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Re: Hierarchies with tabular data...

From: Nathan Youngman <junkmail@nathany.com>
Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2007 18:46:20 -0700
Message-Id: <BF85C4D9-FECF-480D-98AB-085104F5EB86@nathany.com>
To: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>

I would describe a hierarchical table as an "outline" like used in  
Mac OS Finder and Outliner programs. Basically a tree of data that  
also has columns. The Extjs javascript library describes them as  
Column Trees".

The following is a screen shot of an HTML "table" of this nature. It  
was desirable for the data to be collapsable for this project.
http://nathany.com/hierarchical-tables.png

The implementation may not be what you expect. Each line is actually  
a list element containing a series of spans, which through some CSS  
trickery achieve the "look" of a table. I'm not suggesting anyone  
should use this method. :-) However, lists have the benefit of making  
it easy to collapse portions of the tree. Nested list elements are  
hidden when the display property of the parent changes. A standard  
HTML table doesn't carry this concept. So I was faced with the choice  
of ugly HTML (a list) and simple JavaScript, or ugly JavaScript  
(collapsing hierarchies) with a simple HTML table.

Note that while our mockup had the rows indented on the left, this  
isn't absolutely necessary... it would be fine if the text inside the  
table were indented to represent the tree structure, while keeping a  
hard edge on the table itself. That is, just so long as the table was  
collapsable.

Obviously it would be a lot easier if HTML provided a method to  
represent this sort of data. My method also has various problems with  
wrapping when the window is too small, it would be nice if there were  
a better way.

- nathan.



On 13-Oct-07, at 6:10 PM, Ben 'Cerbera' Millard wrote:

> These are the things we need links to. Pictures of operating  
> systems where the interface is built without using HTML are less  
> relevant than actual use cases of heirarchical tables published in  
> HTML.
>
> My ongoing research into tables as used on the web (see signature)  
> have found heirarchical tables do exist in HTML. Sometimes it is  
> left to indention to indicate the heirarchy, sometimes empty cells  
> are inserted, sometimes headers+id are used in an attempt to "patch  
> up" the HTML4 header search algorithm.
>
> Sadly, many of the heirarchical tables I found were fossilised in  
> PDFs or buried in ASCII art. Perhaps they would be HTML if the  
> authors had an authoring tool which made it easy? I have not e- 
> mailed their authors about this but everyone is free to help spread  
> the workload.

---
Nathan Youngman
Web: http://www.nathany.com
Received on Sunday, 14 October 2007 01:46:42 UTC

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