Really? I agree with using divs and css to display content for what I think is a pretty simple reason – if I want to change the look of my site I can write a new style sheet using the same div IDs and the site is suddenly completely different. Positioning property is basically used to alter the element's natural layout flow position on the page and customize it according to our needs. If you find yourself needing hacks then most likely you haven’t thought out your structure all that well. I would have to say,use divs and tables for what they are designed for. I’m sure with html5 some people will be converted to using all css layouts, but I’m also sure many will still cling to tables as they do now. Home / Blog / CSS / CSS vs Tables: The Debate That Won’t Die. I developed a few personal websites back in 1999 and used tables throughout them all. Luckily, modern sites have actually become pretty basic. In this case, it is almost impossible to get CSS only to render this as desired, either the width or the height of the side banner will be wrong, or the background image will appear to “disappear” or not be long enough, or be too long, or the content will bleed over into the side banner if you change the width of the browser. You have to look at the bigger picture instead of focusing in on one aspect of that picture. John all 3 of the sites you list can definitely be developed using css for the layout instead of tables. CSS is not hard to learn.The argument is made by people comparing learning something new to learning something they already know well. Outside of some special occasions you should never have to resize a div or it’s margin and padding because you updated the text inside of it. I’ve been doing web design since the beginning of the internet as a hobby and now professionally and I like a combination of both worlds. Now you can start including any layouts, Basic & advanced controls to start building UI. Legacy Layout Techniques vs Modern Layout Tools. What’s the difference? It’s a great way to learn. Do a search for css vs tables or similar and you can find a lot out there. And if you want to use a wysiwyg editor, they just don’t work properly anymore in 2019. It might be a few days before I can get to it, but I will take a look. Thanks Emma. The conclusion is I don’t know the language well enough to communicate in it. One issue is that different browsers have different deffinitions of the padding and the margin variables. Oddly as grids become more and more in use they’re sometimes developed in a way that attempts to recreate a table using css. Well, don’t let “the experts” intimidate you from pursuing excellence in your CSS competence! CSS Grid. CSS Grid Layout is a CSS layout method developed for the two-dimensional layout of items on a webpage or an application, meaning it can manage both columns and rows. Divs don’t require complicated css. I don’t know about you, but generally speaking what my clients want most often is to update the content. It is often used when the production is to be performed on a large scale whereas in process layout is a type of plant layout wherein like machines are grouped in a single department. Tables are typically used to display tabular data, such as financial reports. Meaning they take up the appropriate amount of space they are supposed to take up. 2. Key Difference: The Table tag was initially made to add and control tables in a website. I’ve done that for people before. I can’t go selling a 10 MS speed advantage to anyone and expect them to take me seriously. Using "Div+css" to lay out a Web site in a way that is typically used to illustrate the difference between how an HTML table is positioned. Out of curiosity can you offer an advantage of table-based layout over divs and css? I support reasonable use of tables for backward compatibility. display: flex vs. display: inline-flex). 3. Once to understand the structure and another time to present it. Years ago it moved away from tables and towards divs and css for layout. One example, is to have a banner across the top, a “side banner” down the left, with a background image that must align with the top banner in the corner, and then content within the area below the top banner and to the right of the side banner. Then, I can see how they styled it in the source code. (i know there’s gotta be one but that’s almost another argument for CSS over tables… multiple ways you can go about it even). It’s usually one or two things that may cause a problem and those problems are easily fixed. If I misinterpreted that I apologize. Using table-layouted HTML3.2 pages will never guarantee everybody gets a nice rendering out of it. You can do that regardless … Now that they have indicated that load times will be a ranking factor I would agree that divs make more sense. CSS Tables are valid technique as floats or positioning. At least my code doesn’t use tables for the site layout. With equal column heights, yes it’s easier to create them with tables than with divs alone, though if you look at the last of the 4 methods I described you’ll see it’s not hard to create them with divs and css and it still uses less code than using tables. And yes it is true that you don’t much need extra code to get things to work for IE. I mentioned at the start of this post that misinformation spreads on both sides of this debate. As for your disadvantage I have to disagree. Anyway, the real reason I wanted to comment here is because I think it is hilarious that I’ve been reading people bashing table layouts and saying they can’t stand any website that uses tables, then I view the source code and they are commenting on a page that uses tables! Also if you include the wrapper tags and the like you tend to end up with more tags for css than tables beause of all the work arounds you have to do. Is there a way I can pay someone to turn this same homepage design into a total CSS design? You can use css with a table-based layout. To me it seems so obvious that using divs over tables is the better approach that I have a hard time understanding how someone would argue otherwise. It has nothing to do with other tools. Why does it matter how divs are rendered as long as the document written with strong conventions and good semantics? Can’t be done, we have faux columns but that’s really just ‘green screen trickery’ in doing so. I wrote it to answer the question. This post is framed the way it is, because it’s a reaction to posts framing the topic as html tables are better than css. If table tags were called tags, nobody would be complaining, and there would be no ongoing debate. Proving that the css layout loads 10ms faster (20ms when I just ran the test on your site) doesn’t exactly endorse using tables instead? After-all the 3 column layout with equal height is referred to as the holy-grail in css, enough said! A div-based layout is: That might not seem like a lot, but just those three things are enough to make a div based approach better to a table based approach. Thanks for this. I don’t think the choice is about shape though. Much of the time I don’t have to write anything specific for IE. In fact your reply only makes it clear you don’t know to build sites using divs and css. And now it’s 10 years later, 2019, WYSIWYG editors are no longer WYSIWYG but a complicated and incomprehensible hodgepodge, only one of which automatically adjusts for the many mobile device and display sizes, loading time is irrelevant and I’m about to do a site with tables. That’s not an apples to apples comparison. I’m not disagreeing with anything you say. Tables have proven themselves and I’m going old school. You can probably also wrap the code in a blockquote. C’mon man! Hopefully people will start accepting table-cell or something similar. Its the default positioning value and every element will use this value, unless otherwise stated. Heavy image use and Flash still seem to be the biggest factors in speed. Topic: HTML / CSS Prev|Next Answer: Use the CSS padding & border-spacing property. I had not heard about this controversy, being a WYSIWYG kind of guy. Could you send me a link to the page? CSS Selectors: CSS3 selectors are much advanced in comparison to simple selectors offered by CSS, and are termed as a sequence of easy to use and simple selectors. In order for a browser to render a page built with tables it needs to read the code on the page twice. I’m not suggesting you should never use an html table anywhere. I can bring myself to use tables, but css severly restricts my deisgns because of cross-browser compatibility. Maybe it’s because I learned with tables when I was getting started but Divs are complicated and they absolutely do require more code most of the time when you consider practically each object needs to be assigned an ID and go along with a class . When using CSS positioning, the first thing you need to do is establish the CSS property for the position to tell the browser whether you're going to use absolute or relative positioning for a given element. I wrote a 2 part tutorial on turning design image into a css layout for another site. I don’t want to use tables but I’m finding it harder and harder to justify not using them. I think making your structural elements independent is the better option. CSS (divs) are better for SEO – Search engines don’t care one bit if the code behind your page uses tables or divs. If I had stopped my study on the first day the table would have “won” – by an equally small margin. it is a pain, but there’s an easy solution, which is simply to declare the padding or margin, etc. CSS based design is unquestionably superior to table layout, but due to sheer laziness the practice of table design has held on. As networks improve the speed advantage becomes less meaningful and for a small site it’s not going to be a big deal either. I find it hard to believe that anyone who honestly knows how to develop a site well with both tables and divs would ever choose to use tables. By the way if something you followed here didn’t work for you, you could have chosen to ask me if I’d help figure out why and I likely would have. very nice article, good job, i wanted to add my comment based on my own humble experience.. CSS is like a a sword, once you master it, you could be a powerful warrior, and if you truly go advanced with it, you’ll never ever consider tables… once you start writing complicated web apps, that consist of heavy javascript code for the layout, you’ll feel how important CSS is.. I need to write special code for IE? They make a lot of sense for displaying things like data. relative. As far as the speed issues, Google didn’t really talk about load times affecting ranking until after I wrote this post. The algorithms used for ranking most often are content and inbound links. That’s always going to be better done using css. Take the time to learn how to use it. Using element names other than table and td to create layout tables, and then claiming it’s not using tables for layout, borders on self-deception. Well, today a few colleagues of mine got freaked out when they saw me using a table to display “data”. It seems people are confused about the difference between CSS tables and HTML tables. Table-based layout with CSS. This is fairly rare, as positioning doesn’t cascade. I find that unfortunate, as someone who caught the tail end of the “table era” I find it much more difficult to maintain a website which uses tables (because of my own lack of experience with tables I suppose) than to administer a website which uses a CSS layout. The CSS float property allows a developer to incorporate table-like columns in an HTML layout without the use of tables. Another example of hype at its finest. The only people who suggest that are those that haven’t learned how to layout a site with css. Fixed. If I tired to reply to your comment in Spanish it would take me hours, even days, to put together a few coherent sentences. But screen reader software may not read cells in such tables in the proper order, and page layout can now be better controlled with CSS on webpages and with other tools in document creation software. We have many options to build layout and position our elements. I have used css and divs to create multiple lists for a table structure with four side by side columns. A square peg and a round hole can both be perfect examples of each and yet not work well together. The advantages with using divs are essentially counter to the problems with tables described above. Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and/or GitHub. So what difference does it make? However, the industry moved on from them a long time ago. Using css to layout a site is the most difficult part, but it does come together with a little practice. Items are placed inside the cells defined by the grid. By a few I mean less than 5. It sounds like I’m being lumped in with other people who are making grand claims. I agree that there will always be some people that cling on to tables, but I don’t think we will have to suffer too much for much longer. There are some new things on the way with css3 too that will make working with divs/css even easier and more flexible. I’m still using the spacer.gif to tweak spacing. If your dealing with a site that was built with tables then you’re probably going to continue using tables on that site. I watched many people struggle when it comes to nesting tables. When I first started using css for layout I couldn’t always get things to look the same, but most of it was me. First I’m glad to see you making the switch. How to set table cellpadding and cellspacing in CSS. The load time though, is now reason enough to recommend css over tables for seo. CSS doesn’t restrict anything. I’m not trying to say that tables are better, but this whole css and divs are better is wrong imo, it’s about using the right tool for the right job, divs are good for block layout designs it’s what they do best, whereas tables are better for column type layouts. My primary UI guy is a CSS ideologue and spends half his time fighting with stylesheets to make it work in every browser. I will use them to learn more about CSS. css vs tables WRONG! Therefore, CSS Grid can easily render rows and columns simultaneously. You also keep pointing out how everyone who disagrees needs to keep learning, but if you’ve ever been in a large production environment, you’d realize that this is a complete load of bullshit. The conclusion isn’t that it takes a long time to communicate in Spanish. and how painful it is just to align a freakin div on the middle of a page, align text with a image? You can’t pluck a single cell out of a table and move it somewhere else in the layout. It’s done by using both Relative and Absolute positioning together along with a few other attributes like z-index and transform etc. Hopefully I can clear up a few things in this post and let you make your own decision. You are here: Don’t blame the language. @Dave – I think we’re getting squished with the replies to each other so I’m starting a new comment. 5) Greater Consistency – If you use template files and CSS, where is there inconsistency? I will need to learn more about how to use cssdiv to do a page layout. I think you’re asking legitimate questions and I’ll do my best to answer. Plus, since it is a responsive table CSS design, accessing the table on the small screen devices will be an easy job. I really like your saying “Not doing something because it takes time to learn is laziness”. I know there are workarounds. That’s why I wrote this post. If you need to create a modern site that supports an older browser, CSS imposes huge costs. No one is saying that a div can do more than a table. I come from a developer background and am now working as an SEO consultant (I know, Boooo and all that) so I am definately an advocate of divs and I have to disagree with: ‘Search engines don’t care one bit if the code behind your page uses tables or divs. Calling this debate css vs tables is actually inaccurate. Modern CSS - so many layout choices. I’m not going to tell you that you’re doing anything wrong or evil or that the world is going to come to an end. Below is a basic example to show the difference between an LTR and an RTL layout. I could create tables just as fast as anyone with css, if you’re not using some noob program like dream weaver. (Yes, I like clean code too.) The thing is, it’s not easier because you’re using tables. But again, if I don’t see the overwhelming benefits, I won’t don my armor or sharpen my weapons. This is no small drawback!! Again all I said was faster in this post and 10ms is still faster. 2) Faster Load Times Because of Lighter Code – I remember load times being a major issue when I first got started but it doesn’t seem to be the case anymore with so few people on dialup. CSS is better in both theory and practice. The resulting code runs issue free cross browser. Sure if in some Mexican sweat shop, 5 year olds were parsing pages for Google that may be true, but parsing text is as basic as programming gets other than typing “hello world” on the screen…I really doubt that’s an issue for Google, or Yahoo spider programmers. However if you don’t need this right away I am planning a post on setting up a 2 column layout with css in the next couple of weeks. With a table-based layout the only way this would be possible would be to go into every page of your site and change the underlying structure. 1)Flexible?No.Tables are much more flexible due to fixed positions.Yes,fixed positions.You just have to set the positions and hey presto!Your site as you want it! However please don’t imply that css can’t work for old sites or makes it more difficult to work on an existing table driven site. 1. Even a new convention of double colons :: is also added. Your logo image can either be a background image on the header div that’s not repeated or a regular image inside the div. With that in mind I prefer divs. That brings us to the second problem with tables. The first efforts have focused on creating two or more columns using CSS positioning instead of tables, thus allowing for a (complete) separation of structure from presentation. Again it’s probably not a huge difference either way at this point. Very informative article and I hope that it gains some traction so people will stop using so many tables for layout. In addition there are the little seemingly obscure css properties that need to be inserted to make certain things function properly in general, or with older browsers. I hope that helps answer some of the questions. You can make css work with IE and it really isn’t hard. This series of articles will thrive to explain the possibilities you have in positioning. It will work equally as well, and only take seconds to accomplish. “he argument is made by people comparing learning something new to learning something they already know well.”. I code both a little differently now, but the posts might still help. Unless you offer specifics I’m going to assume you’re just name calling, because you were unhappy with my previous comment. Space on the server for all of my client’s sites is generally 1/16 of capacity. Maybe I’ll have to write a post on styling tables. 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