Thanks to a non-working microphone and the vagaries of Google+ Hangouts we have no broadcast archive this week. Sorry about that. But thanks to Chris, Eric, Greg, and Jeff for joining in and putting up with the technical difficulties anyway.
Here's a trivia question for you, courtesy of Greg:
What is a valid, modern, this-is-the-year-2012 use of HTML tables for layout?
I'll let you think about the answer for a bit. It took me a while to figure it out.
Anyway, this week's hangout was brought to you by, well, the <table> tag. That poor, maligned, misused tag whose glory days are past. If the table tag had a hairstyle, it would be a mullet. Okay, I just tweeted that.
Fortunately for it, the table tag still has its uses on the web. Mostly for tables. You know, those things with rows and columns. If you are tempted to remove all evidence of rows and columns and still use the table tag, you're probably doing it wrong. Tables are for content that is tabularized, and that means still showing borders or at least alternately shading rows like everyone seems fond of these days.
Eric showed us a webpage he was coding up using tables, and we concluded that his use of tables for a conference agenda with times in one column and meeting info in the next column was perfectly valid. One great thing about tables is the fact that everything still stays lined up if one cell has content that pushes a column (or row) larger. Doing that with floated DIVs is next to impossible, resulting in huge discussions about how to do full-height columnar layouts without tables.
Fortunately we've mostly got that figured out, so we can do beautifully coded layouts without resorting to tables. If you're still struggling with it, try using a grid system like the 960 grid (http://960.gs/)or Twitter Bootstrap (http://twitter.github.com/bootstrap/).
Figured out the trivia question yet?
A modern use of HTML tables for layouts is -- you guessed it! -- for HTML emails. Email clients like Outlook still haven't figured out how to render modern HTML, so you're stuck with coding up your email templates like thoughts of Y2K catastrophes are still keeping you up at night. Not only do we have to use tables for layout, but the only way to make stuff look good is with the dreaded inline style.
Maybe next time we'll talk about whether inline styles are still valid (excluding in HTML emails, that is).
Until then, keep the comments coming on Twitter (#WebWednesdays), on this forum, or bring them to the Hangout same time, same place next week.