Website developers must choose between cascading style sheets (CSS layouts) and table based layouts, both of which perform differently and have advantages and disadvantages. These layouts also raise issues of accessibility. Fortunately, however, there are courses of action that web developers may take to address these issues regardless of the layout they choose for a website (“CSS Layouts Vs. Table Layouts”). Table based layouts have been used by web developers for quite a long time. In fact, more than ninety five percent of web sites are created using these layouts.
There are plenty of accessibility and compatibility issues that must be addressed when choosing these layouts despite the fact that there is an abundance of web browsers available nowadays. Before these issues are appropriately addressed, a web site created using the table layout may not be fully functional. Other facts about these layouts is that they are easy to implement as well as to use. As a matter of fact, CSS based layouts are much harder to use and implement as compared to table based layouts.
Moreover, WYSIWYG editors or ‘What You See Is What You Get’ editors such as Frontpage or Dreamweaver make it quite easy for web developers to include table layouts. Nevertheless, tables are known to break on a number of web browsers – both old and new versions. This produces dysfunctions in the layout. Yet another problem associated with table layouts is that they unnecessarily increase the HTML/text ratio. To address this problem, web developers could use other options to create layouts that employ fewer HTML tags, thereby producing “smaller page files” (“CSS Layouts Vs. Table Layouts”).
Since there are ways to counteract problems associated with table layouts, both heavy and simpler web sites continue to employ them (“CSS Layouts Vs. Table Layouts”). Still, it is necessary for web developers to understand the problems in depth before opting for table layouts. A web page created by Mardinos reports on the most serious problems with table layouts thus: Among the many issues related to tables, the most disturbing one (for users as well as web developers) is browser compatibility. Among the most common browsers today, we see Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera and Mozilla.
However, there are several versions of each on the market. This means that web sites should be tested on as many versions as possible in order to obtain an accurate compatibility analysis. During the compatibility analysis we see that on other browsers than Internet Explorer the table layout “breaks”. We see gaps that should not be there, or weird positioning of cells or even thicker rows or columns than intended. Such issues require a lot of extra effort and time on the developers’ part to fix. Strangely enough, a table layout can even look broken on Netscape 6.
x due to the DOCTYPE declaration at the beginning of the source file (“CSS Layouts Vs. Table Layouts”). . As mentioned previously, there are ways to circumvent the problems associated with table based layouts. One of the solutions is, of course, to use CSS instead. These sheets have been in use for text formatting for quite some time. Web developers have recently begun to use them for layouts as well as positioning, too. Although these layouts are time-consuming and quite difficult to implement, web developers may find that the advantages of implementing them far outweigh the costs.
The most important features of CSS based layouts are the following: (1) They are usually supported by newer versions of web browsers, but not the older ones; (2) They allow a great deal of flexibility in terms of positioning; (3) They increase usability because they encourage “liquid design;” (4) They keep the HTML/text ratios at low levels, thereby decreasing the time it takes to load a web site; and (5) They allow display of the main content of a web page before loading graphics (“CSS Layouts Vs. Table Layouts”).
Yet another advantage of CSS based layouts is that web sites created with them are easy for disabled persons to access. People who are disabled have to use “alternative browsers,” e. g. screen readers, braille browsers, speech output browsers, and text browsers (“CSS Layouts Vs. Table Layouts”). But, using these browsers may be quite painful for users when table based layouts are employed. On the contrary, web sites that are heavy with graphics or those that use elements that are inaccessible to the disabled persons could use CSS based layouts by placing all such elements towards the end of the source code.
In this way, regular browsers would show the proper layout with visuals to normal users, while browsers for disabled persons would “render the simplified, informational content” to users that are disabled (“CSS Layouts Vs. Table Layouts”). Indeed, this is a significant advantage of CSS based layouts. All the same, the simplicity of table based layouts remains popular among web developers. References CSS Layouts Vs. Table Layouts – Alternate Browsers and Accessibility Issues. Mardiros. Retrieved Feb 12, 2007, from http://www. mardiros. net/css-layout. html.
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