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PmWiki > AdvancedTables

There are four tags for large-scale table processing. All must be at the beginning of a line to have any effect.

(:table (attr...):)

ends any previous table (equivalent to (:tableend:)), and generates a new HTML <table> tag with the attributes given by attr. Valid attributes and values:

(:cell (attr...):)

closes the previous table cell, if any, and generates a new cell with the attributes given by attr. In HTML, this creates a new "<td attr>" tag (and possibly <table>, <tr>, and </td> tags if they are needed to produce a valid HTML table).

(:cellnr (attr..):)

closes the previous table cell, if any, and generates a new cell at the beginning of the next row. In HTML, this creates a "<tr><td attr>" tag, and possibly <table>, </td>, and </tr> tags if they are needed for valid HTML.


closes the previous table cell and closes off any table. Generates </td>, </tr>, and </table> tags as needed.

For the table, cell, and cellnr tags the author can specify any attributes that would be valid in the HTML <table> or <td> tags. Thus you can specify rowspan, colspan, etc. arguments to build arbitrary tables. However, it's not possible to nest a (:table:) inside of a (:cell:) or (:cellnr:) -- the next paragraph explains why.

Many are likely to ask why we didn't just use the standard HTML table markup (<table>, <tr>, <td>, <th>) instead of creating a new markup, and allowing nested tables as a result. There are two answers: first, the HTML table markup is very ugly for naive authors (see PmWiki.Audiences and PmWiki.PmWikiPhilosophy #2), and second, it'd be very easy for authors to create tables that are incorrect HTML and that display incorrectly (or not at all) on some browsers. Even seasoned web professionals sometimes get the table markup wrong, so it's a bit unrealistic to expect the average author to always get it right, or to be able to read arbitrary HTML table markup that someone else has created.

Common comment: Surely, the average or naive author would not be writing HTML directly, but using a tool, such as FrontPage, or even MSWord, to generate the HTML. This would be a lot simpler than learning even the simplest PmWiki markups.

Pm's Response: And once the HTML has been generated and posted, how is someone else going to edit or modify the table if they don't have the original FrontPage or MSWord file used to create it? Remember that we're talking about collaborative authoring. The HTML that those packages generate is among the hardest to read and edit of all!

It's difficult to write the code needed to make PmWiki understand and fix arbitrary table markup, so PmWiki uses the simplified version above. Still, this version is able to handle most table requirements (with the possible exception of nested tables).

And, this is not to say that nested HTML tables are impossible in PmWiki --they just can't be easily created by wiki authors using the default wiki markup. A site administrator can of course create header/footer HTML code and other LocalCustomizations that make use of nested tables.

Example 1. A table using advanced markup.

(:table border=1 cellpadding=5 cellspacing=0:)
(:cell:) a1
(:cell:) b1
(:cell:) c1
(:cell:) d1
(:cellnr:) a2
(:cell:) b2
(:cell:) c2
(:cell:) d2

a1 b1 c1 d1
a2 b2 c2 d2

In HTML, this is the same as

  <table border='1' cellpadding='5' cellspacing='0'>

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Page last modified on December 20, 2004, at 08:08 AM