Using CSS to create complex data-entry forms? Is this practical?

I am hoping to find an answer to a vexing problem of creating complex data entry forms that are not just arranged horizontally, but closer to what one would find in a Windows business application, such as a WinForms app? I.e., controls arranged both horizontally and vertically, some in panel groups, etc. This is much more common layout in business apps in order to minimize scrolling, and will be expected in a SAAS version of a professional business data entry form.

IOW, here is a statement of the problem:

1. All of the data needs to be presented together so that the user does not have to page to see each of the fieldsets.
2. Each form must be able to accommodate densely packed controls with MANY data fields presented as text inputs, drop-down lists, checkboxes and static display.
3. Potential for multiple action buttons.
4. The data entry page must present these elements on a single page organized into appropriate fieldsets (and labels as well).
5. The page needs to fit in a browser window on a 1024x768 display.
6. It needs to work in multiple browsers, although requiring at least IE 8 and above or equivalent is acceptable.
7. With few exceptions, no vertical or horizontal scrolling on the input form.

It may be that in this case, we are still stuck with tables, but I would prefer to use CSS if it is practical in this scenario as the HTML will be cleaner.
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  • HI Bill,
    I'm sorry about the delay in responding to you. Unfortunately we're not able (or staffed) to give general advice on CSS or data entry forms. If this is a question about a topic or example covered in one of our books, please contact our book tech support staff at:
    and they will be able to help.

    Sorry that we couldn't give you the advice you were after.

    Tai H.
    Customer Service Rep,
    O'Reilly Media
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