Should I use tables for layout?
I’ve just stumbled upon a new campaign called: “Give up and use tables”. Two guys: Todd A and Brian Matthews seem to be tired of wasting their time on making things work CSS. Instead they suggest using tables and even offer to provide you with the HTML code you need. To make it even better they provide a little app: a counter which measures how much time you already spent on making CSS work. Should you really be using tables for layout?
Tables for layouts
Probably right when CSS became more powerful than doing font formatting only, people started to argue whether it is right or wrong to use tables for layout. The discussion has been going for years now and there seem to be pros and cons of each approach. Personally I agree with Roger Johansson: tables should be used for tabular data because that is what they are made for.
Looking at the “Give up and use tables” campaign I realize the huge impact it has on many SharePoint developers. Many of them have background in application development. Not that it is bad but designing and developing applications interface is different from developing websites. Before using tables one should realize what the consequences are. And to do so you need webdesign knowledge and a bit of experience. This campaign, instead of helping them convert to using CSS for content presentation on the Web, confirms that they are actually right in their so called “pragmatic approach to design”.
To sustain my opinion on using tables for layout I have found another campaign called: “Should I use tables for layout?”. This one really reflects my opinion on the subject.
Replacing tables for layout with semantic HTML is not always straight-forward and easy. It’s all about being creative, knowing HTML and looking at the information instead of design. If you’re interested in the subject here are some resources which might help you put the first steps:
- Bring on the tables by Roger Johansson
- From Table Hacks to CSS Layout: A Web Designer’s Journey by Jeffrey Zeldman
- Techniques for Accessible HTML Tables by Stephen Ferg
- A table, s’il vous plait by Matthias Gutfeldt