Re: TBTF for 1999-03-01: Light of other days

Lloyd Wood (
Tue, 2 Mar 1999 21:34:16 +0000 (GMT)

HTML 'smudging' defined - a useful term:

> The discussion concerns rendering time, not transfer time.

The two are intimately intertwined, even in threaded browsers.

Consider a page whose entire content is nested in a complex table. The
page cannot be rendered until the entire table loads in so that sizes
can be estimated or layout can be carried out; dynamic on-the-fly
rendering in parallel with transfer time is not possible, and the
rendering time becomes dependent on the time taken to finish transfer.

The exact opposite is a stream of unannotated ascii text, which
appears just as it loads in over the network.

Table-based layout is bad. To wit:

- (which has no navigation metaphor to speak of to boot,
and dynamic cgi serving that accentuates table slowness. Boy, this
site needs a critique by someone who will then justly get lots
of publicity from the Slashdot Effect).

- (not anywhere as bad, but a design that is being
increasingly emulated elsewhere, increasingly badly.)

- A whole host of other poor sites whose creators would think that
having users waiting staring at a blank screen until
the bottom of the document (that won't even be visible on-screen)
has loaded in makes for cool design if they ever actually used
a modem - which they obviously don't.

The pointless (fixed-width, yet!) tables added to give a white border
around the Florida Today Space Online site are a good example of the

Table layout has replaced leaving out IMG height and width tags as the
#1 HTML cause of perceived web slowdown due to rendering/transfer
dependencies. They're worse than multi-load non-nested framesets and
far more prevalent. Their use is encouraged because enough nested
tables might just crash the other guys' browsers - that seems to be a
goal of gecko development, judging from screenshots.

Tables suck.

[quoted nonsense about "streams", "re-evaluation", SQL and ASP


is seeing Don Norman speak at Surrey Wednesday night, incidentally.
But that will be rather more abstract than this.