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ragamuffin
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I am updating a site that someone built in tables and flash. Right now, it is just one page (which they want to be totally revamped) with the possibility of redesigning the whole site farther down the road.

My question is this? Should I stick with tables for continuity sake or use css. Or would it be more trouble than its worth to do just one page in css while the rest of the site remains in tables.

Thanks.

briandgarside
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This really depends on your comfort with CSS. Personally I've forgotten a lot about tables since I started designing in tableless CSS.

I find it easier to do a lot of stuff with CSS, but there's still times when a table is the only (or simplest) way to do something. You'll hear zealots who say "No tables are evil", but I have a name for those good folks "naive".

If this is your first CSS site, go out and get some good books (Eric Meyer on CSS, More Eric Meyer on CSS and the Web Standards Solutions by Dan Cederholm are three great resources with the last one being my safety blanket), and prepare to ask a lot of questions in this forum.

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thepineapplehead
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brian, please do not call us naive - suprisingly, we do actually know a thing or two about CSS Laughing out loud

Quote:
My question is this? Should I stick with tables for continuity sake or use css. Or would it be more trouble than its worth to do just one page in css while the rest of the site remains in tables.

If you are revamping it with CSS, then what's the point of using tables? For legacy's sake? Then you may as well just go back to using the <font> tag. (There. I've said it.)

I implore you to read this article:

http://www.hotdesign.com/seybold/

then come back and tell us we're naive Laughing out loud

Verschwindende wrote:
  • CSS doesn't make pies

ragamuffin
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Thanks for the reply.

My comfort level is rising with css and I have gotten to the point that I prefer css over tables. I think I will go ahead and create the page in css (with a little persuasion to the client that they should have the whole site revamped in css). I am finding that I am leaning more and more away from a dependency on Dreamweaver also.

Thanks for the recommended resources.

thepineapplehead
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Quote:
finding that I am leaning more and more away from a dependency on Dreamweaver also.

Ah, the Weaver of Lies as we like to call it.

Good to hear it - soon you'll be itching to open Notepad just like the rest of us . . . Laughing out loud

Verschwindende wrote:
  • CSS doesn't make pies

ragamuffin
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Good to hear it - soon you'll be itching to open Notepad just like the rest of us . . .

...or the equivalent to Notepad...Textedit...I am a faithful Mac user. Laughing out loud

briandgarside
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thepineapplehead wrote:
brian, please do not call us naive - suprisingly, we do actually know a thing or two about CSS Laughing out loud

(snippage)

then come back and tell us we're naive Laughing out loud

You're naive. :twisted:

I've been working on the web since 1996, right around the time of Netscape 1.0. I code in my sleep, I know the web inside and out, and I love standards...heck, I evangelize them, and I'm spearheading a redesign of TSN.ca just because of them.

However, I think that the "no tables" crew has gotten way out of control. Tables are still valid HTML.

Tables still make sense to do stuff. The "no tables crew" says "But if you use tables, you can't change your design with a simple CSS rewrite." That's such a silly argument. If your site is built using templates, then you just change the template, and voila, your site is changed.

Is CSS and valid (X)HTML the way to go? Yes. Is abandoning all tables for the sake of abandoning all tables the way to go? It varies with your skill and mileage. If it's going to take you two months to figure out how to make that site look good without tables, then you need to judge whether or not you are going to get a return on that investment of time.

The reason I say the "no tables zealots" are naive is because in the really real world, where we have a team of 20 people with varying degrees of HTML skill inputting things into the system on a daily basis, killing off all tables can do more harm and introduce more complexities into the system than not killing off tables.

In my perfect dream world (a.k.a. Fairy Tale Land) everyone on my team would sleep, dream, and eat (X)HTML the way I do. However I'm sure if you polled them, some of them wish I knew the WHIP of an average pitcher as well as they do.

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briandgarside wrote:

The reason I say the "no tables zealots" are naive is because in the really real world, where we have a team of 20 people with varying degrees of HTML skill inputting things into the system on a daily basis, killing off all tables can do more harm and introduce more complexities into the system than not killing off tables.

So, it's easier for your 'low-level html skill' folks to edit content from within 100 <tr>s and <td>s than it is with <div>s and <p>?

That's just weird.

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Quote:
Tables are still valid HTML.

I didn't say that, I said tables are stupid for layout.

Quote:
If your site is built using templates, then you just change the template, and voila, your site is changed.

Erm, you can't just 'change the template' - you'd have to reinsert all the pages into the new template.

Example - a three row table layout:

<table>
<tr> row 1 </tr>
<tr> row 2 </tr>
<tr> row 3 </tr>
</table>

(I know it's not valid, I don't care Laughing out loud)

This is the header (row 1), navigation (row 2) and content (row3).

You decide you want to have the navigation in a left column and the content in a right column.

No problem, just split row 2 into two columns.

Then you have the problem of moving the content from row 3 OF EVERY PAGE into the 2nd column of row 2.

Done with divs, you'd have

<div id="header"> </div>
<div id="navigation"> </div>
<div id="content"> </div>

Want the navigation under the header? It's already there. Want it in a left hand column? Simply float it left.

I don't see how tables are at all good for layouts Laughing out loud

Verschwindende wrote:
  • CSS doesn't make pies

briski
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briandgarside wrote:
Tables are still valid HTML.

True true, mind you so are H1 tags but i'm sure you would laugh right to the face of someone who make a site that only used H1 tags just because they could and it was valid xHTML. Just because something is valid does not mean it's sensible.

briandgarside wrote:
If it's going to take you two months to figure out how to make that site look good without tables, then you need to judge whether or not you are going to get a return on that investment of time.

Using this logic we would all be riding horses because you know the time taken to invent the car, well that was some years of hard frutless graft, ah what's the point, buy some hay and use a horse, look there's one right there, it so handy!

You have to invest in the begining to get the long term bebefit, which you will.

And to back up TPH's template point.

I have had to redesign sites that use templates done in both CSS and Tables and I can tell you the CSS based redesign was SO much easier, quicker and cheaper it's unfunny.

Table zelots *beep* about time taken to learn it and how tricky it is - well I seem to remember learning tables was just as tricky and stupid. Don't fear what is new, once you master it, it's much easier to work with.

As syrupcore pointed out, CSS based layouts are MUCH better for teams who have varying degrees of HTML, simple structure means it simple to understand surely.

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To return to my orginal code snippet:

<table>
<tr> row 1 </tr>
<tr> row 2 </tr>
<tr> row 3 </tr>
</table>

This is the header (row 1), navigation (row 2) and content (row3).

<div id="header"> </div>
<div id="navigation"> </div>
<div id="content"> </div> 

Now being completely honest, which of these layouts is going to make more sense to a junior programmer who knows nothing about HTML or CSS?

Verschwindende wrote:
  • CSS doesn't make pies

briandgarside
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First off, I'm not going to argue the template debate, but with logically written SSI, every single page on my site uses a header and footer file that can have whatever layout and logic you want put into it. Been doing that since 1997. The sites I work on have pages numbering in the tens of thousands.

briski wrote:

briandgarside wrote:
If it's going to take you two months to figure out how to make that site look good without tables, then you need to judge whether or not you are going to get a return on that investment of time.

Using this logic we would all be riding horses because you know the time taken to invent the car, well that was some years of hard frutless graft, ah what's the point, buy some hay and use a horse, look there's one right there, it so handy!

You have to invest in the begining to get the long term bebefit, which you will.

Can we reign this back for a moment and try to stop making me look like an idiot. I said "you need to judge whether or not you are going to get a return on that investment of time." obviously people judged that building a car was a good return on that investment of time.

Learning CSS and re-learning how you build websites is frustrating and it takes a long time. You may have forgotten that, but I still remember getting my head around the box model and box model hack, and I still see how certain things just simply won't work in a CSS layout.

Sorry, but it's just true. Our old, invalid, non-css, non-standards based website works in every...single...browser. I hate the site with every fibre of my being (it's slow and bloated), but it works.

My new CSS based site will not work in IE 5.5 for the Mac. It does strange things in IE 5 and IE 5.5 for the PC, IE 6 (82% of our users) does stupid things to it for no reason at all at random intervals, but it's golden in all versions of Mozilla (15% of our users).

We're arguing about the same thing. I'm all for standards, I'm all for CSS based, non table based design. IF you have the time to learn it right, and IF you have the resources to teach your team how to re-learn their skillsets.

A lot of people learned how to code in Dreamweaver and are lost without it. Again, it's not right, but it IS reality.

Absolutely everybody should learn CSS, I pointed out a few really good books about the subject.

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briandgarside wrote:
Learning CSS and re-learning how you build websites is frustrating and it takes a long time. You may have forgotten that, but I still remember getting my head around the box model and box model hack, and I still see how certain things just simply won't work in a CSS layout.

Actually i've not forgotten as I'm teaching people how to do it with CSS right now and see their pain daily. But I also remember the pain of tables every time I have to go back to an old site to try and fix something and have to spend hours trawling though gastly tag soup, and I remember the pain of learning them in the first place.

briandgarside wrote:
Sorry, but it's just true. Our old, invalid, non-css, non-standards based website works in every...single...browser. I hate the site with every fibre of my being (it's slow and bloated), but it works.

This thing here is that is probably just not true. Sure it works in browsers that you are using, but what about phones, handhelds/PDAs, screen readers, text browsers. I'll bet it chokes and falls down dead.

I have no idea of numbers but it would be interesting to know about usage of IE Mac Vs. These other things that your site would die on.

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briandgarside wrote:
...Our old, invalid, non-css, non-standards based website works in every...single...browser. I hate the site with every fibre of my being (it's slow and bloated), but it works...
For how long?

Tables are fine for lists of tabular data.

Semantic and valid markup is necessary for web design to take its next step. You can be part of the problem or part of the solution. It's up to you.

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thepineapplehead wrote:
Quote:
finding that I am leaning more and more away from a dependency on Dreamweaver also.

Ah, the Weaver of Lies as we like to call it.

Good to hear it - soon you'll be itching to open Notepad just like the rest of us . . . Laughing out loudLaughing out loud You are SO right! I have become a hardcore Notepad user just in the last two weeks. I was using FP when I suddenly realized I hadn't used ANY of the built-in 'features' in several weeks! I had been using it as an overglorified text editor. So, I stopped using it. {in gravelly whisper "ah Notepad....my preciousssssss!}

DeprecatedDiva

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briandgarside wrote:
If it's going to take you two months to figure out how to make that site look good without tables, then you need to judge whether or not you are going to get a return on that investment of time.
First, let me say that there are, indeed, times when a table is an appropriate element towards layout; with the caveat that it should be flat, that is no nesting. Before Roy and some of the others start yelling, I think I have a certain amount of credibility in re structured, semantic html+css vs. table layout, so let it be.

If it does take that kind of time to figure out how you're going to refactor away from tables, then at least one of these statements is true:
  1. The design is atrocious;
  2. The coder is not up to speed in his craft.
From my experience with the graphic design people, I tend toward the first. Wink It does take a commitment to eschew tables and to adopt a new paradigm in order for it to start coming naturally.
cheers,

gary

[/]

If your web page is as clever as you can make it, it's probably too clever for you to debug or maintain.

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Quote:
My new CSS based site will not work in IE 5.5 for the Mac. It does strange things in IE 5 and IE 5.5 for the PC, IE 6 (82% of our users) does stupid things to it for no reason at all at random intervals, but it's golden in all versions of Mozilla (15% of our users).

IE5 mac is dead.
IE5 and IE5.5 for the PC are crap. However most of IE5.5's shortcomings can be accounted for.
IE6 shouldn't do stupid things if you use proper code and include a complete doctype.

Can you show us the page? I'm sure we could have a crack at making it work.

Verschwindende wrote:
  • CSS doesn't make pies

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thepineapplehead wrote:
IE6 shouldn't do stupid things if you use proper code and include a complete doctype.

The legendary "3 pixel shift". If that's not stupid, I don't know what is.

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Alright, IE is crap. The problems are documented and how to fix them is documented. Unfortunately, c'est la vie Laughing out loud

Verschwindende wrote:
  • CSS doesn't make pies

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Alright, IE is crap. The problems are documented and how to fix them is documented. Unfortunately, c'est la vie

You've got that right.

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I've just found this heated thread and can't let it go without chipping in with my two-pennies worth Wink

Brian - as a fairly widely experienced professional in the internet business, I can relate to just about everything you say, even the bit about templates as I have designed two different CMSs: one using tables and the other using CSSP. In fact, as someone who wastes day after day of unpaid time dealing with feckin IE CSSP problems, I sometimes wish that I had never heard of CSS (and IE). And if you head-up a team of nine-to-fivers who code without passion or enthusiastic understanding, I can REALLY relate to the point you made at the start of this thread. Reading between the lines, I take it as read that you understand that tables have their place in the brave new world of CSS layout (for tabular data) - a point that was perhaps missed by some others. Although your initial response to ragamuffin could have done with a bit more explanation (in hindsight), I think it was a valid one nonetheless. Having said that; it was also asking for trouble on this forum Laughing out loud

ragamuffin - as I think you have seen, CSSP can be a right royal PITA at times, especially when it comes to IE. TPH is quite correct to challenge Brian's statement about his site not working on those browsers as it is perfectly possible to get some REALY complex pages/sites working on IE5, IE5.5 and IE6. I know because I've done it many times over (with a little bit of private help from Hugo on occasion). My latest sites are very complex and with a few very minor exceptions, look pixel-perfect on all the aforementioned browsers. The thing is - and this is what Brian was getting at - it takes a sh*t load of time and effort to get complex layouts to play ball. Loads of time, although it gets easier after the first few. And if you are running a business or managing a section of staff, that can be a show-stopper! TPH knows a lot about CSS but - no disrespect - I don't think he can relate to website production in a busy commercial setting where every minute is a resource that has to be accounted for and where the learning of new skills often has to take second place to getting back-orders out of the door so as not to lose clients.

However; having said all that, I feel you would be crazy not to get on the CSS bandwagon as soon as possible as it is without doubt the incoming technology. Accessibility and the laws on disability discrimination are starting to gather momentum and once you start coding in semantically correct CSS then you'll realise why. It won't be long before your clients start specifying CSS layouts (and all the accessibility issues that go with it) through fear of prosecution, so why waste time? Get in there. MAKE time to learn. Read some books like Brian said, and start to grasp this daunting subject. It is not easy - you'll weep at times and your head will want to explode with the complexity of it all, but then it'll start to fall into place and you'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

So, in summary then: CSS is a b*tch to learn but it's here to stay so the sooner you get your head round it the better. And going full circle back to your original question: doing just one page in CSS could be problematic in so many ways, so I would stick to tables for the sake of consistency ...but start redesigning the whole site in CSS as soon as you can

HTH Smile

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Are you folks talking about Dmitri and his Stretchy Pants?

http://glazkov.com/blog/archive/2005/05/02/476.aspx

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety --- Aesop

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I have been fortunate to work for a company that allows me to use a little bit of company time to learn CSS so that we can take our business to the next level. I am having to un-learn several years of table-thinking (which, in fairness, they still have their place at times). By the way, kk5st's..."Anyone can create a usable website. It takes a graphic designer to make it slow, confusing, and painful to use"...has presented a challenge to me as a graphic designer-by-trade not to make my sites slow, confusing or painful but still artistically appealling.

This forum has been a tremendous help and challenging. Expect many more questions in the days to come. Laughing out loud

Everyone, thanks for your feedback and food for thought.

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ragamuffin wrote:
<snip> By the way, kk5st's..."Anyone can create a usable website. It takes a graphic designer to make it slow, confusing, and painful to use"[1]...has presented a challenge to me as a graphic designer-by-trade not to make my sites slow, confusing or painful but still artistically appealling.<snip>

All? you have to do is forget all you knew about design for print.Smile The. Web. Is. Not. Print. My experience with graphic designers is that the good ones finally get it and the others don't. :shrug:

It takes a paradigm shift to design for a medium over which you have no control. You don't know and can't control the font, the window size, the colors, whether images show, or any other d*mn thing.

The beautifully integrated text and graphics the designer is so proud of is, to me, an image bound PoS that's either too brittle to survive its first encounter with a user or is inaccessible to all too many user agents.

That said, I only wish I had the design sense of most of the designers I work with.

cheers,

gary

[1] The sig line is actually a paraphrase of a line from an MIT publication, "How to be a Web Whore Just Like Me" by Philip Greenspun. That is the online version of the dead tree title, "Database-backed Web Sites".

If your web page is as clever as you can make it, it's probably too clever for you to debug or maintain.

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Quote:
TPH knows a lot about CSS but - no disrespect - I don't think he can relate to website production in a busy commercial setting where every minute is a resource that has to be accounted for and where the learning of new skills often has to take second place to getting back-orders out of the door so as not to lose clients.

Hence my rant about giving up for IE and only coding for decent browsers Laughing out loud

Verschwindende wrote:
  • CSS doesn't make pies

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thepineapplehead wrote:
Hence my rant about giving up for IE and only coding for decent browsers Laughing out loud

...yes, I laughed at that one too Wink ..if only Laughing out loud

Life's a b*tch and then you die!