Valid Table Tag usage for Web Semantics?

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the latest in Web Development you’ll know that tables are bad. The very mention of this tag is enough to make veteran CSS stylists launch into a manic episode resulting in you losing your front teeth. Or at the very least your dignity!

Ive been wondering lately though – are there more uses for table than simply for scientific or mathematical tabular data? Take the example of a product grid on a site like Amazon. 15 products are displayed on each page, 3 columns by 5 rows. Would it be appropriate to use DIVs over tables in this instance? If you implemented the solution with DIVs you’d have to use three separate tags – one corresponding to each column. Now lets assume that you are using a screenreader. You are likely to interpret that the products grid consists of three independent divisions or parts. Is this correct semantically? I don’t think so. After all were displayed objects from the same entity – Products.

Id be more inclined to use a table here, as at least it unifies all of the objects under one tag.

Its all too easy to assume that DIVs are the solution to every XHTML problem these days. I guess it takes you to stand back a bit and assess the situation properly from the perspective of the user.

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