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Thursday, September 02, 2004

The State of Presentation Design

Web applications are broken up into layers-- one of which is the presentation layer. Developers at heart, are lazy folks and would like to have a presentation layer that works for all types of clients.

I've been reading about advances in CSS. Dan Cederholm has an awesome book out called "Web Standards Solutions" in which he describes how to simplify your HTML markup and through CSS. You can have one page serve browsers, printers, and handhelds. Imagine structuring a web page of pure XHTML markup, then telling your boss that, "Oh, by the way, the application also works on handhelds and all the reports are printable in a pretty format."

Start taking a closer look at CSS to accomodate presentation versatility. No more digging though JSP pages with layout tables within layout tables within tags just to display some data. CSS is an EXTERNAL way of displaying your data without the layout fat embeded in your presentation logic. Here's a list I've composed on the benefits of CSS on your next web project:
  1. Layout code is externalized which makes each page much smaller to download
  2. Smaller pages are easier to maintain when mixed with JSP tags
  3. Pages can be reused for screen, print, and handhelds
  4. CSS behavior is now very similar across different browsers
  5. Creates seperation between HTML structure and presentation (layers are good)

As always, HTML layouts are trial and error with getting things to act perfectly across all browsers. It's almost a blessing that Internet Explorer has more security leaks than-- (Windows?) because with each release, the W3C CSS compliance level increases to a level equal to Mozilla, the other white meat.

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