W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > October to December 2001

Re: Some questions from CHI-WEB people

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Tue, 25 Dec 2001 09:57:57 -0800
Message-Id: <a05101015b84e6d795d72@[]>
To: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Cc: David Poehlman <poehlman1@home.com>, Scott Luebking <phoenixl@sonic.net>, <lucy-ples@mtu-net.ru>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 8:12 AM -0500 12/25/01, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
>Just so we realise that this isn't an area where there is someone with all
>the answers:
>CSS, definitely. CSS is uch friendlier to older browsers than tables.
>(Especially to older browsers still in relatively wide use, like lynx).

Not really.  If you're talking about old, old browsers, and you give them
something like <div>s with CSS-P, it will flow it together in an old
mess.  If you're talking about old, old browsers, and you give them
<table>, at worst it does the same as lynx -- flows it together in one
big mess -- and at best it will lay out the page exactly as intended.

Here's why tables are better than CSS -- the semantic meaning is more
clear.  In CSS, _any_ element can be used for layout purposes; most
commonly it's <div>, the absolute most generic tag in the lot, short of
its close cousin, <span>.  A <div> or a <span> can mean, literally,

Now, take <table>.  A <table> can be one of two things:  It can be a
layout table, or it can be a data table.  Distinguishing between the
two, if coded correctly, is not all that hard; data tables, for example,
rarely are designed to fill the entire screen within a <body>, while
layout tables usually don't have captions.

Therefore, <table> is a _lot_ clearer, within the markup, at indicating
"this is a bit of markup which could be either a layout table or a
data table" -- two choices.  CSS-driven layouts use elements which
could be _anything_, from generic style groupings to content groups
to layout groups to indications of language change to anything else.


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                 http://kynn.com
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain            http://idyllmtn.com
Web Accessibility Expert-for-hire          http://kynn.com/resume
January Web Accessibility eCourse           http://kynn.com/+d201
Received on Tuesday, 25 December 2001 13:26:56 UTC

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