Original Question

On the whole the SO HTML is very good - I've never had any rendering problems.

However I am working on an Stackoverflow iPhone App and the use of HTML tables (mainly on the question pages i.e. this one) are causing me some problems.

I'd like to see the removal of <table> to be replaced with the more versatile <div>.

Problem Clarification

While I agree with sentiment that there is nothing wrong with <table>s the use on the questions/[0-9]*/ pages hampers efforts third parties to write custom CSS.

Not a Screen Scraper

The App refereed to simply loads the webpage into a UIWebKit and substitutes the CSS file for a custom one that formats pages to look more in-keeping with the iPhone.

It does not alter the HTML or Javascript in anyway, only the CSS is substituted.

  • 4
    Wait, so you're screen scraping SO for your app? Is Jeff alright with this? – belgariontheking Oct 21 '09 at 13:48
  • 3
    If divs are so versatile, how come they're not using them on SO? – Welbog Oct 21 '09 at 13:48
  • No screen scraping here thank you very much. – Richard Stelling Oct 21 '09 at 13:49
  • 1
    @rjstelling: Ok, well without an API, would you like to explain how you are proposing you are getting data? You even admit to not having an API on your site. – GEOCHET Oct 21 '09 at 13:51
  • And if you are not screen scraping, why would you be concerned about <table> tags? – GEOCHET Oct 21 '09 at 13:52
  • 5
    I have never understood the argument for "improved semantics" in having a web page consisting of something along the lines of <div><div><div><div></div><div></div></div><div></div></div></div>. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Oct 21 '09 at 13:54
  • @Pesto: CSS tards. They are the same tards who cry about 'web standards'. – GEOCHET Oct 21 '09 at 13:55
  • 4
    @Rich B: I call those people "Firefox users". – Welbog Oct 21 '09 at 13:56
  • @Welbog: I concur. – GEOCHET Oct 21 '09 at 13:56
  • 3
    @Welbog: <div id="nou" style="reply angry">no u!</div> – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Oct 21 '09 at 13:57
  • 3
    @Pesto: <table class="table_with_bold_text_inside"><tr><td class="td_with_normal_text_override">ha!</td><td>I laugh at your web standards!</td></tr><tr><td colspan="2">pickles</td></tr></table> – Welbog Oct 21 '09 at 14:00
  • 3
    @Rich B: Just use XPath and jQuery, noob. – Welbog Oct 21 '09 at 14:02
  • 1
    @Welbog: That sounds like some sort of wizardry. Help me with this regex. – GEOCHET Oct 21 '09 at 14:03
  • 1
    @Rich B: Any regular expression that can correctly parse any HTML table is going to be longer than any HTML table. – Welbog Oct 21 '09 at 14:04
  • 4
    @Welbog: Why on Earth would you use the built-in functionality to put things in columns and span them across multiple columns when you could recreate it in CSS with a bunch of workarounds for various browsers?! It's madness! – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Oct 21 '09 at 14:09

There is nothing wrong with using <table>s.

If you are having issues with your screen scraper, why not ask for help with it?


I show amusement at Div vs. Tables holy war Here


There is nothing wrong with the use of the <table> tag when it is used for tabular data. I would argue that the SO questions view is a table of questions.

Using <div>s for a tabular information would be inappropriate.

(Besides, implementation of SO is for everyone, not just so your app can processes it happily)

(I haven't actually looked at the HTML, so maybe I'm wrong).


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