DITA topics support two types of tables. One is the
most common table format used in industry, the <CALS table>
(or more recently known also as the Oasis Table Exchange Model). The CALS
table supports the spanning of multiple rows or columns for special layout
or organizational needs, and provides a wide variety of controls over the
display properties of the data and even the table structure itself.
The other table structure in
DITA is called <simpletable>. As the name implies,
it is structurally less sophisticated than the CALS table, and can be used
as a very simple, regular table for which close control of formatting is not
as important. However, the main advantage of simpletable is for describing
lists of data with regular headings, such as telephone directory listings,
display adapter configuration data, or API properties.
The <table> element organizes arbitrarily complex relationships of tabular information. This standard table markup allows column or row spanning and table captions or descriptions. An optional title allowed inside the table element provides a caption to describe the table.
The <tgroup> element in a table contains column, row, spanning, header and footer specifications, and the body (<tbody>) of the table.
The <colspec> element contains a column specification for a table, including assigning a column name and number, cell content alignment, and column width.
The table header (<thead>) element precedes the table body (<tbody>) element in a complex table.
The <tbody> element contains the rows in a table.
The <row> element contains a single row in a table <tgroup>.
The <entry> element defines a single cell in a table.
The <simpletable> element is used for tables that are regular in structure and do not need a caption. Choose the simple table element when you want to show information in regular rows and columns. For example, multi-column tabular data such as phone directory listings or parts lists are good candidates for simpletable. Another good use of simpletable is for information that seems to beg for a "three-part definition list"—just use the keycol attribute to indicate which column represents the "key" or term-like column of your structure.
The simpletable header (<sthead>) element contains the table's header row. The header row is optional in a simple table.
The <simpletable> row (<strow>) element specifies a row in a simple table.
The simpletable entry (<stentry>) element represents a single table cell, like <entry> in <table>. You can place any number of stentry cells in either an <sthead> element (for headings) or <strow> element (for rows of data).
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OASIS DITA Version 1.1 Language Specification -- OASIS Standard, 1 August 2007
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