[whatwg] Enhanced data tables

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Tue Apr 19 03:59:22 PDT 2005

On Fri, 3 Dec 2004, Afternoon wrote:
> > 
> > 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.
> I don't believe the data necessarily needs to be absent from the 
> content, although it certainly could be.

There are cases where it must. For example, the data grid for a mail 
application showing a mailbox with 10,000 mails. You simply cannot have 
all 10,000 DOM rows in memory. It doesn't work.

> > 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.
> This is my key point. These features increase the usability of data 
> grids in native controls. Adding them to browsers would create more 
> functional applications for less work on the author's part.


> > There is a big overlap, but they aren't the same.
> Indeed, a browser that assumed every <table> was data-bearing and should 
> have controls displayed would be all but useless.

Sadly, from a pragmatic point of view this is indeed the case.

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

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