Friday, July 23, 2010

CSS or Tables?

What is CSS?

CSS stands for cascading style sheets. They are the new technology used to layout and style web pages.

So what happened to old, trusty tables?

For long tables were the only tool available to the web developers to layout their web pages. But with CSS support becoming common, you now have a choice. Both have their strong and weak points, some more than others as you will soon see.

The advantages of tables.

1. Tables have been much longer than CSS, so even today it is easier to find someone who can do a layout in tables.
2. Most of the WYSIWYG editors output table driven layout.
3. CSS support can be buggy, especially in older browsers. So your web pages may display differently in different browsers.

The advantages of CSS.

1. Tables were never designed for layout. So you can get only limited control over layout with tables. CSS is designed for layout. With CSS you can get pixel level control.
2. CSS decouples design from content. So it makes it easier to enforce a standard look and feel across your website.
3. If later you want to change your sites style, it can be as easy as changing one import statement and using external CSS.
4. With nested CSS, pages become large unnecessarily. Moreover until the whole tables is downloaded no part of it can be shown. This leads to a slow website.

So give me the lowdown on this. Which one is better?

With CSS support becoming common, there is no compelling reason to prefer tables. With CSS you get much more control and flexibility. So unless you are unwilling to spend time learning CSS, upgrade to CSS. Today!

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