I heard you like tables...



  • A little background to set the stage: I am a teacher at a private high school in the US. We're a very "forward thinking" school--every child has an iPad, every textbook is electronic, every classroom has one or more appleTVs (we like apple here) for remote projection, etc. We contract with FooBar Inc. to provide an web-based electronic administration suite. Grade-book, attendance records, rosters, etc. This system (SS for short) is pretty enterprise grade crap. Just about every page interaction requires a full page reload. It has a distressing tendency to crap out under moderate load (like all the teachers trying to take attendance at once). When it crashes (often) it dumps a full stack trace of what appears to be a Java backend onto the screen.

    But that isn't what this WTF is about. No, this is about the generated HTML for the main page. Here's the main landing page (suitable annonimized):

    0_1481988745965_main_page.PNG

    Ugly, but mostly functional in a early 2000's sort of way.

    I then had the misfortune to look at the code (showing examples to a Web Design class). Insert meme about the goggles doing nothing:
    TL;DR it's tables all the way down. Most with only a single <tr> and a single <td>. The header image is an image wrapped in a table (single element again) wrapped in an iframe. The content area is a <ul> about 3 single-element tables deep. Each of the groups of links is within a single <li> The links themselves are wrapped in <div> tags, somewhat senselessly.

    0_1481988809852_code.PNG



  • 0_1481989205990_upload-169cfbf2-1384-4779-836c-734cb3338225



  • @Benjamin-Hall said in I heard you like tables...:

    Ugly, but mostly functional in a early 2000's sort of way.

    Um, actually, I really like that layout. Like...when I go to this sort of page I want to do something. But there's always some "news" story type thing there and the meat is hidden down at the bottom of the page or behind a menu or whatever.

    Just show me the stuff!

    OK, the using tables thing is kind of lame.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @Benjamin-Hall said in I heard you like tables...:

    We're a very "forward thinking" school--every child has an iPad

    throw new InvalidArgumentException("There's nothing 'forward thinking' about turning your students into iDiots!");



  • This is tame compared to a ton of other shit sites I've seen. I'd also venture a guess this site is dated, too. Verdana and tables are to 2000 as Lucy and Desi were to 1955. I'd go as far as to say the iframe header is a bigger WTF than the table layout, although I'm guessing their reasoning here was to have the equivalent of templates with includes without any server-side magic.

    Also, just for the record, table based layouts were the thing to do in 2000 because it was the most reliable way to lay out your stuff when most of your folks were on IE5, Netscape, or Opera, and monitors back then were pretty standard 4:3 displays with a handful of possible resolutions. As soon as you wanted to use CSS, you were automatically breaking half of your users' browsers, so it was either tables or an ugly "This site works best with [IE|Netscape]. If you use [the_other] you are a square" message. It wasn't until around 2002-3 people really started pushing for CSS layouts and it took a few years for many sites to adopt it, since they still had visitors hanging onto outdated browsers that couldn't support it up until 2007 or so.

    All in all, I would guess (read: hope) the site is simply just something that was designed in the 2000s and never updated or modernized, which is not as much a WTF, especially if the site doesn't look like Geocities. The little I see here isn't too hard on the eyes, and if it's functional, then why spend your budget money on modernizing it? It's as much a WTF as seeing the principal of the school in a 2000 Ford Taurus.



  • @The_Quiet_One said in I heard you like tables...:

    Verdana

    I found out today that our build server website primary font choice is verdana, with secondary helvetica. For years my linux laptop didn't carry either.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @PleegWat Seriously?

    Isn't Helvetica, like, the single most popular font of all time? How does that make any sense?



  • @masonwheeler said in I heard you like tables...:

    Isn't Helvetica, like, the single most popular font of all time?

    Isn't Helvetica non-free?



  • @The_Quiet_One said in I heard you like tables...:

    "This site works best with [IE|Netscape]. If you use [the_other] you are a square"

    But... but...

    Huey Lewis And The News - Hip To Be Square – 03:51
    — emimusic



  • @Maciejasjmj said in I heard you like tables...:

    @masonwheeler said in I heard you like tables...:

    Isn't Helvetica, like, the single most popular font of all time?

    Isn't Helvetica non-free?

    They are freeware (Microsoft doesn't charge you), but they are considered non-Free because they are non-modifiable.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @TimeBandit So in other words, the *nix folks are once again putting ideology over actually developing a working system?

    Color me shocked!



  • @masonwheeler well I installed the ubuntu fonts on it pretty fast. The new one is redhat-based but they ship a godawful monospace font.



  • @masonwheeler said in I heard you like tables...:

    So in other words, the *nix folks are once again putting ideology over actually developing a working system?

    If you mean staying out of reach of MS lawyers, then yes :p



  • @TimeBandit said in I heard you like tables...:

    They are freeware (Microsoft doesn't charge you)

    What's Microsoft got to do with Helvetica? It's licenced by Linotype.



  • @Maciejasjmj said in I heard you like tables...:

    What's Microsoft got to do with Helvetica? It's licenced by Linotype.

    You're right, Helvetica is not part of MS Core fonts



  • @Benjamin-Hall said in I heard you like tables...:

    Most with only a single <tr> and a single <td>

    Yeah, so? How else do you expect to center the text horz and vert?


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @Lorne-Kates said in I heard you like tables...:

    Yeah, so? How else do you expect to center the text horz and vert?



  • @The_Quiet_One that's the problem. That particular page, as well as some of the actual action pages were last updated (as in major overhaul) last year. It's not hosted locally to the school: it's on their servers (which frequently die). I overheard some of the admins saying that since one of $vendor's people had left they couldn't run some of our custom reports. Now, unless their database is another wtf, those particular reports would be a couple of SQL queries away. That, or a single button press. In all likely hood, they were being run manually.


  • area_pol

    @Benjamin-Hall said in I heard you like tables...:

    @The_Quiet_One that's the problem. That particular page, as well as some of the actual action pages were last updated (as in major overhaul) last year. It's not hosted locally to the school: it's on their servers (which frequently die). I overheard some of the admins saying that since one of $vendor's people had left they couldn't run some of our custom reports. Now, unless their database is another wtf, those particular reports would be a couple of SQL queries away. That, or a single button press. In all likely hood, they were being run manually.

    The company employs only two technical people: 'the programmer' and 'the reports guy'.
    The programmer learnt his stuff in early 2000s and never got beyond that. He either works for this company forever, or that school system is his project from the start and the company you know is only a reseller*.

    The reports guy left, so there's no one left to run reports - simple as that.

    *I met a guy like that not so long ago.



  • @masonwheeler said in I heard you like tables...:

    Isn't Helvetica, like, the single most popular font of all time? How does that make any sense?

    Only among people who know something about typography (though AFAIK, these days it’s considered old-fashioned). Everyone else seems to prefer Arial for some unknown reason.

    Oh yeah, it's because it comes with Windows and the majority of people can’t tell the difference between the two.



  • @boomzilla said in I heard you like tables...:

    @Benjamin-Hall said in I heard you like tables...:

    Ugly, but mostly functional in a early 2000's sort of way.

    Um, actually, I really like that layout. Like...when I go to this sort of page I want to do something. But there's always some "news" story type thing there and the meat is hidden down at the bottom of the page or behind a menu or whatever.

    Just show me the stuff!

    100%. And so few people seem to agree. Glitz, newsdumps & shiny distractions can all just fuck off please so I can see what I need to get to quickly and easily.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Gurth said in I heard you like tables...:

    and the majority of people can’t tell the difference between the two

    If most people can't tell the difference, is there any meaningful difference?



  • @Jaloopa There is to those who can. Though I’ll concede that it could just be a problem like this one:


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