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I would, personally, suggest being satisified with the effect in one common window size. What you're aiming for is much more of a print sensibility than a web sensibility.
I've seen some commercial sites that generate a pop-up in the exact size they want for their postcard effect. But I shudder at trying for it in all possible window sizes.
Screen resolution does not measure available space.
If you have a ton of development time in on this design, I'd give thought to opening a pop-up window, sized precisely the way the design requires.
See Vertical Centering with CSS [wpdfd.com] (below the advert banner) for an explanation of how to center vertically. Though it does reqire an extra div for to make Opera play..
i am having a hard time adapting those principles to my layout.
i really want to know what the point of all of this is?
why use css if i can just use tables, make the measurements in percentages and not have to worry about this at all?
By using CSS, you can almost always get the content of your page much closer to the actual flow of the page.
When you use tables, search engines have harder time figuring out what and how you are trying to say it: meaning the wonderfully designed CSS site will show up higher in the rankings.
Tables ruin the logical flow of a page. Thats basically the short and sweet of it.
And, of course, you can only pray by the time IE 7 comes out, that standards will actually be persued.