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Mythbusters 003

Posted on 13th July 2009 in Insight
Written by: Andy Wickes

All tables are bad.

Not even close to being true.

Let’s get the distinction right here. Sites built using tables as their structure are bad. Very bad.

Tables are for tables. Or if you wish to be precise, for displaying tabular data, and nothing else. In the dark days before browsers supported CSS, and before many a web agency had even discovered the possibilities of CSS, tables were used not just for tabular data but for the creation of sites themselves.

Nowadays, we code using what is called Web Standards. This is where we produce XHTML pages holding our content, and all of our styling is handled with CSS. So nothing related to presentation is contained within the HTML at all, unless it is a table.

This in turn brings us on to the issue of what is rather grandiloquently called the ‘semantic’ web, which despite the complex sounding term, is really about using markup which describes the content, and therefore better informs machines (read search engines) of the content within your pages. So we are using tables for tables and nothing else.

So tables are not at all bad. Not even near to being bad, so long as they are used as they were intended.