Slashdot Goes Tableless

I read over on Dougal Campbell’s blog that Slashdot has moved to a tableless design using HTML 4.01 and CSS. The announcement on Slashdot itself also explains why they settled on HTML 4.01 rather than going full-tilt XHTML.

Interestingly enough, they are also planning on holding some kind of competition to redesign the Slashdot theme and have made their CSS available for download to enable people to participate.

Back in June I wrote two articles (Learning CSS and Finishing the CSS Prototype), about my first foray into CSS, spending a week learning as much as I could about CSS using the conversion of my companys home page to CSS in order to present the technology to our leadership team as a way to reduce page download time and reduce labor when changing layout. In one of those articles I stated that I had not been as excited about learning a new technology since starting to learn Python a year or two ago. I still feel the same way. Its very cool to see large sites like Slashdot taking the leap to complete CSS implementations. The additional separation of presentation from the markup code is an exciting concept, allowing you to both reduce code size and reduce the labor it takes to retheme your site when your branding changes without completely gutting the site each time you need to retheme.

We’ve started our conversion, incrementally, when we are touching the pages. The initial results look really good. The mandate has been made that new pages be developed with CSS implementations rather than the plethora of table and spacer tags that choke the pipe for our customers. We’re on our way. So the initial results of the prototype proved the point sufficiently.

Still, I hope bigger sites comparable to Slashdot keep making the switch, and announcing that they are doing so, so that more of us have ammo to make a move like this and spend the time to do it. Many companies just don’t want to make the leap until they see other comparable sites making it first. Its painful to do, but once its done, the labor savings and additional possibilities from a design perspective will definitely be worth it.

The other lesson from this one is one that Joel Spolsky talked about in one of his articles, Getting Things Done When Your Only A Grunt. One person can make a difference. You just have to care enought to do what it takes to make your point.