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Poll: Tables or CSS Positioning for layout?
Reasons have been discussed to no end, but what do you use?
MatthewHSE




msg:1198462
 7:55 pm on Apr 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

In light of the recent activity in another thread [webmasterworld.com], I thought it might be timely to take a quick poll of what methods we all use for layout purposes. Let's assume that CSS is already being used for more basic purposes, such as replacing the <font> tag - let's talk about layout only.

Let's also try to stay clear of our reasons; they've been discussed enough already that I think it's safe to say we'll all automatically understand the reasons behind the votes!

So, short and sweet, what do people use, and when? Remember, no reasons, just simple statements of what method we use! :)

I'll lead off:

As of very recently, I use CSS Positioning as much as possible, but still haven't totally eliminated the use of tables.

 

tedster




msg:1198522
 6:51 pm on Apr 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I can and have built all css layouts - but for now I usually head for the tables. It's a practical matter when keeping a client's project on-budget. I can't afford the extra time to develop kludges for antique browsers like IE6. IE conditionals? You've got to be kidding me!

That said, I keep growing my css layout chops, because some day they will be practical. CSS is a great hobby.

Llama




msg:1198523
 8:45 pm on Apr 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

"If you cant build a site without using tables for layout. Give up."
A bit blunt. Sometimes clients designs (or even your own) require Tables. Sometimes you'll need just one with 2 columns, or just can't get something right with CSS and need quite a few tables.

What's so superior about CSS vs CSS and Tables. I have to say that I'd probably prefer CSS and Tables, if it were about looks, and I couldn't get it with pure CSS. They both involve hacks, but tables are used as a hack that's able to be seen in old browsers.

koocw




msg:1198524
 5:01 am on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm getting used to CSS positioning, because they are the only method that offers liquid positioning, which is useful for cross-platform sites.

WHeights




msg:1198525
 9:47 am on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Never did get the whole "because my clients design needs tables" thing. It all depends on how good you are at what you do. I'm CSS biased because it brings the company into the future and enables them to compete in the present, tables only takes the company back several years - why would they want to fork out a lot of money to be 6 years behind some of its competitors?

Yes, I AM a freelance website developer. If you still need to use tables for your design, then you're doing something wrong.

"I find it much quicker to use tables"

Of course you would, I used to feel that way too. However, I can create CSS layouts faster then I ever could create table based layouts.

Anyways, don't want to turn this poll into a "debate".

mattur




msg:1198526
 12:09 pm on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

It all depends on how good you are at what you do...If you still need to use tables for your design, then you're doing something wrong.

If you cant build a site without using tables for layout. Give up.

Generally speaking, casting aspersions on folks who disagree with your viewpoint makes your case appear weaker, not stronger.

Some other advice:

1. Release the need to be right.
2. Welcome one another's thoughts and opinions.
3. Suspend judgment.
4. Listen for understanding, not rebuttal.
<snip>
...
From http://www.kottke.org/03/10/learning-guidelines [kottke.org]

[edited by: DrDoc at 3:22 pm (utc) on April 28, 2004]
[edit reason] Repaired broken link to source web site. Also, see TOS 10 [/edit]

troels nybo nielsen




msg:1198527
 12:33 pm on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Good and appropriate post, mattur.

Since I learned to use CSS about a year ago I have not used tables for anything but real tabular data. Not until now, at least. My newest website uses tables for something that perhaps *might* be regarded as tabular data, but I tend to believe that it isn't really. I hope to find a more elegant solution. My lack of CSS competence is certainly a problem here.

Birdman




msg:1198528
 1:10 pm on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Both! I don't see anything wrong with one large table for a two/three column layout that will be reliable and easy to create. No hacks, to tweaks, no problemo. For column layouts, I'll bet the code is lighter using a table. Done correctly, that is.

Then, CSS for the rest, unless I run into tabular data ;)

Birdman

Llama




msg:1198529
 9:24 pm on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Both! I don't see anything wrong with one large table for a two/three column layout that will be reliable and easy to create. No hacks, to tweaks, no problemo. For column layouts, I'll bet the code is lighter using a table. Done correctly, that is."
Probably lighter overall, but it still needs to be downloaded every time, and ALL of the table's contents need to be loaded before anything shows up.

And using tables for design is a hack.

boselecta




msg:1198530
 9:53 pm on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Tables. I dont create lots of HTML but when I do have to they work for me just fine. If I thought they were inefficient to code, limiting my design or not cross-browser I would take the trouble to investigate CSS alternatives.

As for the skis - give me a snowboard every time.

isitreal




msg:1198531
 10:11 pm on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Probably lighter overall, but it still needs to be downloaded every time, and ALL of the table's contents need to be loaded before anything shows up.

The last XHTML 1 full CSS site I did using a single simple table for the structure takes roughly 1 second over dialup to load after the js and css is cached in the browser, that's quite a bit faster than the last few complex CSS positioned div layouts I've made, that difference is especially noticeable on slower older pc's. That site was up and running in about 10 hours total, I'm still debugging the last CSS sites I'm doing, and it's been weeks/months on both.

Use the best tool for the job, everyone is happy then.

Sure I see the first part of a positioned div page quickly, then the browser has to work out all that CSS, that usually takes longer than for a clean table layout to fill and display.

BReflection




msg:1198532
 12:53 pm on Apr 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

CSS seems wonderful, but to be honest its not ready for prime time when it comes to a css-only layout. You shouldn't have to spend so much of your valuable time checking for cross-browser compliancy when tables are so soooo easy to set up.

I do of course use it for the things its good at, just not structure.

ronin




msg:1198533
 5:24 pm on Apr 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

When I need to display a table of data, I use tables.
For screen layouts I use CSS.

A good rule of thumb someone mentioned to me the other day - I'm not sure if it always works - is:

"If you were writing the same document in MS Word and you would insert a table, then, obviously, you should use table tags. But if you were creating the document using columns or tabs or inserted images, then, ideally, you should be using CSS-P."

Woz




msg:1198534
 6:08 am on Apr 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

>If you still need to use tables for your design, then you're doing something wrong.

I don't mind being wrong, nor does my bank manager have any complaints.

Onya
Woz

Nick_W




msg:1198535
 6:50 am on Apr 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>I do of course use it for the things its good at, just not structure.

BReflection, forgive me for picking up on that, nothing personal of course but it's a very common view.

The thing is that CSS is NOT difficult to do cross-browser. It hasn't been for 2yrs or more. What people actually find difficult is the concept of having to learn somthing else aswell as tables for layout.

Really, I've been using pure CSS layout for around 2yrs or more, and I, like many others (mainly designers newer to the game I'm guessing) dont have any trouble with it.

The trouble is not with the technology, it's not with the browers, it's just that you havn't learnt how to use it properly. It's not somthing that you can learn in 5 minutes, but nor is it rocket science.

So, for all those that continue to kid themselves that it's not their fault that browsers cant handle CSS and that tables really are the only options: THINK AGAIN!

These people are just kidding themselves, and that's cool, you do it your way, I'll do it mine. But please dont knock CSS just because you havn't understood it properly. ;)

Nick

Woz




msg:1198536
 7:38 am on Apr 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

>It's not somthing that you can learn in 5 minutes

Which is really the only reason I still use a combination of Tables and CSS; purely a Time/Priority issue.

Onya
Woz

WHeights




msg:1198537
 9:40 am on Apr 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

nor does my bank manager have any complaints

Neither does mine lol

But unlike bank managers etc, I don't care about lots of money. I care about giving the customer a standards compliant, fast loading site that enables them to compete in the present AND the future.

As Nick said, you take the tables road.. and i'll take the standards road... "and i'll get to scotland before ye" :P

Sorry for turning that into a song lol

I couldn't honestly care less whether proprietary tags, deprecated tags and the biggest hack of all aka tables are the "cool" thing to do, because they are what we've "always used". I come from the open source/hacker culture, learning is the key to the survival of anything. If you're too lazy to spend more than 5 minutes learning something, then you shouldn't be in your profession.

Tables vs CSS seems to rival religion topics as far as heated debates go :P

maxodyne




msg:1198538
 5:49 pm on Apr 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Still using tables for PHP/MySQL query outputs, but hoping I can use CSS for that eventually. Other than that, 90% of my new developing is in CSS.

mep00




msg:1198539
 11:23 am on Apr 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

maxodyne,
Welcome to WebmasterWorld.

Still using tables for PHP/MySQL query outputs, but hoping I can use CSS for that eventually. Other than that, 90% of my new developing is in CSS.
Query data is often tabular in nature, and therefor, it's what tabels are there for, unless it's only one column, when a list would be better. Once in a while, for two columns you can still use a list (<ol> or <dl>), but more than two columns, tables are the way to go.

Occationally, for query results it might be better to use a list of lists, but that would be an exception.

ktwilight




msg:1198540
 7:15 pm on May 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

for positioning, it depends, on the front i'll just use CSS since it works great with my content. anything complicated i choose tables, since i have more and easier control of the layout... ^^

i find it rather difficult to have cross-browser compatibility when using CSS only layouts... ;-/ i've tried X times and i've never successfully make one, maybe it's just my skills...LOL!

BReflection




msg:1198541
 7:38 pm on May 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Nick_W CSS has clear cut limitations that will not allow it to do things like have a header, 3 columns, and then a footer. This is exactly the kind of layout I use at work. Sure you can maybe get it to work if you throw in some javascript or use 'hacks', but guess what, with tables I don't have to. And they look the same on every browser.

vkaryl




msg:1198542
 1:21 am on May 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Much as I like CSS and am doing my best to implement quality CSS in sites I design, I'm a little disturbed by the apparent "CSS as the new religion" fevered-attitude posted herein....

I don't think anyone should be tub-thumping or rabble-rousing. Reasoned discussion is better if what one has in mind is converting the other guy's POV....

Noisehag




msg:1198543
 3:38 am on May 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, having finished my first successful "old-world website" re-design in pure css, I'd have to go with css. Despite the numerous walls I ran into while trying to get it to work properly, the end result is amazing. The content is sequential, easy to read and validates np, where as tables sometimes get the content scattered all over the place (as we all know).

But, in playing around with different ideas, I found that small tables offered a quick solution to problems I spent way too much time working to resolve in css. I can alway go back and re-visit them when I'm not sleeping well...

Llama




msg:1198544
 6:51 am on May 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

I absolutely love CSS, but can't wait untill they have it so that you can create columns easier. Be even better if you could place each column in the code where you want, instead of being forced to have column one, then column 2, then column three in the code, like you are with tables.

mep00




msg:1198545
 8:37 am on May 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Be even better if you could place each column in the code where you want
You can do that now:

#col1 {width : 10em; float : left}
#col2 {margin-right : 11em; margin-left : 11em}
#col3 {width : 10em; float : right}
...
<body>
<div id="col2">...</div>
<div id="col3">...</div>
<div id="col1">...</div>

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