Web Layout Report
(work in progress)
In the days of yore, about 1997s, all the websites are laid out using HTML TABLE tag. All hell are cried by the pundits because they believed in a wonderland where HTML should never be used to do layout at all. The punditry has a few levels, and got eased and weakened overtime. The severest forms decry that HTML should be strictly be used to markup the logical relations of the content. For example, titles, chapter headings, sections, subsections, quotations, emphasized text, etc. Some, claim that the web should be just these, period.
While the pundits made their outcries, companies such as Netscape raced to introduce fancy elements that blinks and flashes and rolls. And with gif animations running rampant on the web, clearly indicating that the human animals in general is at odds with punditing faakheads.
As time goes by, near 1997s the boom and commercialization of the web made it vastly useful, these school of pundit stances, once popular, waned. In accordance, Standard bodies such as W3C has sprung up. On one hand assuming the role of benign dictator and telling companies what is right. On the other hand, cooking up a Cascading Style Sheet by the undeniable desires of the human animals.
The second generation of web pundits is onto the concept of Appearance and Content separation, with CSS. They cry and want, that structural markup of the content should be distinct and separated from appearance markup. For example, a page's title text has a logical purpose to the content. Namely, that text is the Title of the page. But also, it also have a standard appearance connotation. Namely, titles are usually centered, large, and often in streamlined font face. The pundits now say, the title should be marked up like «TITLE»My Title«\TITLE» and there should be another way to specify how «TITLE» must be rendered.
This school of web pundits is still with us today 2005 December. Note that their punditry isn't always clear and clean. They, like the industry, are shaped and goaded by how things move. For example, they no longer think that the web should not be commercialized. The human-animal-history-changing nature of the enterprising web has killed this wave of pundits. Nor, today we find pundits that are against any appearance markup. W3C's CSS has killed these off. The pundits in question simply shutted up and remain mum about their past, and possibly went on to pundit other things.
HTML Tables is introduced around late half of 1990s. At the time, the pundit consensus was that Tables should be used to markup data that suites a tabular format. For example, a list of names and addresses, stock quotes, etc. In reality, tables is used for layout of a site. That is, by using table's with and height attribute, people are use it to specify this image should appear there and this text should be aligned here. Every major website uses table this way, and largely still so today (2005-12). Apparently, site layout is extremely important to human animals, regardless of pundit-say.
The W3C pundit collective saw this, and started to device CSS2, which has the ability to specify object's positions and size.
As a new piece of technology, the generations of CSSes went thru a bumpy road towards the mainstream and slowly, very slowly, gained acceptance and wide deployment on the web. Over the past 7 or so years since the inception of CSS, today perhaps half of the web uses CSS, but all major websites uses CSS. How CSS is used, whether it is used properly, is still hotly debated among pundits.
With the introduction of CSS2's Layout and Overlay abilities, it is possible to specify positions and sizes in a precise manner. This has gradually displaced the ubiquitous use of nested tables for its layout abilities.
Today, in these pages, i'm going to do a survey and report of how major websites do layout.
Alexa.com has a website ranking page: http://www.alexa.com/site/ds/top_500. Alexa is a amazon.com company. They did the ranking by distributing a browser toolbar, so that what user browses are registered in their database. Since they are pretty big, it gives some good indication of the top websites within USA. Here's their list of top sites as of 2005-12:
Work in progress…