Tables vs CSS

Through the StyleGala i have found this site, which critices the point of using tableless design, and i have found this article extremly interesting. While not agreeing in a lot of aspects, i feel it represents an important point of view — an opposite point of view, which have been missing inside the webdesigners community.

Here are some points where i do not agree:

  • Bandwidth — I believe that for the most home-made sites (like this one), which do not have millions of visitors per day, the bandwidth mayy not play a very important point, but for any corporate site or just a site with a lot of visitors — it can be pretty important thing. And as i have seen some corporate sites from the inside i can tell, that there are too many cases, where refacturing the HTML cuts some very serious percentage.
  • The future of the web is full CSS — yes, and even microsoft with the IE are also following it. Yes, microsoft have their own extensions, but Opera, Safari, Mozilla and others do have them as well. The best example of a good idea coming into the world of standards and being accepted by the communities is the AJAX. And i have no doubt, that though IE 7 wont be available for anything below Windows XP, microsoft will convince the most of the users of switching with the time to Vista
  • Remembering the styles applied to different pages after some monthes — the same as in a good professional programming, if you did a good job, giving good names to your functions and variables, you wont have a lot of problems. If you are calling your style or id something like “white” or “blue”, and not with the functional name — then most probably after some time you will start getting a lot of problems
  • Is full CSS faster — i dont know what kind of a “typical” page was represented in that case, but while doing some sites i have noticed the reendering speed inside the Visual studio for example. And having 200 rows or more in a buisiness web application is nothing special at all. Once again, for a home site with a few things, probably the difference wont be noticed. And one more thing — not everyone enjoying having the fastest computers at home
  • Return on investment — a well done page with a CSS, will enable the webdesigner doing a lot of the global changes in just a few seconds, and if a webmaster is tricking you telling that he needs the same time, then you better look for another one
  • W3C standards are useless — why everyone including microsoft are following them, ok not all of them, but as in the real world — some are getting through, while others not.
  • Separation of strcture and content makes websites more organized — no point to argue about it, organizing a page helps maintaing it
  • 31K & 51K for a page — i see a lot of difference, even if its 41K & 51K. Once i decided to “reorganize” a page for some business application and it went straight from 130K to 73K, now that was big change, i would say. And if your application is being loaded like 500 times per hour or more, then very soon you will start seeing the difference
  • Common sense of skipping small images and webpages by the webdevelopers are the things which are not compattible. It is ridiculous to think, that the people with disabilities are in way or another should be “presented” a different page, then the others.
  • Selling your product is a question of marketting, which has nothing to do with a structural presentation of the page, though a good marketer can use the standard compliance as a prefential factor to his cause
  • “May work well” by Zeldman is much better then “wont work” by the tables design

But from the other side:

  • CSS Complexity — even today one of my friends was talking with me about the complexity of the CSS, i believe it is a valid point of view, the structure is not that simple, when you are starting out, but once getting in, and when creating a well-thought structure it can be very efficient
  • Tables are not only for the tabular data — i agree that sometimes tables can be used as a part of the interface, when the interface is pretty tabular
  • Always ask for “Return On Investment” of the LATEST STANDARD before going — as it should be done with any other thing, i agree with it. No need to use the CSS 3, especially because it is not final at this moment, but if you ignore the movement, you are risking to find yourself in a situation, being some years behind the rest of the web

Anyway — a lot of the issues depend on the point of the view, but i think, that the standard compliance(not a blind one, cause that would be stupid), brings a lot of advantages, but once again i think its good to do the “reality check” from time to time, to see if we are still going into the right direction.

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