[development] Tables in Themes in Drupal 7

Warren Vail warren at vailtech.net
Mon May 2 23:47:28 UTC 2011



I Did a little more research that generated a new question, would love to
get your input.


I did find several sites designed for mobile devices that are being used
successfully with tables so that bit may have been speculation, but I did
discover, I think, two modules within Drupal that might not work well with
Tabled layout, jQuery and RDF.  jQuery alone is probably worth my learning
CSS layout, just to be able to crank out all the possible features there now
and in the future.  RDF, unless I miss-read something, seems to be designed
to make the search engine job easier by providing a mechanism for you to
tell the search engine the entire story of a page, something normal text
scanning could (and does) occasionally miss.  My only reservation about RDF
is the potential for abuse, but then I probably will find they've fixed that
when I read a bit more on the subject.


Is it true that jQuery has problems with tabled layout?


Warren Vail



From: development-bounces at drupal.org [mailto:development-bounces at drupal.org]
On Behalf Of Larry Garfield
Sent: Sunday, May 01, 2011 10:45 PM
To: development at drupal.org
Subject: Re: [development] Tables in Themes in Drupal 7


Table-based markup:

1) Is worse for search engines.  Search engines handle semantic markup
better, because they can extract useful information about the page from the
markup.  Tables confuse them and they cannot rank the data on the page as

2) Is more verbose. While your eyes may have grown accustomed to it, that
makes the page load more slowly.  With the proliferation of the wireless web
(back to dialup speeds we go!), that is a significant problem.  The usual
example I use here is Slashdot, which switched from table-based to pure-CSS
layout back in the early '00s and saved multiple *gigabytes* of data
transfer per month.  That translates into $$$, as well as a faster user

3) Is harder to maintain.  Really.  Even in a CMS.

4) Is not accessible.  By "accessible" I mean "makes sense to something
other than a pair of human eyeballs".  Screen readers, search engines,
assitive technology (for people that are partially disabled), etc. all work
better with intelligent, semantic markup than with purely visual markup.

5) Is harder to build.  Really.  Especially in a dynamic system like Drupal,
table-based layout makes it harder to build a flexible page.

6) Doesn't scale down to mobile browsers.  Mobile browsers will be the
majority of web traffic within 2 years or so by some estimates.  In some
parts of the world it already is.  Good semantic designs scale down to 4"
screens far more easily than tables.  I'd go as far as saying that "adaptive
design" (where the layout changes depending on the size of the screen
automatically) is simply impossible with tables.

7) Doesn't offer anywhere near the expressive power of CSS.  If you're
trying to get a visual effect fancier than three columns with fixed
rectangular color regions, you need to use CSS for styling.  Tables just
can't do that.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but if all you're thinking about is "a
good looking theme", use Photoshop, not the web.  Building a web page is
about far far far more than simply painting a picture, and if you want to do
more than paint a picture that has columns in it you need to use CSS-based

"Personal preference" is not even on the table (no pun intended) for why
CSS-based design is better than table-based.  It's not a "prejudice of the
lazy".  It's a prejudice for using the right tools for the job they were
intended for, and using them properly.  That's not a subjective statement,
nor one simply based on which one learned first.

Yes, it's time for you to learn CSS.  Fortunately, it's much easier than it
used to be since modern browsers finally support CSS properly (now that IE 6
is a virtually non-existent player in most markets).  

--Larry Garfield

On 05/02/2011 12:07 AM, Warren Vail wrote: 

I was just getting ready to tackle my first theme in Drupal 7, and is my
practice, looking through the themes to find for one to hack into being
mine, when I found that none of them used tables for layout.  Now I have
heard many people voice the opinion that tabled layouts (which I've been
quite successful with) are bad, and CSS (which I am less prepared to deal
with) are good.  And in my ages of experience I have, up until now, assumed
that the expressed choice between good and bad was based on (as it often is)
what people had learned vs what they had not, and did not want to have to
bother to learn, so I said nothing until now


Now I see that Drupal 7 (a product I have some respect for) seems to have
none, in those that I have looked into, at least.  Did what I had perceived
to be merely a prejudice of the lazy make it's way all the way into the D7
Platform, or is there some legitimate reason for abandoning tabled layouts
that I have missed (must I finally buckle down to my own laziness and tackle
CSS to that depth)?


Why are Tables BAD and CSS GOOD (keep in mind, I'm after a good looking
theme, and not good looking code, necessarily, since none of my end users
will ever look at the code).  I am looking for some reason other than good
looking code (or someone's vision of correctness) to get behind CSS for my
themes, and believe me "being easier" won't convince me much either.  I'm
guessing there must be some other good reason I've missed.  


What would that be?


Warren Vail



-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lists.drupal.org/pipermail/development/attachments/20110502/838681c2/attachment-0001.html 

More information about the development mailing list