Zeldman Recommends Tables

· Information design

Let the religious war end. With the wit and panache we’ve become accustomed to, Zeldman discusses real-world pragmatic choice for commercial web design or the development of any site that wishes to be presentable and accessible to as wide an audience as possible.
As ugly as hacking and debugging nested tables can get, let’s admit that most sophisticated CSS layouts urrently requires some hacking in every environment.
Here’s Zeldman’s prescription and some ways you can learn from him to bam! kick it up a notch:

More and more, we find ourselves creating transitional layouts that incorporate simplified table structures; use sophisticated CSS to add the kind of details that formerly required nested tables, spacer gifs, and other presentational hacks; and serve a basic style sheet to 4.0 browsers that approximates the display in modern ones.

We find that with these techniques we can create attractive sites that conserve bandwidth and look almost as good in Netscape 4.x as they do in modern browsers. We can’t achieve the same results using pure CSS methods.

Table layouts are harder to maintain and somewhat less forward compatible than CSS layouts. But the combination of simple tables, sophisticated CSS for modern browsers, and basic CSS for old ones has enabled us to produce marketable work that validates … work that is accessible in every sense of the word.

We’ll be sharing our techniques at the Builder conference and writing about them in our upcoming book for New Riders.

All my years in computer-book publishing and I’ve never worked with New Riders. Meanwhile, they’ve built a very strong list of web design and development thought leadership titles, such as Powazek’s Design for Community and many others. I wonder what happened to Bob Slote‘s book? He had one coming out a while back, I thought.
Apparently, they’ve even signed PeterMe to write a book about coining the word blog. It’s got meme in the title, as I recall. Also on the blog book watch, I saw a link to an Amazon UK listing for an Osborne/McGraw book called Blog On due out in October, from one of the authors of the “How to Do Everything with…” series. I’ll have to add it to my Amazon Listmania list.
Which bugs me, that list, because their doesn’t seem to be any easy way to get my store affiilation into the URLs it generates. I’m going to grab the page and hack it and make it a Story here, I think. Then I can add these new books as they come up. I wish there was an Amazon API plug-in for Radio!
Good discussion of shilling books in the comments to an earlier entry today. I may promote them to “first-class” content.