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Table Processing

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000041435D
Original Publication Date: 1984-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Feb-02
Document File: 5 page(s) / 45K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Bartlett, GM: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The functions of table processing are designed to provide a simple, yet flexible means of producing a wide variety of tables automatically. For simple tables, the markup required is also simple. Complex tables require more complex markup. Of special interest in the table processing language is the pictorial notation for describing a table layout. This notation provides a simple, yet very powerful way to show how parts of the table concept are related to each other, without the complexity that would be required to describe it with keywords, options, parameters, and other common syntactic elements. With the pictorial notation, a named table layout definition can be provided and then this layout can be used by name for any table that suits the layout.

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Table Processing

The functions of table processing are designed to provide a simple, yet flexible means of producing a wide variety of tables automatically. For simple tables, the markup required is also simple. Complex tables require more complex markup. Of special interest in the table processing language is the pictorial notation for describing a table layout. This notation provides a simple, yet very powerful way to show how parts of the table concept are related to each other, without the complexity that would be required to describe it with keywords, options, parameters, and other common syntactic elements. With the pictorial notation, a named table layout definition can be provided and then this layout can be used by name for any table that suits the layout. Other formatters that provide table processing functions tend to present a bewildering assortment of controls that the user must intersperse with the content of the table to achieve the desired results. Some processors require bizarre typing conventions to delimit the various parts of the table data. Table processing avoids much of this by separating the definition of the table layout from the content of the table. Where a table has recurring structures, the same named layout can be used repeatedly with several different groups of table data. The layout can then be changed in one place to achieve a different formatted result for all data using that layout, without touching the content of the table. This is impossible with ordinary input-driven table processors. It is common, but by no means required, to rule a table with vertical and horizontal rules to separate the parts. The table processing language is quite rule-driven. The separation between parts of a table is provided by the rule you use to hold the parts apart. This means that if you want two parts of a table separated by blank space, you must define an invisible rule to use for this purpose. For this reason, table processing rules must include "buffers" to keep text separated from the rule itself. The rules in the table processing concept do not have buffers because they are not required. Text formatting and placement of the text in a table is controlled by the layout of the table, which you define, not by whatever rules might be used. If a part of the table should be framed by a rule, this is a separate issue, and is separately requested. Furthermore, because table processing supports an overall structural definition of a table, where a particular place in the table is simultaneously the supports an overall structural definition of a table, where a particular place in the table is simultaneously the boundary of a major, outer structure and a minor, inner structure, the framing of the major structure can supersede that of the minor one. Because tables can contain arbitrary data at arbitrary positions, the underlying structure can be defined only very broadly.

Basically, a table is made up of rows, and rows are...