Should we always run away from tables?

I’m having second thoughts about writing this article, suddenly I feel under thousands of web developers about to shred me apart! :)
Aheem, like most web developers, I’m crazy, if not obsessed, about semantic mark-up and that’s why I still see the table’s great, if not, unique role.

Web designers do not run away from tables, but rather stopped using them design-wise.
CSS has been here for a very long time, but it only became popular when CSS 2.0 was out, until that point, tables were used to arrange most of the HTML elements (i.e. lists, images, text etc), which was obviously semantically wrong.

Once CSS 2.0 was out and we have gotten a much better control, we’ve been able to separate a web page’s design from its tabular data.

I’ve seen great pure CSS solutions to display tabular data, but personally, I wouldn’t make extra effort to build something that’s not fixing anything, tables are still meant to be used for stable data display.

Below, you have an example of database item listing, using tables, something I wouldn’t bother reinventing as a pure CSS solution:

The CSS is included in the download files.

The above is a hybrid table, with one fluid column, a type of table I used in one of my projects that’s still under development and I can’t show you a live example unfortunately. But I’ve made a ‘Preview’ option available.

Conclusion, tables still have a great role in our web pages today.


My name is Cătălin Berța and I'm a front-end web developer. I was born in Focsani, Romania and currently living in Bucharest. Started playing with some good old html tables ever since 2004 as a hobby, turned out to be a full-time career! :) I've had the chances to experience and witness web development's rapid growth over the years where I've mainly focused on front-end web technologies.

2 thoughts on “Should we always run away from tables?

  1. Your point about tables still should be used for stable data display is true. A lot of desigers never touch tables because they are seen so 90’s. But they obviously are still very useful to use.

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