[users] Tables in Gemtext

Sean Conner sean at conman.org
Sat Jan 2 04:55:23 GMT 2021


It was thus said that the Great Kiëd Llaentenn once stated:
> Hello,
> 
> Just recently I was creating a Gemini mirror of an HTTP site, and came
> across several pages that made heavy use of tables. I did what I suspect
> most Gemini publishers/content authors do: use ASCII tables, like so:
> 
> +--------------------------------+-------+
> | Food                           | Price |
> +--------------------------------+-------+
> | Eggs                           | $2    |
> | Eggs and spam                  | $4    |
> | Eggs, spam, eggs and spam      | $8    |
> | Spam spam baked beans and spam | $8    |
> | Just spam                      | $2    |
> +--------------------------------+-------+
> 
> There are several problems with this approach, though:
> 
> 1. It requires the client to display the table in a monospaced font,
>    which many would prefer not to use.
> 2. Text in table rows won't be wrapped properly on narrow displays.
> 3. ASCII tables are anything but screenreader friendly, since there's no
>    semantic information about the table's structure.
> 4. It mixes information and presentation, which is against the spirit of
>    Gemini(?)
> 
> So, are there any other options for having tables in Gemtext, other than
> adding a new syntax to the spec? I'm hard pressed to think of another
> solution.

  There's not much choice you have in this matter.  I use preformatted
blocks for HTML tables, you can see two examples of which here:

	gemini://gemini.conman.org/boston/2020/12/28.1

  The format I use works because I only use HTML tables for actual tabular
data and *not* for layout purposes.  The output uses tabs (HT, or character
9) between each field.  The <caption> becomes the first line; the <thead>
(table header) is followed by a line of dashes; any <tfoot> section will
appear at the bottom of the table, again separated by dashes.

  I don't bother with any further decorations (like you have) because I
don't feel its necessary (and if a cut-n-paste keeps the tab characters, it
becomes rather easy to manipulate the data).

  -spc



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