Diogenes Diogenes - 2 months ago 9
CSS Question

How would YOU do this: Tables or CSS?

Puzzle Grinch

Part I



This layout can be done quite simply with 2 HTML tables, one nested inside the other, or even with a single table.

It can also be done with CSS, though it might involve a little more thinking.

This may not be a real world layout, but I have seen pages that are similar. Consider this a riddle; an exercise to buff up your CSS skills.

To make things a little more interesting, I have framed the question in a little 2 part web page called The Challenge. We will examine the code and the question: Layout with tables or CSS?, side-by-side, blow-by-blow, as our two opponents battle it out for code supremacy.

Part I lays out how The Challenge came to be. I hope you enjoy.

Part II is The Decision. You might be surprised.




Part II



I was amazed at how quickly really good answers appeared mere minutes after I posted. It was a humbling experience. I have no desire to compete in time trials with you.

BUT, all that being said, upon close examination of the solutions offered, I came to
realize that none of the CSS solutions (including my own at the time) worked as well as either of the table solutions offered. The Challenge was all about CSS being better than tables for any layout solution.

So I added 3 new rules (remember, one of the rules is that the rules can be changed). This annoyed some people. So then I added some colorful explanations about why the rules were changed. I think this annoyed them even more.



  1. Our garden is to have a fence around it; something to set it apart from whatever dreary surroundings it may find itself in; and not too expensive, but easy to keep clean.
    So I want a 1 pixel black border around the garden


  2. Inhabitants of each garden plot (the characters) must be either black or white, depending on which shows them the best in their garden. Also they are all of cursive descent. There are no italics amoung them. ;-)


  3. The garden is relocatable, that is, I can have this garden, anywhere on the page (no absolute positioning).



This is what the final output is to look like (background color optional):

alt text

My apologies for the capricious and last minute rule changes. I had it wrong. The inhabitants of each garden plot are artisans, hand crafted specialists. They are descendants of the cursive family, and owe their sense of style to the italics.

The garden has to be relocatable because both kinds of gardens (table and CSS) need to coexist on the same page. I may be wrong to say that
position:absolute
rules are not allowed. If you can get them to work in this context, then more power to you. They will certainly be accepted.

I asked for a fence around the plot because each garden type is going to be planted in a countryside with an orange background very similar to the color of the some of the flowers we grow.

I live in Holland now, and the Tulip season is fast approaching. If you fly over Holland in the next few weeks, and it's a clear day (kind of rare here) the landscape below you will look rather similar to this silly exercise.

I'm not crazy about orange but I do like and admire the Dutch, so that is why we have an orange background, a tribute to my host country. :-)




Part III



I have posted Ted's table answer from The Challenge below along with this image

alt text

because the occupants can be easily added to the garden plots without touching the CSS rules - everything is automatically centered.

Can you do this with CSS? Can you chop down the mightiest tree in the forest with... a herring?




Update: Charlie's answer is here.

Answer

alt text I first did this exercise a little over 2 years ago when I was first learning HTML and CSS. My first solution was like the one you see here, except without the anonymous container DIVs. Then I got this idea for a web page that did a side by side comparison of CSS to a Table to prove CSS was better. So I worked on The Challenge page, published it, and then posted this question.

Sam Hasler posted an answer within minutes, it seems, that was really close. I could see he was on track for a better solution than what I had. All his divs were in order, and mine were not. Jacco posted a comment asking why I used two nested tables when one would do. He was right too, of course.

So I had two Homer Simpson "Doh!" moments right away. I read other questions and answers on tables vs. CSS. Someone mentioned that tables centered vertically. My answer did not center vertically either, but I thought it might be possible. The whole point, after all, is to do everything a table can do and better. I had painted myself into a corner by now, looking like a fool, so I had to find an answer.

Eventually (am embarrassed to say how long it was) I came up with the solution below. I was then able to fulfill my original concept of a side-by-side comparison web page.

Here is an explanation of how it all works and why you should use CSS

Charlie's answer...


<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN"
 "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<head>
<title>Charlie's CSS layout</title>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html;charset=utf-8" />
<style type="text/css">

#outer { 
  width:175px; height:175px; 
  text-align:center; 
  font: italic 100%/200% 'Comic Sans MS', cursive;  
  border: 1px solid black;
}
#inner { width: 105px }
#outer>DIV, #inner>DIV { float:left }
#outer>DIV>DIV, #inner>DIV>DIV 
{ display: table-cell;  vertical-align: middle }
#c2 { clear: right }
#c3, #c6 { clear: left }

#c1>DIV, #c4>DIV, #c7>DIV, #c8>DIV, #c9>DIV { height: 35px }
#c2>DIV, #c3>DIV, #c5>DIV, #c6>DIV, #c7>DIV { width:  35px }
#c2>DIV, #c3>DIV { height: 140px } 
#c1>DIV, #c9>DIV { width:  140px } 
#c5>DIV, #c6>DIV { height:  70px } 
#c4>DIV, #c8>DIV { width:   70px } 
#c2, #c6, #c7, #c8, #c9 { position:relative; top:-35px }
#c9 { left: 35px }

#c1 { background-color: silver }
#c2 { background-color: maroon; color: white }
#c3 { background-color: navy; color: white }
#c4 { background-color: red }
#c5 { background-color: blue; color: white }
#c6 { background-color: yellow }
#c7 { background-color: white }
#c8 { background-color: green; color: white }
#c9 { background-color: orange }

/* these rules are a HACK to center vertically in IE7 */
#outer>DIV>DIV, #inner>DIV>DIV { position:relative; }
#c1>DIV, #c4>DIV, #c7>DIV, #c8>DIV, #c9>DIV { top: 10% }
#c5>DIV { top: 0% } 
#c6>DIV { top: 30% }
#c2>DIV { top: 0% }
#c3>DIV { top: 15% }

</style>
</head>
<body>

<div id="outer">
  <div id="c1"><div> 1 </div></div>
  <div id="c3"><div>3<br/>3<br/>3</div></div>
  <div id="inner">
    <div id="c4"><div> 4 </div></div>
    <div id="c5"><div> 5<br/>5 </div></div>
    <div id="c6"><div> 6 </div></div>
    <div id="c7"><div> 7 </div></div>
    <div id="c8"><div> 8 </div></div>
  </div>
  <div id="c2"><div> 2<br/>2<br/>2<br/>2 </div></div>
  <div id="c9"><div> 9 9 9</div></div>
</div>

</body>
</html>
Comments