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Unless I misunderstand your question, the solution is quite simple really, and that is to set you table width to a percentage rather than a fixed pixel width. So by setting a width of 100% the table will always fill the screen no matter what resolution. I generally use 95% myself to leave a little space around the table but that is personal preference.
Is that what you meant??
we do it so that everybody with a 640 or over screen dont need to scroll - (this leaves out webtv i think unfortunately)
also research suggests that people do not like to read more than 5 to 7 words in every line.. thats why newspapers are printed in columns... a 640 limit provides some guard against long lines, expecially if you use a 2 column format like we do.
Further, the generous use of white space makes reading more relaxed, so for higher resolutions, the "waste of space" tends to have a concommittent benefit as well.
People that come from a publishing and laypout backgound use the pixel restrained wideth rather than % a lot because they like the control. We do it, but are aware that it seems to go against the idea of the web standards, that good code should display itself best as possible in any resolution and screen width/length, without being constrained by layout considerations developed in the traditional print media. Its a pity we cant have the best of both worlds, but maybe one day we will.
Only problem is when the majority start using really wide screens in the 1600 and over... then we will have to revise and change all the pixel length strings...
dont know any way to solve your porblem digital, but suggest it's not a real bad problem considering the advvantages.
It depends of course on the type of site. I must admit that the majority of work I am doing at the moment is information sites and directories and search functions, but I find with some foresight % is OK and you can control the ratios and minimums quite easily.
What I do is proportion my columns as a mixture of % and pix for the ratios and then have a blank row of cells with a clear gif in each set to the minimum size I will allow that column to shrink to.
Its simple stufff and I am probably teaching people to suck eggs but it works fine for me.
We're going to have more problems that column and table widths at those resolutions. Our nice 220p and 320p width/height photos look like postage stamps. A standard IAB small button is going to appear to be little more than a punctation mark. I see no long-term solution except resolution-sniffing and swapping page elements, or even redirecting to different layouts.
It has nothing to do with layout considerations developed in print. The issue is designers having the freedom to place elements of different sizes in a layout which relate to each other in a meaningful way that aids user comprehension. To simplify: designers want their pages to always look the same because the sizes, shapes and positions of things MEAN SOMETHING.
Percentage tables do not preserve these relationships. Theonly thing that comes close yet is Flash which gives you the option of re-sizing the entire page and everything in it equally.
Very well spoken.
I've often struggled to express my feeling about this, and you have said it plainly.
The oft-repeated ideal that page layout needs to adapt to any screen resolution is rather "purist" and not realistic, unless the site is basically a text communication. Even then, other practical matters (such as readability) have great influence.
HTML is conceived as (and even named) a mark-up language. That is, the assumption is that a document exists previously, and is now being "marked up" for display in a browser.
The truth is most that many web documents are created explicitly for the web. They're not adaptations of documents that existed previously -- so the metaphor of "mark up" is a bit strained.
We're really struggling to create a "layout language", and CSS is the first step in such a direction, as flawed as support may be right now. People want and need the web to be many, many different things, all at once.
Yes, Flash and PDF address these issues to a degree, but they each introduce trade-offs and limitations that can be hard to take, such as bookmarking and searchability.
We're in the early years of a whole new medium, and the growing pains are intense. Those pains probably will be with us for a while longer, and overly idealistic or purist approaches will not be the final answer.
I feel VERY contrained with web layout though. Can't make the graphics too big, got to make sure it's readable no matter what the monitor size, can't choose any unusual fonts without making them graphics, have to make sure the users with ridiculous font size setting on their browsers will still see something vaguely resembling your original intent...
You've got to make every single design move for maximum flexibility and minimum load time, with the knowledge that when the wrong browser/platform/monitor shows up, all your work will go to h*ll anyway...
Don't even get me started on color depth and monitor/platform variances...
I'm a recent convert to the wonders of CSS. I now revert to using CSS anytime I have any issues with exact placement on a page. I'm sure it would work in your case as well. It didn't take me very long at all to become familiar with it.
Here's a great thread on CSS and contains some links on the how to's, etc.
Good Luck! :)
If you have a standard 2 or three colum layout with menu left, content center and possibly promo or menu on the right, it is pretty easy to control the layout. Use a fixed width for the left and the right td of the main table at 120-160, and then let the center section go undefined or at a percentage. Opera, IE, and NN will flow that center td correctly. I often throw another table in the center td which seems to work better with netscape. It is the best of all worlds: good looking at 640 as well as 2000 wide.
When im browsing i never set the browser window to more about 800 pixels.
I really dont want to read a couple sentances that span the enitre width of the screen, imagine having a book where each page was 3 ft wide.
I never use percantage controlled pages because you lose control of where elements are placed in the page and how they are aligned etc.
Sure its fine for text heavy pages but unless you're using flash it screws up page design.
You say "It has nothing to do with layout considerations developed in print."
I don't agree, or maybe you didnt understand what I said. The reality is that many web designers were previously print layout artists. They bring their baggage with them, and it reflects itself in these problems. the key for these people is what skills to build upon and what to leave behind.. and realise that web layout is another skill set, not just an extension of print layout principles.
You also don't have to use percentage widths to scale a page. At the moment, I'm using fixed pixel widths on the navigation and cube/button ad columns and letting the page text fill in the rest.