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Passions in Poetry

Let's put it on the table

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Christopher
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Member Rara Avis
since 08-02-99
Posts 9130
Purgatorial Incarceration


0 posted 02-06-2001 09:40 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher


OK - I've seen this issue before, and thought about presenting it again.

Fixed width, or percentage, which is better? Are there applications which are served better by one as opposed to the other? If so, what?

For the basics on what a table is, visit: http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/96/47/index3a.html?tw=authoring

Chris
Nicole
Senior Member
since 06-23-99
Posts 1896
Florida


1 posted 02-07-2001 12:50 AM       View Profile for Nicole   Email Nicole   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Nicole

Is this a test??  

Most everyone who wants to keep their site looking organized, who wants to have control over alignment - will use tables.

If a site has say - a giant table that contains nested tables, that contain their site content - then what's going to happen if they set their main table to a percentage (which means that the table will always 'take up' a certain percentage of the window width), is that their content will most likely get all squished and yucky looking when the window is changed to a smaller size.

If the table is a fixed width (which, needless to say, means the table will remain a certain width no matter *what* the size of the window), then what the audience will get is either scroll bars if the window is too small - or an offset page if the window is too big. (resolution sizes to be taken into consideration here.)
Christopher
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Member Rara Avis
since 08-02-99
Posts 9130
Purgatorial Incarceration


2 posted 02-07-2001 01:06 AM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

waitjustagaldurnminute!!!

I wasn't posing whether to use tables or not!!! I was directed toward how to use them!!! HUGE proponent of table use here!

My op on the matter is a bit different from yours, unless I misunderstood what you're saying. I think percentage widths are the perfect way to go - the key though, is to manage them so that the material inside looks good in 640x480 (though I admit I worry less about that, and worry more about starting at 600x800) all the way up to 1024x768. (Personally, my resolution is set at 1280x1024, but I think that the exception rather than the rule.) Also - I use percentages in the tables that are nested too - for obvious reasons though, since they wouldn't work too well at fixed widths since the main tables are percentages.

Uhmm - though I just had pause to wonder how that'll look in Netscape...

Anymore input?

C
Nicole
Senior Member
since 06-23-99
Posts 1896
Florida


3 posted 02-07-2001 01:18 AM       View Profile for Nicole   Email Nicole   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Nicole

No no!  I wasn't saying you didn't support tables.  

All those pretty words just basically said is what each does.  LOL  Ever the fence sitter.  Though, I agree with you.  If you know what you want, how you want it to look - and what your audience will most likely be looking at, then yeah.  Percentages all the way.

For a site though, that is *based* on how it looks (okay, so most all are) but - where it's detrimental to the site to have your tables screwed up by window size, then fix the tables.
Ron
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4 posted 02-07-2001 04:36 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Whether you use fixed width or percentages depends on the content, in my opinion.

The Passions main site uses fixed widths, designed for a typical 640x480 screen. Every cell on the main screen is a specific pixel width, forced to that width by a transparent gif, and will look almost exactly the same on every screen (okay, just a bit more squished on webTV, but not much).

The forums, on the other hands, are percentage based. Kind of. In truth, the forum screens are a mixture, with the left- and right-most columns being fixed to a specific width, and the middle column being a percentage, all nested within a single-column, 98 percent width table. Yea, it's a bit complicated. But, essentially, it's percentage based in that it will stretch to fill most of the entire screen, or shrink to fit a smaller, resized window. In spite of its elasticity, because of those fixed-width corners, the forum screens will look "about" the same regardless of screen resolution; i.e., everything on the page will appear in exactly the same spot, without any inadvertent wrapping.

I should also note that the number one reason beginners have problems with tables is because they try to mix fixed- and percentage-width columns. Do it wrong, and your tables are going to look entirely different at different resolutions, and can indeed do some really weird things. In almost every instance, the reason is because the designer is asking the browser to do something mathematically impossible. If the browser cannot do what you've asked it to do, it's going to make its own decisions - which are rarely what you had in mind.

So, why would you ever want to use a completely fixed-width screen? For the same reason newspapers and magazines use columns. Overly long lines of text are very hard on the eyes and people, being the lazy creatures we are, will usually just go find something a little easier to read. If you are displaying links like Yahoo, or short little site descriptions like Excite, or poems like we do in most of the forums, then it's not going to be too bad. But if you're publishing articles (or short stories), those really long lines of text are a hill you're asking your visitors to climb. And many of them won't.

That is one of the weaknesses of our forums, and one I hope to soon overcome.
FlyHigh
Member
since 06-21-2000
Posts 85
Bekkestua, Norway


5 posted 02-07-2001 07:48 AM       View Profile for FlyHigh   Email FlyHigh   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for FlyHigh

As Ron points out it depends on what content you have. However, one of my rules is that a website shall be browser- and resolution- independent. I do not use tables however, as getting a dynamic width with tables usually destroyes the design (% width), as Nicole points out.

It is in my opinion much better to use stylesheet classes with absolute positioning, and div tags.

I urge those of you using fixed width tables to take a look at www.anybrowser.org/campaign

Geir the webdesign-addict

--
"Luck affects everything. Let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it there will be a fish."
Ovid (BC 43-18 AD)

Ron
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since 05-19-99
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6 posted 02-07-2001 01:55 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

IMO, FlyHigh, CSS should never be used as a replacement for tables, especially if you want your site to be cross-browser compliant. There are still a TON of browsers out there in the real world that don't recognize any CSS, and a TON MORE that won't handle positioning identically.
FlyHigh
Member
since 06-21-2000
Posts 85
Bekkestua, Norway


7 posted 02-07-2001 03:21 PM       View Profile for FlyHigh   Email FlyHigh   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for FlyHigh

I disagree Ron. Stylesheets is a part of the HTML standard. Browsers not following the standard would have trouble, that is true. But to be able to make a site true browser-independent all browsers has to follow one standard.

Using tables is easy enough, but it does create one wholesome mess codewise. But also some browsers handle tables in different ways. Especially if you try having dynamic width. So what are we to do?

I will continue to follow the standard, and in that way I take a stand against the browsers not following it. Every time I discover browsers that doesn't follow the standard I email the developers. Hopefully they will take notice.

Geir the webdesign-addict


--
"Luck affects everything. Let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it there will be a fish."
Ovid (BC 43-18 AD)

Ron
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Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US


8 posted 02-07-2001 04:42 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

What you're saying is partially true, FlyHigh - but the standards are a moving target and it's not always the software developers who fall behind the current levels. There are a LOT of people still running on older browsers, some because they fear any upgrade without technical help, some because they have older hardware that won't support more bloat, some just because they don't know any better. Support for tables goes all the way back to Netscape 2.0 (and I can remember designing pages when using tables meant eliminating half your potential audience), but CSS is still relatively new. What you are essentially suggesting is that you support browser-independence as long as YOU get to choose the browsers. Reality is rarely that kind to designers.

And I specify "partially" true because CSS is an optional addition to the requirements. The WC3 standards are a hierarchy, comprised of what you must include to be compliant and what you may include and still be compliant. A very popular browser on this side of the world is webTV (no computer required), and only their deluxe model includes any support at all for CSS.

I'm not suggesting a web designer shouldn't use CSS, because it's a darn useful tool. One of the "new" things in our software is CSS defined fonts instead of the several score font tags embedded in every page we had before. But, depending on your audience, I think one should only use those features that degrade gracefully. If a visitor comes to the main site or the forums using webTV, they are going to see a Times font instead of Arial, and a few links you see as not underlined will be underlined for them. I can live with that. Absolute position, however, does not degrade so nicely. Were I running a different web site, with a different audience, I might change my tune. A site geared towards programmers, for example, would likely see very few webTV visitors and I could safely include more bells and whistles.

I checked my stats at the main site, after my last post, and confirmed some numbers. A full seven percent, or roughly 94,000 people a month, visit Passions without full CSS support. That's a lot of people to turn away, and would seem even more so if you were one of them. As it is, I get letters every week from people who absolutely love our greeting cards but can't easily read them - and I have to explain they were designed for full color monitors, not TV sets where everything bleeds. I hate disappointing people and inferring they are second-class citizens of the Net.

(The numbers are potentially much higher than that if you, as suggested, are using absolute positioning based on the div tag. Netscape supports abs positioning, but using the layer tag rather than the div tag. It takes some fairly intricate programming to simultaneously support both. There goes another twenty percent of your visitors.    No, the layer tag is defintely NOT part of the standard. But that won't make a bit of difference to all those people who never even heard of WC3. All they'll know is that your web pages look ugly and are almost impossible to use.)

In the end, it's a personal choice. Do you want to support the standards? Or the people actually using the Internet?
FlyHigh
Member
since 06-21-2000
Posts 85
Bekkestua, Norway


9 posted 02-07-2001 05:45 PM       View Profile for FlyHigh   Email FlyHigh   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for FlyHigh

You have some very good points there,
however W3C recommended CSS1 already in 1996, so it isn't that new.

I haven't tested many older browser-versions, as I have only been addict for 2 years. However I design mostly sites in Norwegian, and you North-Americans have been on the scene a bit longer, and you have a bigger population. All of us Norwegians could fit right into New York if I'm not totally wrong. And the internet revolution started about 1-2 years ago here, so I wouldn't think there is so many old browsers. But you have some very good points there...

Geir the Webdesign-junkie.

--
"Luck affects everything. Let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it there will be a fish."
Ovid (BC 43-18 AD)

 
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