4. #4
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    There is no clear boundary line beetween tabular and non-tabular data and some people put the line in different places. I agree with you that only the main board index is tabular and posts are not.
    Stephen J Chapman

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  5. #5
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    There is no clear boundary line beetween tabular and non-tabular data
    I'm having trouble figuring out how to use a table semantically correct. It seems everyone hates tables so much that I can't find a decent resource that shows how they should be used properly like I could for almost any other element.

    I can't really figure out what to do with the forum groups.

    vBulletin places the forum groups all in one table; however, it has that divider that spans all the columns to show the name of the group. I don't think that is semantically correct.

    IPboard uses a separate table for each group of forums; however, it seems like since all the data is similar that it should be in the same table.

    This is important because screen readers need an ID for cells for the headers attribute and having more than one table makes the ID tags a little goofy.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tailslide's Avatar
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    In my opinion, data can be considered tabular data if you can turn it 90 degrees and it still makes sense.

    As far as marking up the table itself - there's quite a bit of info out there such as: http://www.usability.com.au/resources/tables.cfm. Just google "accessible tables".

    I haven't looked into the forum issue closely but from what you've said, personally I think I'd have different tables for different groups of forums - that way people can navigate to one particular area more easily - otherwise it'd be a case of wading through the lot to find the bit you want. Different tables, marked up correctly using captions.
    Little Blue Plane Web Design
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for the link. That was what I was looking for in terms of how to properly use a table.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Enthusiast cssiscool's Avatar
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    the good thing about using tables throughout your page is when someone turns off your style sheet everything on your page will pretty much stay where you originally put it.

    turn off the style sheet in a page with all divs and everything in your page displays downward on the page like it did in HTML 3.2.

    Click here http://dwight.clickthesky.com/ and turn off the style sheets for an example of this.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tailslide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cssiscool View Post

    turn off the style sheet in a page with all divs and everything in your page displays downward on the page like it did in HTML 3.2.

    Click here http://dwight.clickthesky.com/ and turn off the style sheets for an example of this.
    Which is exactly what it should do.

    Tables are for tabular data only. Everything else should be in it's correct semantic structure - lists, paragraphs etc etc.
    Little Blue Plane Web Design
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  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tyssen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    If you want to use tables for layout then use CSS table commands instead of HTML ones.
    'Tables for layout' is universally accepted as referring to using HTML table tags. Using display: table CSS properties (not commands) is not using tables for layout; it's using CSS for layout.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Enthusiast cssiscool's Avatar
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    Yes I know pages are better off written in CSS than tables for people with handicaps that visit your page. They might even load faster than tables. But someone needs to invent a way to prevent the visitor from overridding you Style Sheet so your pages won't look like 5 miles of bad road when the CSS is turned off.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by cssiscool View Post
    But someone needs to invent a way to prevent the visitor from overridding you Style Sheet so your pages won't look like 5 miles of bad road when the CSS is turned off.
    You don't seem to understand. If a user wants to override your style sheet, he or she should be allowed to do so. They probably have a very good reason for it, and there's no way you, as the designer, can anticipate every need for every potential visitor.

    Therefore you can only use CSS to provide hints about how you'd like things to look. But it's the user who has the ultimate power. That's how it should be. If you want total control you should work with print design, not web design.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Ah, when I started writing my first tables, I did find the accessibility site, and then ended up bookmarking some other pages like
    http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/struct/tables.html
    cause most of XHTML follows HTML in this regard

    http://www.ferg.org/section508/accessible_tables.html
    This was invaluable in explaining how to use the stuff like "headers" and "scope" correctly, for me... and I they cleared up a misunderstanding too. Invaluable. Esp the explanation on both how to use Axis and how it doesn't even do anything anyway, which the specs don't say : )

    http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-HTML-TECHS/
    cause it's the accessibility part, again

    http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/WD-xhtml2-...od-tables.html
    Just so I could check what was still valid in XHTML as that was what I was using (okay okay, "fake" XHTML, but still the same syntax).

    I have ended up with quite large (code-wise) but beautiful tables, with a semi-interactive calendar (thx to Christian for getting the workings a push). Just need to get keyboard focus to work in IE : (


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