Tonight I was asked to look into the code of a couple sites to figure out the proficiency and tools of the developers/companies that built the sites. This is the second time I have been asked to do this in the past few weeks.

I’m used to looking at the latest and best code examples because that’s the type of code I want to look at, and that’s the type of code that the companies and persons I follow develop. So it’s interesting to look at code that is not developed to the latest standards and try to figure out what’s going on.

I found myself digging through the code, searching for logic, trying to understand the progress. Certain usages of CSS would tell me something about the developer’s exposure and understanding. The tables and embedded javascript would show me a lack of advancement.

An overall observation was the prevalence of a table/CSS middle ground. All the sites I looked at were table based. But the use of CSS wasn’t the CSS of a few years ago, with classes everywhere and no IDs. There were some obvious nods to current practices, but the CSS was oddly crossbred with tables.

Table-CSS hybrid code

My assumption is that there’s enough discussion about CSS these days that even those who are very slow to change (the majority) are recognizing the shift, but are not fully committing, either because they don’t understand how it works, or they’re afraid to completely give up tables, or both.

Another observation is that of sites I have looked at built with Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, they have all been table-based interspersed with CSS. What gives?

I wish I could talk to the developers to learn their CSS philosophy. Where did they get their information? Are there sites out there that teach the benefits of a table-CSS hybrid structure? (I hope not.) Wouldn’t they rather work with leaner code?

Alas, I will not be having those conversations. I can only dig through the published code and speculate.