Once upon a time nearly every website was an invisible spreadsheet table, now not even a table is a table anymore.
In the 90s websites were simple, often they were either ugly but full of very informative text, or they were pretty and full of big picture files which your dial-up modem would struggle to load for you.
Regardless of the text-to-pictures ratio, nearly every webpage arranged elements on the screen by using a “table” as a method of creating columns with sensible width. This was how you could have links listed on the left, all of your body text in the centre, and a smorgasbord of animated GIFs and rolling marquees cluttering up the right of the screen.
Tables were extremely useful, not only because tables used to be space-bar punching bags, but also for the afore mentioned page layout method.
[ RESUME ] .------+----------------------------. | DATE | JOB TITLE | |======|============================| | 2021 | Webmaster of this site | | 2020 | What did you do that year? | '------+----------------------------'
The old way of making “tables.”
|2021||Webmaster of this site|
|2020||What did you do that year?|
New way of making a table, doing real tabley things.
However, the people at “big internet” were mad at us for using tables for anything other than listing the capital cities of the world, so they told us to “stop using tables like that!” And instead gave us another way of placing our dancing baby animation in just the right spot on the page. They gave us CSS.
I’m getting to it, calm down.
Basically, everyone was being told tables are bad and CSS is good and if you used tables you were a bad webmaster. <aside>We really did use the word webmaster.</aside>
Eventually it seems that everyone forgot about tables completely, which is where we are ruined.
Last week I went to a website looking for a list of roles an actor had credits for. I found what I needed, presented in columns of year, role, medium, director, and so on.
“Wonderful” I thought. I selected them all. Cmd + C. Open a spreadsheet. Cmd + V and… oh dear.
What I had found was not a table, but a series of
divs which were being styled to arrange like a table. It would have been hours of work to build the damn thing. What a waste of time.
You’re not very sympathetic are you.
It is a problem because:
Ranted by Ed Britton