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page elements that are absolutely positioned, to contain all your content. It works great and you can also make the designs conform automatically to any screen width - see my example at www.philpearl.us/adaptive/.
I understand that CSS is not everyone's thing, but I wouldn't call it unusable. I think what frustrates many users is that while it is simple to use in a basic way, it can be difficult to use well. A lot of the burden for organization is on the user, and you do need a strategy and a knowledge of the whole application in order to use it economically. There is something of a craft to it, which I realize is not something everyone feels should be required of them. Because there are so many ways to do the same thing, more important than the immediate CSS rules is the planning and organization.
CSS would not be usable if it produced errors, or if the browsers weren't so tolerant of bad CSS. You really do need to take the time and get the basics of specificity and selectors first. Some of the layout concepts can take a while to gel, and you do still need to deal with some browser differences (although it's a lot better now than it used to be). But after a while I began to appreciate how much you can get done with very little code, once you have the hierarchy of styles established for the application, it becomes very predictable.
I see a lot of people hate on CSS, but very often specific issues turn out to be known and solvable. I can see why it can be seen as chaotic and unplanned, but I think it's better to think of it as very open-ended, and better to re-adjust expectations on what's needed to use it.
I had been a CS major in the mid '80s but got banned from the computer lab when I refused to give up a terminal to an upperclassman. I quit school and did factory work for 10 years. During that time, I stayed completely away from computers. When I finally went back to school for programming, I was absolutely amazed at how much things had changed!
I bought my first windows machine and copy of Visual Studio 6 in '98. Finally, no more lab! I had my own personal compilers! I had a Personal Web Server! Programming had moved from just procedural to graphical/object/event driven. It was a whole new world and I enjoyed it immensely... so much to learn and create!
Merlin reminds me of that almost magical feeling of empowerment and freedom when I finally got back in the game.
When I was growin' up, I was the smartest kid I knew. Maybe that was just because I didn't know that many kids. All I know is now I feel the opposite.