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support for DataTable (aka ListGrid)

Do you think the HTML spec should do something differently? You can discuss spec feedback here, but you should send it to the WHATWG mailing list or file a bug in the W3C bugzilla for it to be considered.

support for DataTable (aka ListGrid)

Postby hohwille » Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:09 pm

HTML5 is hyped to make the web-technology support the features you need for web-applications easily out of the box.
And truly the improvements and new features are really nice and manifold.

However, there is such a common thing that is a major key to reasonable web-applications that seems to be still in the same rotten state since years - the table for displaying rows of data. You need at least the following features, just to mention a few:
  • Support for scrolling tbody vertically as needed and the entire table horizontally.
  • Ideally also support for fixed/frozen columns that do not scroll horizontally and remain steady (just as fixation of the window in excel).
  • Abilitly for the user to sort by column
  • Ability for the user to resize columns (with e-resize cursor on the fly by dragging the right border of the column)
  • Ability to scale the size of the entire table with the available size (without javascript layout managers)
  • Ability for the user to reorder columns with drag and drop
  • Ability for inline editing
  • For large datasets it may be required that you only render the visible part and update lazily while scrolling
  • Ability for multiple selection with checkboxes
  • Keyboard support to step through the column headers and cells with cursor keys
  • Accessibility support via WAI-ARIA
  • ...

To archive this you need tons of javascript and CSS. There is no feature complete solution available that is truly free (e.g. Apache Software Licensed). Most solutions I have seen so far have only a very limited feature set or are buggy.

Further, to make it work you have to heavily rely on hacks and workarounds.
Already for the feature 1. you will discover evil pain to make it happen while the spec says that TBODY has been introduced for this purpose: ... -row_group
However, it is simply not working in any browser by just assigning a fixed heigth and y-overflow: auto to tbody. It used to work in older FF versions but has been removed to be compatible with the "standard". The only solution is to rely on hacks ("display: block" and assigning fixed width to everything, etc.).
If all these features would be properly supported by the standard itself in a semantic and expressive way there would also be high chances for advanced usability across different devices, screen-resolutions, etc. and for advanced accessibility for users of screen-readers, etc.

Is there anything to expect in the next future on this topic? Or am I just missing some magic new features?

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Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:53 pm

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