In the end of 2003 it was already unacceptable to use tables, unless you were Zeldman. Today, even Jeffrey Zeldman is no longer using tables for layout. Congrats!
Make it early 2002, and you'll be closer.
Now hype the latest: drop
<a/>, in favour of
XMLHttpRequest! It reduces the bandwith use even more than switching from XHTML to HTML!
robbert...in fairness, i don't see anybody dropping
<a/> on any sites that cater for the public in favour of
XMLHttpRequest, but i'm sure anne will report it in due course, when it's actually happening...
XMLHttpRequest is a good alternative for
A, but it's not a replacement. The way to implement it, is to have a
onclick handler attached to the
A element, which returns
false and does the
XMLHttpRequest in the background.
That way, you can provide a good
href to user agents that doesn't support
XMLHttpRequest, but give those who do, a snappier and better browsing experience. Everybody gets a piece of the cake, and we can all eat it too.
I've been asking everyone everywhere, but haven't gotten an answer yet: Can CSS do five columns? I tried for a while and gave up.
Not two, not three, but five columns, side-by-side. Floats go crazy on browsers too narrow, and other options all seem to have their own drawbacks.
I'm almost to the point of utter cynicism about CSS advocates -- who seem to pick and choose their battles, avoiding the ones they can't win -- but I still believe in the promise of CSS. Too bad I have to completely redesign blogcritics.org in ways that will annoy all of my users in order to go pure-CSS!
To risk going slightly off-topic, but: have you tried absolute positioning? It has saved me a couple of times. And it works like a charm. 5 is a lot, though.
A few CSS Zen Garden designs do it, although it may not be what you're looking for (it invokes a horizontal scrollbar).
I'd like to see any usable 5-column layout (tables or not) that works in a narrow browser window.
If you lay out the columns with floats and specify widths as percentages, it should work as well as can be expected. Wide content in any of the columns will wreak havoc, of course, but I don't see how a table-based layout would fare any better.
Oh, you want it to work in IE too? Well, that makes it a lot harder. :)
The only five-column layout I know of on a validating site is at The Register - and they still use a table for the central section.
What I suggest you do is use a table to layout your site if none of the current CSS techniques work. This shouldn't be much of a problem if it's only a basic table with no spacer gifs and you use stylesheets to format everything else. As long as you use semantic markup your site will still validate and it will be viewable by your entire audience.
CSS isn't the correct solution to every problem, at least not yet it's not.