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Old 11-06-2005, 07:35 AM   #1
CarlSeiler
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Default Table Conversion

Hi everyone. My first post here. I'm a longtime (if infrequent) user of the old CompuServe InetPub forum.

My sub-site is really a "blog" but started before there was such a word. Even though I have used CSS1 for years, I just got to figuring that I might want to use CSS instead of tables. I'm talking about the big table making up the bulk of the page. Conceptually, the site really is tabular in many ways. There are three columns, firt column is icon indicating whether it has audio or plain text, second indicating geographic region, and third a summary of the news article.

Any reason to abandon tables? If so, my strategy is to start playing with margins, but is this the right approach? If not, can anyone make suggestions or even show examples of similar sites having such a layout?

Thanks,
Carl

PS, oops, I left out the link: http://www.overanalysis.org/globdiv/index.html
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Old 11-06-2005, 08:47 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlSeiler
My sub-site is really a "blog" but started before there was such a word. Even though I have used CSS1 for years, I just got to figuring that I might want to use CSS instead of tables. I'm talking about the big table making up the bulk of the page. Conceptually, the site really is tabular in many ways. There are three columns, firt column is icon indicating whether it has audio or plain text, second indicating geographic region, and third a summary of the news article.

Any reason to abandon tables?
I think so, but I always hated tables; CSS came as a great relief! The main advantage of CSS in general (and compared to tables in particular) is that the specifications and HTML are separate. This has many benefits:
  • One stylesheet can be applied to many pages, saving bandwidth and time.
  • You make changes in the stylesheet and usually can leave the HTML alone.
  • The HTML page has very little coding junk in it.
  • It is much easier to troubleshoot.
We use CSS (no tables) for the 3-column home page of this place. It flexes in width to suit the viewer’s browser settings (which causes a couple of problems for some people with some browsers; still working on that), and uses DIVs to create column-like entities.

You are more than welcome to lift the HTML and CSS and see how it works.

It can be difficult to shift from tables to CSS, mainly because you need to view the “boxes” that make up web pages in a completely different way. It can be confusing.

I learned a lot from HTML for the World Wide Web by Elizabeth Castro — she provides step-by-step instructions.

And there are fabulous CSS mavens here to help as well.

Nice to see you here. Welcome to the forum.

   
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Old 11-06-2005, 09:03 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by ktinkel
We use CSS (no tables) for the 3-column home page of this place. It flexes in width to suit the viewer’s browser settings (which causes a couple of problems for some people with some browsers; still working on that), and uses DIVs to create column-like entities.

You are more than welcome to lift the HTML and CSS and see how it works.

The reasons you give are certainly among reasons I have for moving over to CSS from tables. And I have done some three-column pages using CSS (see http://www.overanalysis.org/working/index.html ). But this is different, as it's not only three columns, but also distinct rows. So I need the column formatting repeated row after row, sort of like the "Topic Review" seen below when you're editing a post here in the thread. I'm going to pick apart that CSS and see if I can't figure something out. I think the problem is I know the basics of CSS and HTML, but I'm just having trouble making the conceptual leap to CSS for a table-like formatting because it really is a table, and I think of it as a table.
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Old 11-06-2005, 09:07 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by CarlSeiler
So I need the column formatting repeated row after row, sort of like the "Topic Review" seen below when you're editing a post here in the thread. I'm going to pick apart that CSS and see if I can't figure something out.
Heh, turns out it's done with tables
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Old 11-06-2005, 11:33 AM   #5
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Heh, turns out it's done with tables
Oh, yes — this software (which we license, and certainly did not make!) is definitely based on tables. And PHP and other arcana.

We create the home page; that’s all.

   
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Old 11-06-2005, 11:35 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by CarlSeiler
But this is different, as it's not only three columns, but also distinct rows. So I need the column formatting repeated row after row.
That might be difficult enough with CSS alone that it makes sense to continue with tables. You can use CSS for much of the styling, though, which should relieve your HTML considerably.

   
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Old 11-06-2005, 10:57 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by CarlSeiler
Any reason to abandon tables?
CSS and tables are not mutually exclusive. Where informtion is naturally tabular in format, then it's quite acceptable to include them, but within the framework of a CSS-based page and site.

Several of the pages on one of my sites have tables, this one being the main one. (Yes, it needs updating, but I'll leave it for a few days to show how the table works).

   
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Old 11-06-2005, 02:48 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by annc
CSS and tables are not mutually exclusive. Where informtion is naturally tabular in format, then it's quite acceptable to include them, but within the framework of a CSS-based page and site.

Several of the pages on one of my sites have tables, this one being the main one. (Yes, it needs updating, but I'll leave it for a few days to show how the table works).
Yes, I definitely agree, and I guess one of the things I'm also asking here is if anyone can see any reason my table should not be a table. Functionally, the items can be considered tabular, but is it necessary. One of the things, I was thinking of is treating the icons as special bulleted items and the whole thing as an unordered list.
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Old 11-06-2005, 03:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlSeiler
Yes, I definitely agree, and I guess one of the things I'm also asking here is if anyone can see any reason my table should not be a table. Functionally, the items can be considered tabular, but is it necessary. One of the things, I was thinking of is treating the icons as special bulleted items and the whole thing as an unordered list.
Carl, I'm one of the refuges from Compuserve's INETPUB so you may not be famililar with my background... so my previous reply may not make 100% sense. I'm a US Federal contractor and the US has very specific requirements for all Federal web sites. One of those requirements is that our sites must be 100% accessible to the blind. I'm probably one of the few people in this forum so familiar with designing for the blind...

Yes, you could lay out the tabular information with CSS, but you'd lose the semantic meaning of the HTML tags. The <td> and <tr> tags are very helpful to the sight impaired when a web page is read to them by their software. If you use CSS, they don't get the extra information identifying rows and columns.

   
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Old 11-06-2005, 05:33 PM   #10
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Carl, I'm one of the refuges from Compuserve's INETPUB so you may not be famililar with my background... so my previous reply may not make 100% sense. I'm a US Federal contractor and the US has very specific requirements for all Federal web sites. One of those requirements is that our sites must be 100% accessible to the blind. I'm probably one of the few people in this forum so familiar with designing for the blind... Yes, you could lay out the tabular information with CSS, but you'd lose the semantic meaning of the HTML tags. The <td> and <tr> tags are very helpful to the sight impaired when a web page is read to them by their software. If you use CSS, they don't get the extra information identifying rows and columns.
I'm not sure that there really is any semantic meaning in the HTML tags for the table in my case. At least none that could not be communicated in a different way. That is, it's really just a list of articles. UL and LI tags could very well communicate this list, with each LI starting by describing what it is about.

I don't currently have a speech browser installed, although I have experimented with them in the past. When the old Bobby validator first popped up, all of my stuff used to pass through fine. After a while, though, it got to be too difficult for me to filter through stuff as it seemed the bar kept getting raised higher and higher, and it got to be more and more of the accessibility requirements weren't easily tested using a validator. That said, I do know all of my stuff looks fine on Lynx, and many speech browsers used to be fairly Lynx-like (although I don't know how they behave these days). I've never really attempted to totally be section 508 compliant, but I think my pages are more accessible than the average page out there. I have been kicked off of projects for insisting on a modicum of accessibility.
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