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The Table Debate

Guest leegao

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Guest leegao

Well, this seems like one of our typical conservative web designers community out there so I'll throw out my questions to you.


Why do you use CSS-styled containers to do your layout when Tables are obviously easier?


Make no mistakes, I'm not asking your opinion on table-based layouts, nor do I want to hear the traditional arguments on aesthetics. I'll begin by clarifying some issues. I've never used tables for layout, and I, like many of you here, fully believes in the concept of keeping up semantics of the markup and in doing so keeping the style rules away from the markup (And yes, the clear hierarchical flow of the code is pleasing to the eyes).


However, I also believe that practicality supersedes design aesthetics.


If so, I've been wondering for quite a while why we have allowed ourselves to reject tables as a valid tool for creating layouts. As far as I'm concerned, not a single argument in favor of the css-container convention argues on issues of practicality. And in my mind, where I'm weighing the practicality of the two conventions, Table always comes out to be superior.

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The experts who produce the standards for coding have produced a new set of table codes - display: table and lots of others like inline-table and table-row. See



so tables will continue to be used, but you are supposed to use them where they are best suited and use HTML and CSS where it is best suited.

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Tables are for Data, simple as that for me.


I do not see how tables are "easier", maybe easier to write... but not easier to maintain, not superior when being nested to do a job they are not designed for and I always hated the limitations, you are stuck with horizontal or vertical rows/columns that you have to fit your design into... so figure out how to cut images to fit the limitations of the table instead of the logic of the image. How often do people slice images in odd places because of the table rather than the most logical place to slice the image and easiest place to hide it. CSS allows me to place the image where I want it and not where a limited table allows it.


There is little logic to using tables for layout, it was only done because it was all we had. If CSS had come out before the internet exploded... no one today would even dream of using them for layout unless logical for data. The only thing going for it in my view is "ease of use." Laziness is not why the customer pays me, they pay me for quality, doing things right as I see it. Layout tables do not make it easier for them or the user... just me.


As CSS tables stuff is more widely supported, I will decide to use them if they seem logically useful to me regardles if other things are easier. I will use the right tool for the job.

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And in my mind, where I'm weighing the practicality of the two conventions, Table always comes out to be superior.

What about updating layouts based on tables? Do you find them also more practical in this sense?

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