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Just echoing some earlier posted sentiments but worth repeating: just b/c IE8 is going to be released sometime in 2009 DOES NOT mean it is going to be so quickly adopted by all the IE6/7 users out there (who account for somewhere around 70% of typical market share still, on the conservative scale).
I’m not denying the fact that one could fork their code to supply CSS tables for all “modern” browsers and deliver “fallback” float/positioning layout styles via conditional comments to support IE6/7. But what’s the point of all that extra work? From a business/production standpoint, that’s just not practical.
Whereas, I’ve always been able to get even the most challenging layouts to work cross-browser with floats etc. Yes IE needs to be served a few fixes usually… but certainly it’s less work to make minor tweaks for one technique as opposed to fully coding two entirely different CSS layout models.
You could argue for graceful degradation and let IE6/7 basically choke on the CSS tables and merely get a simplified version of the design. But try telling a paying client their site won’t display as designed for such a large share of the market. Also not a practical option in most real world situations.
So yes, the idea of CSS tables is indeed interesting. It is definitely worth being familiar with for future use, and of course good to have in your toolbox for use whenever/wherever appropriate right now. 100% agreed.
But to call CSS tables the “first tool you reach for” as a production layout technique? That’s an overstatement. Just my opinion, though.
Speaking of overstatements, and comments above regarding the book Mr. Yank is hawking… yes, I agree the title Everything You Know About CSS Is Wrong! is misleading. The entire book is devoted to CSS tables as a layout technique, and we all know CSS covers a whole lot more than just layout.
I am curious to thumb through a copy, however, as I’d really like to see Kevin’s suggestions for addressing the source order limitations with CSS tables.
From an SEO and accessibility standpoint, layout via CSS floats provides flexibility in ensuring the most important content can come first in the source order regardless of the design requirements.
Whereas, CSS tables for layout requires the content to be in the same order in the markup as it needs to be displayed on screen, which is of course mixing content with presentation. I should probably do some tests first to confirm, but that’s my understanding. Please correct me if I’m wrong.