Support » Themes and Templates » What’s so bad about tables?

  • While learning and fiddling with CSS I’ve notices people seem to much prefer CSS to tables.

    However myself I would MUCH rather use tables but with CSS classes. It seems using soley CSS divs etc. causes alot of compatibility issues between browsers and really isn’t worth the trouble. Also tables allow for somewhat more complex layouts much much easier.

    So my question is what’s the big deal about tables, why shouldn’t I use them if they don’t cause compatibility problems and they’re easier to make? I don’t want to just avoid using them because CSS is ‘the’ thing to do.

Viewing 15 replies - 31 through 45 (of 82 total)
  • Hi again,

    did I say that CSS is going the way of Betamax? No I didn’t. I said, that W3C is twisting the arm of the one browser which WAS the main standard before they started. And that’s illogical.

    As to links, I said it several times, you won’t get any. I never ever hand out links. Period.

    But how about writing CSS – crossbrowser-compatible – backwards-compatible – for a 5 column with 2 headers (one spanning the 5, one spanning only 3 columns width) and footer table for me, with thin outlines of every cell, a gap top and bottom, different background colors and – of course – no graphics used for any of this, shrinkable and stretchable into any direction, … and please make that whole thing less than 600 bytes in size including the html part of it? If you pull that one off, we talk again.

    I just did that in html. Took me not even a minute. Filesize is 585 bytes, exactly. How about yours?

    Hi manstraw,

    …uuuuuuuuh – don’t start me on Javascript…

    *shuddering*

    lhk: talk is very cheap. While I respect your position on not providing links (examples) supporting your claims it certainly makes your claims less credible. Thanks for the interesting read but I agree that CSS is the way to and tables should be limited to tabular data. As for your claim about W3C “armtwisting” you should read up on the history of IE. For me IE never rose to the status of being a standard, as ubiquitous as it might be.

    Hi ladydelaluna,

    I believe you misread some parts. I do code CSS sites. I just don’t twist my clients’ arms into doing so, and I very readily advise against CSS whenever there is a reason not to. That’s the point I’m making here – absolutely unlike the CSS-fanatics here.

    As to technology: we have email, cell phone and video-conferencing today, but I haven’t noticed that telegraphs and normal phones have ceased to exist. Just like cash hasn’t disappeared simply because some people use credit cards.

    If people in general behaved like W3C fanatics these days behave, we’d have neither telegraphs anymore today, nor phones, nor still recordplayers for HiFi-enthusiasts, VCRs or watermills for that matter. Funnily all these technologies still have their valid niches and no one debates whether or not they may stay where they are.

    To astonish you a bit more, one of my uncles (who is a forrester) recently engaged two heavy horses and their drivers to transport wood out of the forrests he is caretaker of. He also engages the most modern harvester on the market, for a different stretch of woods. I find nothing extraordinary in this, given the stance of W3C fanatics, I guess they would.

    I deal mostly with European customers and visitors, and as I said, the lowest I get here is 75-80% IE, and that *is* with sites mainly tech oriented. What may make a difference in the stats is that we have practically nil webTV and like users here, most go online via either dial-up lines or broadband (normal DSL only) using a computer or – rarely – a laptop. Perforce almost everyone but geeks is online with a Windows-powered computer, few bother to install a second browser. This is even more pronounced with Easteuropean sites or African sites, where they aren’t yet even completely migrated to 486 comps or browsers above 4.0.

    “I deal mostly with European customers and visitors, and as I said, the lowest I get here is 75-80% IE, and that *is* with sites mainly tech oriented. What may make a difference in the stats is that we have practically nil webTV and like users here, most go online via either dial-up lines or broadband (normal DSL only) using a computer or – rarely – a laptop. Perforce almost everyone but geeks is online with a Windows-powered computer, few bother to install a second browser. This is even more pronounced with Easteuropean sites or African sites, where they aren’t yet even completely migrated to 486 comps or browsers above 4.0.”

    So then why not agree that design decisions should be related to your target audience, and leave it at that? Why argue against CSS based layouts as a whole just because YOUR targets don’t view it properly? The stats I gave you were pulled right from pmetrics, I’d even be so willing as to give you the login and password to see for yourself… The sites are all linked from one or the other of my own business sites, so it’s not like I’ve anything to hide here… my client’s stats are what they are, just like yours are what they are – yet every single time there’s a question about “which is better” – you appear, and you vehemently defend your preferences as what YOU think should be standard.

    For the record – you can’t dare compare tables to vinyl records or the like… There’s a classic quality in vinyl, whereas I’ve yet to see a site using table based layouts be considered “classic”.

    As for the search queries you gave earlier, I took a look at the first page, and I know you refuse to admit as to whether or not you did have anything to do with any of them, I will say this – the only sites I saw that I felt looked the least bit professionally designed were NOT using table based layouts (and I’m ignoring sites like imdb.com and the like)… those that were, looked like utter crap if you ask me. I sure hope you had nothing to do with any of those on the top 10.

    I think there’s a saying to the effect that “there are none so blind that those who won’t see”. <shrug>

    Exactly. I agree with ladydeluna – and also as I’ve been saying. Designers work <b>towards their audience</b> Lhk – no one here has bashed table-based layouts, but we have offered opinions – like you – based on our experience and use with our audience – like you. Which was the basis of the original question.

    The answer to that question is that you should determine who your audience is, and what they use the most often (as we have stated several times). If you’re designing for an audience that uses old browsers, then by all means, use a table-based layout. No one is saying you can’t. But if you prefer to move forward in your designs, and keep with a more progressive audience (because that’s what your audience *is*), then learn CSS, and learn it well.

    I do, however, find it interesting that the one person who is vehemently defending table-based layouts has moseyed on down to calling us, who are a little more forward-thinking and hopeful of progression to a better system, names such as “geeks” and “fanatics”, and assuming that we “fanatics” “twist our clients arms” into using CSS over tables. I, personally, do not – in fact, the majority of my clients seek me out to convert their table-based sites to CSS. I do no marketing of my business at all, actually – it’s all word-of-mouth…and I must say that I’m perfectly happy for people to create table-based layouts, because I get paid quite nicely to convert them! Keeps paying for my family vacations – so keep ’em coming, I say 😉

    well said, as usual, doodlebee – and i too appreciate the opportunity to freshen up tired old table based layout sites for my clients by switching it up to a CSS based layout – and they love the results as well! oftentimes my clients seek me out for that, and then wind up signing on for continuing SEO services which nets me a monthly payment i sure like to get.

    Please be reminded this is a WordPress support forum, and not a web designers forum. Also please keep the discussion to a civil and friendly tone. Any further venture from such, and the thread may well find itself suffering the fate of other O/T threads of late that crossed lines.

    There is a very good, non-geek, reason for divorcing content and formatting – which is the drive behind CSS based pages.

    Making a division between the content and the layout means that the content can be made – in theory – universal. THAT should mean something to clients. They can either have a table based page that is only viewable on 90% of computer based web browsers, or they can (eventually) have a web site that is visible on browsers, phones, content aggregarators, search engines, and available as a “web service”.

    CSS and XHTML (which are really interim steps towards XSLT, XML, and XML style sheets) are NOT “geek driven” technology being “forced into place by a standards organization”. They are ways to make publishers content available to the maximum possible number of consumers regardless of their platform.

    If publishers insist on using 1990s web styles and standards, and only reach 80% of the market, they are going to get smoked by those that are willing to embrace the (right now, unfortunatly, tricky) technology and capture 95% of the potential audience.

    I would still appreciate the link to your websitebaker assertion. Am I correct in assuming this isn’t a website you are responsible for? If so, then you should have no reservation in providing a link to your claim.

    CharlesKrause – thanks for bringing this back to the heart of the matter. It’s why companies, including Microsoft, participate in developing standards. Let’s not forget that Microsoft is a member of w3c.

    Oh, and I generally never use javascript (I’m a server side kind of guy). I use it for the one task of forcing ie6 into compliance because the 6 year old browser is the one that needs the help, and can darn well pay for it.

    One needs only stop to consider the vast number of platforms now available for accessing one’s website(s) in order to “get” why tables for layout no longer makes sense. Of course, tables are sensible for tabular data and will always be so – just as with databases and spreadsheets.

    Bottom line: the single biggest argument against tables for layout is the proliferation of “non-traditional” devices which expect to view one’s webspaces on entirely non-traditional viewports.

    [Edited for clarity….]

    whooami

    (@whooami)

    Member

    way back on page 1 of this thread lhk said,

    I’ve yet to see site stats with less than 80-75% IE users, most are up somewhere around 95%. This won’t change unless companies and shops cease to sell their computers with Windows pre-installed.

    I can show you one:

    Firefox:

    Firefox 1.5.0.4 : 22.6 %
    Firefox 1.5.0.3 : 0.5 %
    Firefox 1.5.0.1 : 0.5 %
    Firefox 1.5 : 0.4 %
    Firefox 1.0.7 : 35.6 %
    Firefox 1.0.6 : 0.2 %
    Firefox 1.0.4 : 0.4 %

    Grand total for FF: 60.6 %

    ————————–

    Internet Explorer:

    Msie 7.0 : 2.6 %
    Msie 6.0 : 21 %
    Msie 5.5 : 0.6 %

    Grand total for IE: 24.3 % <—-

    Right out of awstats.

    Another positive side of CSS, other than keeping content separate from layout, is that the browser can cache the CSS-file. This acctually makes several CSS-based websites faster even if the first page entered on the website can be a bit slower than a table-based site. Websites that check download speed etc. don’t take this into account either which makes table-based websites look better than what they really are…

    The stats for one of the websites i develop (it’s for a small college in Sweden) show about 60% MSIE and the rest a mix of browser with Firefox at about 20%. Everyone has geneeration 5 browsers or higher which makes CSS a really good idea.

    Hi again,

    @miklb: Given that WP has by now achieved quite some notoriety for trouble and lack in the design part, I do believe that design discussions ought to be part of WP. If you still think that not, I have no problem with that 😉

    @ladydelaluna: You’re still misunderstanding and misrepresenting what I say. I’m not argueing that one switch back to tables and do away with CSS. While I can understand a CSS-fanatic coming to that conclusion by applying one’s own (CSS-only-and-for-everything) stance to that of the other party, it’s close to being an insult to someone of my opinion, which is that CSS at best is one solution of many, for one situation and not for others.

    And sorry, tabled design is very much a classic. Looking at the VAST majority of CSS-designs out there, and right now I very literally mean EVERYTHING but maybe a minuscule sliver 0.000001%, all I see are CSS sites EMULATING tables. Given that you can do much more and quite different things with CSS, doesn’t it astonish anyone, that what it’s most used for is recreating a tabled design in divs?! And this not just by the recently “converted” designers, but even by those swearing on the “huge variability” in CSS right from the start?

    I’ve seen so many CSS/XHTML files these past years, which bend over twice and thrice backwards to achieve the MOST likeness to tabled design as possible, often hopping through the most elaborate hoops of coding to do that (in spite of the fact that just this can be achieved with a much, much leaner code in tables themselves). You can’t notice that and still think tables and tabular page design isn’t a classic.

    @manstraw: I made two else identical installations for a client, both on the same server, a WSB one and a WP one, so he could compare and decide which system to use.

    I for myself did some comparing on performance and cross-browser/backwards-compatibility because it was a perfect casestudy for me too. Both relatively small CMS, both sites with the content separated from the design, and as the design and setup was practically identical, comparison was easy. I didn’t compare sheer performance of the CMS software, instead I only compared and analyzed pageloads and pageweights. And the tables clearly won out there.

    I’m not even saying that with a more complicated design than what I usually do this might not have been different. But using a simple, straightforward classic two-column layout, even including one nested header table, the tabled design still won on actual size and loadtime.

    The ratio was somewhere along 1 (WSB-tables) : 1,6 (WP-css) and to me at least that speaks a clear language. And the WP installation was not even truly cross-browser-fast, whereas the tabled WSB displayed nearly identically everywhere.

    In case you’re interested, the client decided on WP in the end, because he liked the admin interface better, I finished the installation for him (with a resulting ratio of 1:1,8 after that) and he’s happily using it by now. He is on a fast server, with lots of bandwidth, he can stomach the money he has to pay for that easily, so it doesn’t really matter for him whether WP rakes up more of that than WSB. On a slower server or one with less bandwidth allowance I’d have quite clearly told him to go for the other solution.

    If you look at the bare files called and their sizes, it’s only logical why the tabled design wins out. As I already said, the size of such a simple table code is far smaller than the size of the CSS+html emulating the same table for all browsers and backwards. It’s quite funny how you all here tend to negate that little fact.

    @vkaryl: I’m a webdesigner, many if not most people I am in contact or friends with are some way or the other net-savvy, tech-oriented and have professional relationships with the net.

    I know of no one (literally: not one person) who does more than bid on Ebay, watch violent little video snippets or write an email with these socalled “non-traditional” devices. I have yet to meet someone who actually surfs with his pda or cell phone. It’s impossibly expensive, it’s slow like hell, it’s uncomfortable and you need to carry around a magnifying glass to read.

    And what’s even more interesting: everyone (literally: every person) who has a pda or other “non-traditional” device also has a computer/a laptop and surfs on those.

    Currently, and due to discomfort for a long long time yet, I see no reason to provide content for devices which are not commonly used to view this type of content, unless there is a truly good reason to do so. One of these very good reasons would be the intranet site of a firm handing out pdas to their employees for quick referencing. I can think of very few other equally good reasons.

    Seriously, who would look at a site with hours-long reading content on a device where 10 minutes cost him three bucks (while at home he pays at most 1cent for the same time and can read much more and much more comfortably)?!

    Until we’ve reached that sci-fi age where glasses project the whole screen onto your retina and this service costs as little as dialup internet does, there is to me little sense in trying to cater to this for the vast majority of sites. And if we sometime reach that point of technology, we don’t need to adjust, as the projection will be as good as sitting in front of a fullsized screen.

    I wonder what you think are the benefits for a normal content-driven site and even the majority of commercial sites to be accessible via pda or cell phone? Does anyone here truly believe, that any major shopping is done that way? Does anyone truly believe people have so much leisure time and are so rich to sit around and surf (expensively) instead of doing what one usually does when leaving the house? What is that projected target audience for this? How much income will it generate for a site?

Viewing 15 replies - 31 through 45 (of 82 total)
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