W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > February 2002

Re: css layout should be symmetrical

From: <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 07:54:58 -0800 (PST)
Message-Id: <200202191555.HAA23399@garth.idyllmtn.com>
To: Rob@DrunkenFist.com (Rob Larsen)
Cc: www-style@w3.org
Rob Larsen wrote:
> If designers aren't seeing what they need in CSS then the specs need to
> address that and this is as good a place as any to point out what people
> need. Isn't it? Professional designers and interface folks are going to be
> the people that control the majority of what users are presented in real
> world situations. If they can't do what they want to do visually using CSS,
> then all the rhetoric in the world about using tables only for tabular data
> isn't going to stop them from using tables. In that case all the thought and
> work that has gone into this is all for naught. That's an important thing to
> consider.

As a web accessibility instructor I'm often asked how seriously one should
take the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative's exhortations to use CSS
and not tables for layout, as well as similar claims from the CSS

I tell them the benefits of CSS-only design, the limitations of tables
for layout, the good dogmatic reasons why it's just WRONG to use tables
instead of CSS for layout.

I also tell them to look at the web sites of the accessibility experts.

All of the following sites use tables for layout, and don't use CSS for
anything other than text formatting:

* http://www.w3.org/
* http://www.w3.org/WAI/
* http://www.webaim.org/
* http://www.cast.org/bobby/

Only a very limited number of web sites from "accessibility experts" rely
on CSS, and the majority of those sites are forced to have a message such
as that on the W3C's HTML Validator (http://validator.w3.org/) which reads:

     Why does this page render badly?

       Most likely this is due to a bug in your browser's support
       for the W3C Cascading Style Sheets Recommendation.

The fact that the accessibility sites don't use CSS for layout supports the
idea that CSS is not ready to replace tables. The fact that sites which use
CSS for layout require a warning -- which would be completely unacceptable
in commercial work -- is further support for the "not ready for prime time"

--Kynn Bartlett

Received on Tuesday, 19 February 2002 12:40:08 UTC

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