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Divya Manian is a web opener for Opera Software in Seattle. She made
the jump from developing device drivers for Motorola phones to
designing websites and has not looked back since. She takes her duties
as an Open Web vigilante seriously which has resulted in collaborative
projects such as HTML5 Boilerplate.
A few concerns keep bobbing up now and then for Web developers, one of which relates to how to lay out a given design. Developers have made numerous attempts to do so with existing solutions. Several articles have been written on finding the holy grail of CSS layouts, but to date, not a single solution works without major caveats.
At the W3Conf, I gave a talk on how the CSS Working Group is attempting to solve the concerns of Web developers with multiple proposals. There are six layout proposals that are relevant to us, all of which I described in the talk. Here is a little more about these proposals and how they will help you in developing websites in the future.
Update (November 12th 2011): Read a reply by Jeremy Keith to this article in which he strongly argues about the importance of pursuing semantic value and addresses issues discussed in the article as well as in the comments here on Smashing Magazine.
Disclaimer: This article is published in the Opinion column section in which we provide active members of the community with the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas publicly. Do you agree with the author? Please leave a comment. And if you disagree, would you like to write a rebuttal or counter piece? Leave a comment, too, and we will get back to you! Thank you.
Allow me to paint a picture. You are busy creating a website. You have a thought, “Oh, now I have to add an element.” Then another thought, “I feel so guilty adding a div. Div-itis is terrible, I hear.” Then, “I should use something else. The aside element might be appropriate.” Three searches and five articles later, you’re fairly confident that aside is not semantically correct. You decide on article, because at least it’s not a div. You’ve wasted 40 minutes, with no tangible benefit to show for it.
This is not the first time this topic has been broached. In 2004, Andy Budd wrote on semantic purity versus semantic realism. If your biggest problem with HTML5 is the distinction between an aside and a blockquote or the right way to mark up addresses, then you are not using HTML5 the way it was intended. Mark-up structures content, but your choice of tags matters a lot less than we’ve been taught for a while. Let’s go through some of the reasons why.