DMT Week 5: XHTML & CSS styling

One of the key themes of this week was that there are many different ways to achieve the same end result in your browser. There is generally an “accepted” view these days to use web standards as set by the W3C, but from experience I’d say this is far from universal (or even known!)

Some issues I looked at …

1. Tables or CSS?

Jack posted a great article this week comparing the work required for a basic web site, using both the table approach and the CSS approach. CSS ended up the winner, but on points rather than by knockout – illustrating that CSS itself isn’t perfect. My main issue has usually been with layout, in that

s often cause issues with floats to define layout.Overall though, I think “standardistas” need to justify their approach from a business (rather than idealist) point of view. Jeff Veen does a pretty good job, pointing out the following:

  • Faster development
  • Less maintenance (eg. the single CSS file example of Alistair this week)
  • Flexibility (same content, different output eg. mobiles)
  • Faster downloads (since smaller file sizes)

2. Which browser?

Part of the reason for standards gaining wider acceptance is that they are intended to bring together web browsers to display content in a similar way. But none are perfect, so as a developer you need to decide where to draw the line – ie. which browsers to test your work in. There is a Wikipedia page devoted to statistics, which shows in general that Internet Explorer is still dominant with over 70% of the market worldwide – although Firefox and Safari, with 18% and 6% respectively, definitely need to be considered.

3. Web Standards References

Want to read more? I think I’ve loaned these to friends, never to be returned, but they’ll be at a good techie bookstore:


Veen, J. (2003) “The Business Value of Web Standards”, at, accessed 25 August 2008.

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