Html – Why is using tables for website layout such an evil

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I am a Winforms and business engine developer who is using asp.net for the first time in over 2 years, and in that time I have noticed a few convention changes.

What is the logic behind the anti-'tables for layout' movement?

Is it to allow css classes to be used to handle layout, and if so, should this really be an issue on pages you are fairly sure will remain static, or is it just considered 'ugly'?

Best Solution

A few additional points:

  • Don't be a fanatic about it. CSS isn't perfect, and there are some things that can be done much easier with tables. So if you need to, put a little table in there. It won't kill you.

  • The major "evil" of table-based layouts was the kind of deeply-nested mess that used to be the only way to get precise control over the page. You would have tables within tables within tables, and transparent images strategically placed to control spacing. I think this is pretty rare nowadays, and CSS will let you clean up 90% of this mess.

  • The "semantic web", where tags are there to give meaning to the page, not to describe the layout, is a good goal. However, the current version of HTML doesn't go very far toward reaching it. As a result, you will ALWAYS have plenty of tags in your pages that are just there for layout, with no other meaning. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to separate content and layout as much as possible; it just means you won't get there 100%.