Thursday, May 13, 2004

Feet under the <table>

The ever erudite Andy Budd has posted a lengthy article on Table Based vs. CSS Based Design. In essence, his point is that the current guru-tastic attitude of "Gone CSS and never looked back" may be misplaced at best, dangerous - at least to your working hours and mental health - at worst.

"I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves writing fairly complicated CSS to do something that would be trivial using tables. Take form styling for example. It’s possible to lay out even very tricky forms using tables in just a few minutes. You can achieve similar results by floating elements with CSS, but it’s a lot more involved. |f you’re a CSS guru it’s all part of the fun. However if you’re a regular mortal and your boss is breathing down your neck because they don’t understand why their “simple form” is taking so long, it can be incredibly frustrating."

Andy has a good point about "front-loading" a website by externalising all of the layout code in the form of stylesheets, although for many corporate or portal websites the savings made by going CSS-layout should more than offset the weight of the new chunky stylesheet, but I think Dan Webb hit the nail on the head in his comment on device-independent browsing:

"If all pages on the web were written using CSS presentation and semantic code (which is the objective for web standards types) then all the web would be device independent..."

Personally, that is the way I see the web evolving - in five years or less the way that the internet is accessed will have undergone a sea-change; no longer will we be sat in our spare rooms or offices, hunched over the PC - your connection to the wired world will be in your pocket in the form of a WAP phone (and also driving license and credit cards, but that's a different story), and in the corner of the living room.

Internet access will polarise into Mobile and TV, and sites that were not designed by forward-thinking designers will falter and fail.


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