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Don't understand this style

I'm working with this webpage and I don't understand the style for this tag.

This is the style for the main <div> tag (that holds other <div> tags)
<BODY>
<DIV id=main>...........</DIV></BODY>  :

     #main {POSITION: absolute; WIDTH: 950px; MARGIN-LEFT: -475px; LEFT: 50%}


I don't understand the "-475px; LEFT: 50%" part.

It displays with no problems in the browser, but is it ok to use this style for a webpage?


Other styles used for the page:
BODY {MARGIN: 0px;}
HTML {BACKGROUND-IMAGE: url(images/GT-3000x1BG_lt_grey3.gif); BACKGROUND-REPEAT: repeat-y; BACKGROUND-POSITION: center 50%}

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MikeMCSD
Asked:
MikeMCSD
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1 Solution
 
Nathan BoveSoftware EngineerCommented:
The "MARGIN-LEFT:-475px;" part will shift the div to the left 475 pixels.  And the "LEFT:50%" part will make left section of the div begin at 50% at the midpoint of it's parent.  The combination of the two will make the div show up 475 pixels to the left of the midpoint of the screen, essentially centering the div.
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MikeMCSDAuthor Commented:
thanks . .

but why do that to center it?  Aren't there other ways, or better ways to do it?
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Nathan BoveSoftware EngineerCommented:
As for why certain programmers code things in certain ways, I have given up trying to understand such things.  Yes, there are better ways to center a block.  If I were writing the style for the above block I would have written it as:

#main {POSITION: relative; WIDTH: 950px; MARGIN-LEFT: auto; MARGIN-RIGHT: auto}

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MikeMCSDAuthor Commented:
I miss laying out pages with <tables>.
This <div> thing is confusing the hell out of me.
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Nathan BoveSoftware EngineerCommented:
Ultimately, it is up to you to lay your page out in whatever manner makes the most sense to you.  There are advantages to using DIV tags and CSS to control the style of your site, but if it makes the site confusing and unmaintainable for you, then I would say that the benefits do not outweight the drawbacks for you.  Use whatever method works best for you and makes a clean page that is easy for you maintain.
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MikeMCSDAuthor Commented:
But <div>'s are suppose to be better for SEO and page load speed.
Then you have to deal with the IE6 and IE7 problems.
I guess I'll just have to put more study time into it.

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Nathan BoveSoftware EngineerCommented:
You are correct.  Incidentally, if your question has been answered, please mark this question as answered.
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MikeMCSDAuthor Commented:
I tried your style and the original one in IE5 and the original one was centered
and yours didn't display right.
I'm beginning to think there is some real reason why they used that style.
Maybe it works best for all browsers.
If it wasn't for all this browser compatility nonsense, CSS would'nt be so bad.
It will take another few years before this problem goes away.
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Nathan BoveSoftware EngineerCommented:
It appears that your original question has been resolved.  If so, please mark this question as resolved.
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MikeMCSDAuthor Commented:
Need someone who is really a pro at CCS to give the correct insight into this question.
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