Web Design::CSS versus Tables
Web Design:CSS versus Tables
Back when Netscape Navigator 4 dominated the browser market, the popular (but now deprecated) solution available for designers to lay out a Web page was by using tables. Often even simple designs for a page would require dozens of tables nested in each other. Many web templates in Dreamweaver and other WYSIWYG editors still use this technique today. Navigator 4 didn't support CSS to a useful degree, so it simply wasn't used.
After the browser wars were over, and Internet Explorer dominated the market, designers started turning towards CSS as an alternate, better means of laying out their pages. CSS proponents say that tables should only be used for tabular data, not for layout. Using CSS instead of tables also returns HTML to a semantic markup, which helps bots and search engines understand what's going on in a web page. Today, all modern Web browsers now support CSS with different degrees of limitations.
However, one of the main points against CSS is that by relying on it exclusively, control is essentially relinquished as each browser has its own quirks which result in a slightly different page display. This is especially a problem as not every browser supports the same subset of CSS codes. For designers who are used to table-based layouts, developing Web sites in CSS often becomes a matter of replicating what can be done with tables, leading some to find CSS design rather cumbersome. For example, it is rather difficult to produce certain design elements, such as vertical positioning, and full-length footers in a design using absolute positions.
These days most modern browsers have solved most of these quirks in CSS rendering and this has made many different CSS layouts possible. However, people continue to use old browsers, and designers need to keep this in mind. Most notable among these old browsers are Internet Explorer 5 and 5.5 which, according to some web designers, are becoming the new Netscape Navigator 4 — a block that holds the internet back from converting to CSS design.
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