[whatwg] Enhanced data tables

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Fri Dec 3 09:18:27 PST 2004

On Mon, 8 Nov 2004, Matthew Thomas wrote:
> All HTML tables are already data-bearing, unless they're non-conformant. 
> (<td> stands for Table Data.) You might make a case that <table> is more 
> often used incorrectly than correctly, but you would then also need to 
> make a case that creating a "separate designation for data-bearing 
> tables" would solve the problem.
> The latter would have two main pitfalls. Firstly, authors who had used 
> <table> properly in good faith would be annoyed that *they* were the 
> ones having to change their markup, rather than the authors who had used 
> <table> wrongly to begin with. Secondly, the mistaken authors might 
> *also* start using the new syntax just because it's the cool thing to 
> do, even when it's inappropriate (just like they jumped from using <b> 
> to using <strong> even when it was inappropriate, or from using <i> to 
> using <em> even when it was inappropriate, or from producing "HTML" to 
> producing "XHTML" even when it was not well-formed).

Yeah, for tables <table> is indeed the way to go.

The data grid idea that I assumed Ben was referring to isn't quite the 
same as a table, although I'm finding it difficult to justify the 
difference. From a practical standpoint the difference between a <table> 
and a data grid is that the table's data is all in a DOM content model, 
whereas the data grid can be dynamically populated from script, one row at 
a time, so that only the displayed portion need be in memory at any one 
time. Another difference is that tables have a legacy of rendering 
semantics which we can't do much about, whereas for the data grid we want 
to be able to use GUI-specific native controls (or native-looking 
controls) which have features such as clickable column headers, draggable 
column separators, etc. Also, datagrids are limited to text in each cell 
(with one icon per row), rows can be selected, data can be marked as 
editable, etc.

There is a big overlap, but they aren't the same.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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