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Designing With Web Standards 154

Trent Lucier writes "If you've browsed the web design section of any bookstore lately, you've seen him staring at you. The blue hat. The mustache. The blinding neon background. He's Jeffrey Zeldman, publisher of the influential web development magazine, 'A List Apart' and author of the book Designing With Web Standards (DWWS). The first edition of the DWWS was published in 2003, and now 2006 brings us an updated 2nd edition. In a market flooded with XHTML, CSS, and web standards books, is DWWS 2nd Ed. still relevant?" Read the rest of Trent's review for the answer.
Designing With Web Standards, 2nd Ed.
author Jeffrey Zeldman
pages 410
publisher New Riders
rating 8.5
reviewer Trent Lucier
ISBN 0321385551
summary Foundations for creating standards-based websites using XHTML and CSS.


DWWS is more of a survey course than a deep dive into a particular topic. In fact, a large part of the book is dedicated to the philosophy of web standards, as opposed to their specific implementation. The reader is given background information on the turbulent early years of the web, when Netscape and Microsoft battled each other with proprietary features, driving coders crazy and sending development costs through the roof. Inconsistent support for HTML, JavaScript and CSS often meant that a single page had to have multiple versions written to support different browsers. Predictably, many companies decided to "standardize" their websites on one browser (usually Internet Explorer), causing much pain for users who wanted or needed to use other programs.

Out of this mess came the web standards movement, whose goal was to encourage browser-agnostic design practices. However, the web standards proponents faced several problems at the outset. "Standards compliant design" was synonymous with "ugly." CSS was a 4-letter word, due to buggy and inconsistent browser support. Additionally, few people understood that standards compliance was a continuum and not an all-or-nothing affair.

Which brings us to Zeldman's book. Part 1 of DWWS explains the concepts above in terms that non-technical people can understand. The book states that it is for "designers, developers, owners, and managers..." Of course, the idea that a non-technical person would choose to read a book on web standards doesn't comply with what I like to call "reality." But tech leads may find some ammunition in these chapters for their arguments with management about the benefits of browser-neutral web design.

XHTML and CSS are the main focus of the second part of the book. Readers without any HTML experience will likely have difficulty following these chapters. Those with some experience will learn to master the DOCTYPE, tame font sizes, and conquer annoying Internet Explorer bugs.

Zeldman is a pragmatist, never forgetting that his readers live in the real world with real limitations. Some developers still have to support older browsers, or integrate with proprietary technologies (ex: Flash and Quicktime). He recommends solutions for these circumstances, letting his audience know the pros and cons of each approach. Early in the book, Zeldman states his motto of "No Rules. No Dogma." The book adheres to that statement, explaining that some standards can be maddeningly vague, or that the XHTML Strict DOCTYPE isn't for everyone.

As always, Internet Explorer 6 requires special attention. The (in)famous CSS box model hack is explained, in which jujitsu-like techniques are used to fix one IE bug (the way width is measured) by exploiting another (broken support for the CSS voice-family rule):

.content
{
width:400px; /* All browsers read this line */
voice-family: "\"}\""; /* IE chokes here and bails out of this block */
voice-family:inherit;
width:300px; /* Other browsers make it to the end and use the correct width */
}

Every time someone codes this, a kitten dies. But it is valid markup, and it is used by many standards supporters. A few references to IE7's improvements are sprinkled here and there, but this book was published before the browser was formally released so don't expect too much info.

One of the hottest topics in CSS is the pure CSS-based layout. Pure CSS layouts usually involve the concept of floating elements and calculating widths. In DWWS, we get a chapter dedicated to the hybrid layout. Hybrid layouts make use of CSS and HTML tables to layout a page, although the table usage is minimized. Zeldman is correct to take this approach, which gives readers practical advice and then lets them decide if they want to move on to more complicated CSS layouts.

The chapter on accessibility is one of the most illuminating. Zeldman has well-reasoned retorts to all the common graphic designer excuses for ignoring accessibility. Accessibility does not mean that a site has to be ugly. Rather, accessibility is something that happens under the hood, in the markup itself. The business case for accessibility is also strongly made. Think you can ignore blind users because your flashy site targets a small, hip audience? Be prepared to get punished by Google, since the GoogleBot is the most powerful blind user on the web ("The Blind Billionaire", as it is called in the book).

A brief chapter is dedicated to DOM-based scripting (aka JavaScript), and the discussion is mostly limited to what scripting can do, and not how to do it. The DOM (Document Object Model) is the model for describing the hierarchy of content on a webpage. Modern techniques like AJAX make extensive use of the intimate relationship between XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript DOM support. However, accessibility, usability, and maintainability are still challenges in the hyper-scripted world of Web 2.0. Zeldman doesn't offer much advice on these topics, but provides a book list for further reading.

I have not read the first edition of DWWS, but the second edition makes it clear where Zeldman has changed tactics and techniques. For example, the image replacement technique described in the first edition wasn't accessible in certain screen readers, so improvements are suggested in the second edition.

Overall, DWWS is a good book for web developers that already know the basics of HTML and CSS, but want to update their 1997 coding techniques. Those new to web design, however, may want to start with a book that is a little more comprehensive. Zeldman does a good job of explaining how to create leaner, lower-cost, and more maintainable web sites. On more than one occasion, I put down this book mid-sentence, loaded up my text editor, and was able to make a quick change to solve a problem that was bugging me. In a book dedicate to making the web designer's life easier, what more can you ask for?

Trent Lucier is a software engineer. His latest experiment is localhost80.com


You can purchase Designing With Web Standards, 2nd Ed. from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Designing With Web Standards

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  • In my experience, you can do it with standards, or you can make it look like the client wants it to look like, which requires at least two sets of scripts for the diferent browsers. Then you run into things like ActiveX maps and OWC objects and give up on it working in anything other then IE. Then you go have a stiff drink.
    • That's never been my experience. 99% of the time I can get things to look just about the same (or close enough) in every browser. For example, if the floating divs are acting different in each browser, use a table. There's nothing that's ever been requested of my company that requires ActiveX. Worst case we use Flash for a few things, and that works consistently for almost every visitor. Unless you're developing for an intranet there's no reason to use ActiveX or IE specific code.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kenja ( 541830 )
        I'm doing web dashboards for 6SIGMA and ISO systems. I'm trying to hammer together OWC, ActiveX, Lotus Domino, Apache, JBoss, mySQL, Flash objects, kettle, jfree reports, and a bunch of other stuff.

        If it works in any browser at all I'll call it a sucsess.
      • by metlin ( 258108 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @04:54PM (#17104192) Journal
        Obviously you have not had to interact or work with other third party applications. Try having a Siebel app look exactly the same on Firefox. :-\

        A lot of these applications use almost entirely ActiveX and simply do not work well with alternate browsers. It simply isn't possible, and sometimes you just have to resort to having the app supported on just one browser.

        Then why do companies use them? Legacy.

        You see, these apps have been around forever, and people have been using them forever with a lot of investment made into them, and folks aren't ready to just give it all up. Of course, they ignore such things as TCO (e.g. having a Microsoft environment with IE, money spent on security and combating worms etc).

        So, the end result is problems like this.
        • When I have to deal with third party apps that aren't built to integrate well with web standards we set up some form of data communication between servers. The web interface remains standard while the backend communicates in any way necessary, from SOAP to raw data feeds, with other systems.
          • by metlin ( 258108 )
            Sure, if the said applications support such communication.

            What if they are intentionally built to obfuscate and prevent such communication (i.e. lock-in).

            Most CRM apps out there are built that way, which makes it extremely hard for external applications to interface and work with these applications.
      • by Geof ( 153857 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @05:20PM (#17104568) Homepage

        For example, if the floating divs are acting different in each browser, use a table.

        Standards-based design is not just about browser compatibility. It's also about separating style from content. Tables are for tabular data, not graphic design. What you describe is the HTML equivalent of spaghetti code, and it's one of the main targets of Zeldman [alistapart.com] and other of proponents of standards-based design.

        HTML (unlike, say, PDF) is not a layout language. Tags are meant to describe the content they enclose, not specify how it is to be displayed. It is the job of CSS to present that content in different contexts. Violating that separation, for example using tables for layout, makes maintenance difficult because content and style cannot be modified independently. It denies users the ability to re-style your content (e.g. with custom stylesheets). It creates barriers to accessibility for those who do not interact with computers visually (e.g. those with disabilities), or who use other devices to access the web. It misrepresents the content of web pages to machine analysis - search engines, for example, use tags to determine the role and importance of text on a page.

        Of course, the reality of the HTML and CSS standards and their support in popular (*cough*) browsers is somewhat different. It is sometimes necessary or practical to misuse HTML as you describe. But it should not be done without an understanding of the standards and the consequences of ignoring them. Books like Zeldman's give designers and developers the knowledge and tools they need to use HTML and CSS correctly where possible, and to minimize abuse otherwise.

        For some reason, programmers seem to be trailing designers when it comes to understanding how to use HTML and CSS correctly. They figure if it looks right, it must be right. That was certainly my attitude. Perhaps it's because we don't take designers or HTML seriously ("it's not Turing complete!"). I don't know. But do read Zeldman or Eric Meyer or someone like them, either in hardcopy or online. Knowing how do this stuff right made me a much better web programmer.

        • by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @05:26PM (#17104632)

          Standards-based design is not just about browser compatibility. It's also about separating style from content.

          There's a strong correlation between people who adhere to the W3C's specifications and people who separate content from presentation, but that doesn't mean that they are the same thing. <font> and <table> are in the HTML 4 and XHTML 1.0 specifications.

          Conflating the two leads to people claiming stupid things, like that they are writing "standard" code because they use CSS, when in fact their code is non-standard and full of hacks.

          I know over the past few years "web standards" has become a popular buzzword, but there's a difference between best practices and conformance to particular specifications. Just because it's a good thing, it doesn't mean the specifications require it, and jujst because it's in the specifications, it doesn't mean it's a good thing.

          • by Geof ( 153857 )

            There's a strong correlation between people who adhere to the W3C's specifications and people who separate content from presentation, but that doesn't mean that they are the same thing.

            Good point. I simplified for clarity; maybe I shouldn't have. In the article I linked to, Zeldman talks about adhering to the spirit of the standards, not merely the letter. As your example shows, the letter sometimes violates the spirit.

          • is deprecated in xhtml 1.0 strict (AFAIK), and ? table tags are perfectly valid WHEN they contain tabular data, not as a layout tool. So they won't be removing that one any time soon.
      • by FST777 ( 913657 ) <frans-jan@v[ ]st ... t ['an-' in gap]> on Monday December 04, 2006 @06:10PM (#17105244) Homepage
        Exactly.

        I develop some pretty interesting apps with ECMA-script and CSS, and my practise is this:
        1. Write a piece of code with standards in the back of your head, and test it with Firefox. Then retest in Konqueror (I'm an avid KDE-user).
        2. Code the whole app this way
        3. Boot into Windows, test with IE7. Not much changes needed, 99% works.
        4. Fire up IE6. Cry, and regain temper.
        5. Adjust so that IE6 works, without breaking the original functionality. Don't use browser-checks. They'll bite your ass later.
        6. Test in Opera. Most just works when it already does in FF and IE6, so no harm there.
        7. Retest everything cautiously in all five mentioned browsers and adjust as needed. IE7 might pose a problem due to the fixes for IE6.
        All in all, the basic coding still is the major part of programming for me. The adjusting for the different browsers is not that much of a hassle.

        Standards are nice, but when it works with Gecko, IE6, IE7, KHTML and Opera, it's good enough. For basic webpages, Lynx is also a testbed for me (with regard to spiders).
    • That's because most of the time we fail to explain to the client the importance of not putting the UI on the backburner.

      IE allows to develop a page rapidly and make it look pretty in IE only. I actually suspect MS to have done a lot of work to find out how most developers work, find out how they'd want to do things and then make IE to allow them to do that. Who cares if it standard or not.

      That's how you develop IE-dependency, have developers be able to get their work done faster and force them to put a "bes
      • by Kenja ( 541830 )
        More or less. If you say it will cost twice as much and take twice as long to support another 15-20% of the market thats a losing argument.
        • a developer usually doesn't have to spend THAT much more time making a UI that works everywhere, as long as its known from the start.

          Usually the browser support drops right about when the boss starts giving in to all the bells and whistles features the client wants.

          All usual, its always a game of give and take. and there's always a point where it costs too much in terms of development time to do it all so you narrow it down to FF and IE for instance.

          but, most of the time, it is feasible to deliver a good ui
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by grcumb ( 781340 )

          If you say it will cost twice as much and take twice as long to support another 15-20% of the market thats a losing argument.

          Look, I failed math three years running in high school, but it still only took me about 1.7 seconds to spot the logical flaws in your equation:

          • If you believe that using CSS and web standards take twice as long and cost twice as much, then you've never seriously tried to use them. And you've certainly never had to manage style changes over tens or hundreds of thousands of document
      • IE allows to develop a page rapidly and make it look pretty in IE only

        I dunno, on my current project I had to develop a prototype/mock-up of our web GUI. I stuck IE7 on one monitor, FF2 on the other and pointed them both to the page I was working on. Edit, save, click "Refresh" on two browsers and see exactly what the clients will see. Worked just the same when I got the layout done and started working on the javascript.

        Fortunately, it's a web app, not a shopping site. I'm sure I'd have the same problems real web designers have if I had to have lots of flashy graphics wi

    • by gblues ( 90260 )

      In my experience, you can do it with standards, or you can do it so it renders properly in Internet Explorer.

      Nathan

      • In my experience, you can do it with standards, or you can do it so it renders properly in Internet Explorer.

        Nathan

        That's a common problem when you're just starting w/ standards. Just making sure IE's running in standards mode (by giving it a doctype and such) fixes most of the ugliest IE CSS rendering bugs, and there are ways around the others.

    • You set it up in a layout table and use CSS to control what it can be relied upon to control consistently.
    • by spyrral ( 162842 )
      In my experience, I've always been able to use web standards and compliant hacks to get the site looking the way the client wants. I never write multiple sets of scripts; instead I rely on proven "object-sniffing" code to branch for different js implementations, or better yet use a library that abstarts browser differences for me.

      I've worked with a lot of developers that have used that kind of "pragmatism" to excuse the fact that they don't want to bother learning new techniques. They always end up creating
    • I think you got the order wrong, Start with the stiff drink, it makes the other steps go down easier.
    • That is also my experience. On the project I work on we have always tried to adhere to standards (some of our users come from environments where IE is just not available), this has had the effect that I havent had to think about browser compatibility in about 2 years. We have still managed to create a site that is constantly getting kudos from our customers and the big boys in the company, yet we havent sacrificed any usability by following standards. As far as I am concerned ActiveX, OWC, Ajax and Flash
    • In my experience, you can do it with standards, or you can make it look like the client wants it to look like, which requires at least two sets of scripts for the diferent browsers

      It requires two sets of scripts to get it to look a certain way? What kinds of scripts are these, that are controlling the "look" of the web page, and why are you writing two?

      Then you run into things like ActiveX maps and OWC objects and give up on it working in anything other then IE.

      Sounds like a good reason not to use Act

  • I would love to see a listing of all the CSS and HTML that is fully-supported by both IE7 and Gecko. That would allow me to Write-It-Once and still stick to what the W3C says. I have no interest in CSS that only works in one of the Big Two browsers.
    • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @04:23PM (#17103748)
      Now that would be a good book. "Designing with Web Standards that are Followed."
    • I would love to see a listing of all the CSS and HTML that is fully-supported by both IE7 and Gecko.

      Don't forget IE6 if your project is of any level of importance. It's got at least another two years of being significant enough to keep web designers hating themselves. If only it could die a quick death...

      I can't comment on the book, but what makes A List Apart great is that it focuses on coding to standards and making IE work. It's not that hard once you spend enough nights struggling with it that you just sort of know what to attempt to get it to do. Resources like A List Apart can really give some i

      • Unfortunately... (Score:2, Interesting)

        Many of the more persistent issues in IE6 aren't due to impelementation of the CSS standard (or lack thereof), but rather of bugs. I mean, sweet baggigty, how on Earth can you predict if IE6 is going to double the margin on a floated element or not? Hell, it's a "here today, gone tomorrow" issue for a full-time web designer.

        And don't get me started on the peekaboo bug. That one alone took me a day and a half to figure out. For the most part, IE7 will respect web standards (and hell, even better than Firef

    • Not exactly what you're looking for, but this is a good place to start: http://www.webdevout.net/browser_support.php [webdevout.net]
  • I must say. (Score:1, Informative)

    by zwilliams07 ( 840650 )
    As an owner of the first edition, it is a must own title for anyone into webdesign and programming. If only Microsoft started to adhere to the W3C specification, the world would be a better place.
    • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @04:35PM (#17103926) Homepage Journal
      Microsoft did start adhering to the standards. They just stopped long before they were done.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
        Microsoft did start adhering to the standards. They just stopped long before they were done.

        They actually *created* a noticeable chunk of said standards.
        Microsoft employees were part of the CSS, XML, XHTML creation committees and had significant contributions to those standards.

        You can however understand that a commercial company where time is money and money is matter of survival in a market developing with a furious pace would be disappointed at the speed at which W3C works.

        IE6 was abandoned for no other
        • by Bogtha ( 906264 )

          You can however understand that a commercial company where time is money and money is matter of survival in a market developing with a furious pace would be disappointed at the speed at which W3C works.

          Don't make me laugh. Microsoft still haven't come anywhere close to finishing their CSS 2 implementation, the specification for which was published over eight years ago. The same goes for other specifications - for example, they've only just finished PNG, and that specification was published over a d

          • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
            Don't make me laugh. Microsoft still haven't come anywhere close to finishing their CSS 2 implementation, the specification for which was published over eight years ago. The same goes for other specifications - for example, they've only just finished PNG, and that specification was published over a decade ago. You simply can't call the W3C too slow for Microsoft when it's Microsoft that can't keep up with the W3C.

            If you think Microsoft has problems implementing rendering engines and image parsers/manipulato
    • If only Microsoft started to adhere to the W3C specification, the world would be a better place.

      If only Mozilla started to adhere to MS's specifications, the world would be an equally better place. I don't really think that there's anything particularly special or important about the W3C that makes their arbitary standards better than somebody else's arbitrary standards.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I don't really think that there's anything particularly special or important about the W3C that makes their arbitary standards better than somebody else's arbitrary standards.

        Too bad the standards aren't arbitrary. The W3C is an international consortium [w3.org] which holds meetings to try and get a consensus on what a web standard should be. Microsoft is part of this consortium [w3.org] but even after agreeing to the standards, chooses to ignore them.

        So who's fault is it again for not following the standards?

      • They have specifications that are generally clear as to what the intent is, and don't rely on proprietary technologies like DirectX?

        Personally, I like background-image:url(foo.png) alot better than filter:progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.AlphaImag eLoader(src='foo.png',sizingMethod='crop'); ...

        But then, that's just me. BTW, you have a really fucked up notion of "equally better".
      • by Builder ( 103701 )
        I don't really think that there's anything particularly special or important about the W3C that makes their arbitary standards better than somebody else's arbitrary standards.

        How about the fact that I can contribute to W3C standards, but not MS standards. How about the fact that I can actually drive new standards from scratch with W3C but not MS?

    • As an owner of the first edition, it is a must own title for anyone into webdesign and programming. If only Microsoft started to adhere to the W3C specification, the world would be a better place.

      Yea, I got the first edition years ago then when I found out the second ed came out I got it right away. I'd like to get a good book on CSS too, perhaps one of Meyers. What I'd really like to get though is a good book on accessibility, while following web standards helps a lot there's more to accessibility than

  • Interesting. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    A book on standards that decries rules and dogma. Only on Slashdot could this garner an 8.5.

    It sounds like this should have been two books -- one about the history of web standards, and one about how to design for the web, optionally complying with standards.

    Picking and choosing which ones you'll follow is about as useful as just writing what you know will work for everyone, except it's a bigger pain in the ass. At the end, you have the same thing: A website that doesn't actually follow any standard. How
  • yeah (Score:4, Funny)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld@gma ... m minus language> on Monday December 04, 2006 @04:35PM (#17103932) Homepage
    Like I'm going to take advice on how things should look from a guy with a moustache.
  • by fractalus ( 322043 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @04:55PM (#17104196) Homepage
    For old hacks who are thoroughly used to table-based layouts, as the only kluge that worked consistently, CSS is a tough sell. From an old rant on this topic [damienmjones.com] where I quote a friend of mine who builds sites:


    See I'm not a fan of the pure CSS sites. [It] makes updates and general maintenance a pain. We've done a few sites that way and they are the ones I hate working on when [the] client calls with updates, enhancements, etc. ... I can make a table and format a page in two seconds, versus looking up styles or creating new ones, using guess and check, checking all browsers. ... Tables don't cause any problems if they're done correctly, so why make my life more difficult to use pure CSS, when 9 [out of] 10 times the site is going to be very graphically driven.


    That was from a year ago. Now even he has seen the light and is starting to build standards-based sites. It just took a while.

    One invaluable resource for identifying browser CSS support is this page [webdevout.net] which has nice pretty colors showing the amount of support.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by soliptic ( 665417 )
      What a genuinely bizarre thing to say.

      CSS ... makes updates and general maintenance a pain. We've done a few sites that way and they are the ones I hate working on when [the] client calls with updates, enhancements, etc

      Updates/maintenance is one of CSS's strongest points. Client wants all the links green instead of red? Look in my style.css, change a { color:#f00; } to a { color:#0f0; } - instead of pick through 50 pages looking for every <font> tag inside an <a> tag. Client wants the l
    • by Shados ( 741919 )
      The problem I see is that CSS in its current form (even if it was fully supported), still has certain things that aren't quite doable. Or they ARE doable. With 15 nested div tags. Not much better than table layouts.

      Mind you, table layouts suck bad, but you do have decent tools that can help a tiny bit. Pure CSS layout tools are -just- starting to come out. Mind you (before I get flamed for daring mention using anything beyond notepad/vim/emacs to do HTML/CSS) these tools are just helpers, and should neve
      • by sehryan ( 412731 )
        "The problem I see is that CSS in its current form (even if it was fully supported), still has certain things that aren't quite doable. Or they ARE doable. With 15 nested div tags."

        I know you are exaggerating, but any experienced CSS designer doesn't need anywhere near that many divs. In fact, the only div tags I use are to outline the larger block elements (header, content, footer), plus an extra "container" div, just to cover my bases. Everything else can usually be done just by manipulating the tags wi
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Shados ( 741919 )
          If it wasn't for IE, yeah. What I had in mind when i made my exageration was vertical centering, which depending on your needs tend to take 3 div tags to make it perfectly cross-browser and working peachy in pure CSS.

          I've looked for some trick that I could be missing, but everywhere I looked, it tend to be that. Of course, you can lower the amount needed by using, as you send, the inside elements, but often its still required to have quite a few too many divs. Being able to use display:table-cell in IE w
  • Do we really need another standards book? First of all this thing is going to be defunct within at least 6 months and second I don't know a single self-respecting web developer that cracks a book when working on a site. Yeah, I just skimmed the article but it just seemed like a total rehash of the last five or six books that were thrown up here. I mean, if it were an E-Book of some sort then I might be into it because I could reference it while working at my station but honestly if its got a spine and paper
    • if it were an E-Book of some sort then I might be into it because I could reference it while working at my station but honestly if its got a spine and paper then I dont have time to get my fat butt out of my chair and go to the shelf to look up a technique when I could just as easily find it in two seconds on google.

      This may be true for you but it's not for everyone. My book shelf is easily within an arm's reach from my desk and I can grab a reference book off the shelf, check the index, and flip to the

  • Tragedy (Score:2, Funny)

    by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
    Hybrid layouts make use of CSS and HTML tables to layout a page, although the table usage is minimized. Zeldman is correct to take this approach, which gives readers practical advice...

    I felt a powerful disturbance in the force, as if thousands of CSS-P zealots died reading this.
    • by Shados ( 741919 )
      Honestly enough, there's some wisdom in that approach. I mean, other environments do tend to use both tables and styling "rules" together to get the desired result...take Java Swing for example.

      Sometime a very limited and careful use of tables (not a bunch of nested tables garbage) can make the site easier to maintain, and ::gasps:: use less markup. Doesn't help rendering speed though.

      And obviously, if the site is supposed to be accessible, its not an option...
      • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
        Honestly enough, there's some wisdom in that approach. I mean, other environments do tend to use both tables and styling "rules" together to get the desired result...take Java Swing for example.

        Of course there is, I hope you sense my irony. I don't sweat if I have to use a simple 2-3 cell table to achieve a layout that is ridiculous to achieve with CSS.

        The only reliable CSS layout technique in terms of main page sections is now faux columns. It only works with fixed width (adaptation for flexible width are
      • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
        And obviously, if the site is supposed to be accessible, its not an option...

        Oh and that's a myth haunting us from 1995-6 by the way. Tables are as accessible as they can be nowadays, especially if used in moderation.
        • Oh and that's a myth haunting us from 1995-6 by the way. Tables are as accessible as they can be nowadays, especially if used in moderation.

          Ever experienced a table with a screen reader or braille display? True tested and used in moderation tables can be accessible but how many do the testing?

          Falcon
          • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
            Ever experienced a table with a screen reader or braille display?

            Yes, JAWS and HAL.

            True tested and used in moderation tables can be accessible but how many do the testing?

            Your point being?
            • True tested and used in moderation tables can be accessible but how many do the testing?

              Your point being?

              My point is that many who use tables for layouts do not make sure they are accessible.

              Falcon
  • Just painful, at least until you get used to it. I'm trying to develop an entire web based (graphical, 2d overhead) MMO, following XHTML 1.1 and CSS standards. PHP and Javascript for life :)
    • by Shados ( 741919 )
      If you can use javascript to help with some more complex positioning (especialy relative resizing and such), XHTML 1.1 really isn't bad at all. Then you reduce the extra "just for CSS" divs that wouldn't normally be there to a minimum, and keep your HTML page squeeky clean. Not always possible, but often a nice alternative. Especialy since afterward your page can still be accessible (since the page structure is preserved), it still renders faster than html, and its often easier to maintain, and it makes cro
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ubernostrum ( 219442 )

        If you can use javascript to help with some more complex positioning (especialy relative resizing and such), XHTML 1.1 really isn't bad at all.

        Um. Yes. Yes, it is. XHTML 1.1 is an utterly useless format, but not for reasons having anything to do with CSS; per the W3C's notes on media types for XHTML, XHTML 1.1 should be served with the MIME-type application/xhtml+xml, and never with the MIME-type text/html. But Internet Explorer, even IE7, does not understand this MIME-type (though, to be fair, they'v

        • by Shados ( 741919 )
          I see where you're getting from, and I agree. Trust me, I hate all this web standard garbage, but since for the time being its what we have to deal with, I try to make the best of it.

          When i said XHTML 1.1, I meant it as the "street definition" (so to speak): "It validates on the w3c validator as XHTML 1.1 compliant".

          No, it doesn't have the advantages of real XML served this way, but its clean and streamlined, thus for now, it gets the job done.
          Sorry for the confusion
          • No, it doesn't have the advantages of real XML served this way, but its clean and streamlined, thus for now, it gets the job done.

            So does HTML 4, only it gets the job done without any of the hassle...

  • Item 7 was a surprise:

    http://www.librarything.com/unsuggester/1426655 [librarything.com]
  • As a web developer of 7 years as my main source of income, web standards is a waste of time. Personally I try to adhere to them as much as humanely [no, that's not a typo] possible. "Web Standards" changes constantly with what is "in" and "cool." Right now the big thing is AJAX. I, personally, have never used it and I suggest everyone else does the same. Except in situations like Google's Writely. Web Applications are useful, but not necessarily worth the effort. Because "Standards" never actually stay put,
    • Huh? You have to be trolling.

      "Web Standards" changes constantly with what is "in" and "cool."

      You do realise that more time has passed since the publication of CSS2 (yes the latest released version), than passed between the invention of the web itself and said publication date? ie the latest version of that standard spec has been out for over half the webs entire lifetime. That standard was published before the majority of web designers these days even started designing websites.

      Until just recently, there wa
      • Huh? You have to be trolling.

        No. Just stating how I feel about the current situation.

        Do you know how hard it is to try and stay in a business that constantly evolves based on what is cool? I was not stating literally that the standards move with trends. Note the quotes around Web Standards and Standards throughout my post. But I guess morons like you fail to read what is actually being said and like to go with the flow. You are one of them! Burn in hell you dolt!

        I am very well aware as to what I sa

        • by hazah ( 807503 )
          I have developed "real sites for real money" and I say you're full of shit. Either that, or you're in the wrong profession. To miss something this obvious is absolutely astounding.
          • Yet another moron.
            Do I have to repeat it?
            Note: Due to certain reasons, this post may or may not necessarily be entirely serious. You be the judge. Don't take shit so fucking literally.
  • Who was the idiot that decided now that we use css for our layouts that tables and such can just be deprecated. Tableless layouts are NOT a good idea, although the need for tables has dropped significantly since the introduction of css.

    For example, in the header of my site, I want 3 columns, a left,right, center, with different aligns on each.

    The "CSS" solution would look something like this.
    <div class="header">
    <div style="float:left;text-align:left"> Left Content </div>
    <d
    • Nothing brings home a rant about poor web design like wrapping your post in <tt>.

      Well done! </sarcasm>

      If you were a serious contributor, you'd define "poor HTML production". What has hampered the web more than anything else is poor interpretation of existing standards . If nothing else, the first browser wars did their best to annihilate as many "standards" as possible.

      On the web, MSFT may have a point; even if it isn't good, it should look good. Using hybrid or even table-based layouts i

    • I totally agree. I tried to be a CSS-zealot for a while. I even made the mistake of trying to totally avoid tables except for 'tabular data' and I am seriously paying the price for it now in the application I'm working on. It's very tempting to go back and rework it so that I don't have to worry about it any more.

      The issue? jQuery. There's a TON of neat things like slide and calendar than simply break my CSS, no matter what I do. If I'd designed more simply, with a well-placed table or 2, then I'd hav
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by HaMMeReD3 ( 891549 )
        Well the goal of any good developer should be to implement the solution as elegantly and simply as possible. Being a css-zealot is not bad, as long as you don't go out of your way to say "look what css can do". It's about using the right tools for the job at hand.
    • It's funny, first you say that using tables for layout is justified, then the rest of the post is the argument that the HTML should reflect the nature of the content, which can then be styled by CSS. Which is of course exactly the argument against using tables, since after all your entire page is not tabular data.

      I've been having more fun with HTML since I really "got" seperating content and style; you find out about new tags you never knew about, like <address>, and I didn't even know about <dl

    • Leaving aside solving your problems with making robust layouts with CSS . . .

      It's good css practice (not professional practice, educational FOR LEARNING practice) to write a site completely in div or spans, but most these other tags are not going anywhere soon, and provide context for your document, for example, in a layout I'm working on now, I use styled ol to achieve the same effect that I would traditionally get from a table. I could also achieve the same effect using a series of divs or with styled tab

  • When someone makes a site that's IE only, he's not just hurting firefox and opera users. It makes it much more difficult for it to be compatible with future versions of IE. Such short sighted thinking...

People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.

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