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Easy Embedded Tables for Your Website or Blog: Part One

Lori Halley 15 May 2008 1 comments

Some kinds of information are best presented in table form: school alumni lists, genealogy data, annotated lists of resources, survey results and statistical data, and so on. When you have several data fields for each item, a simple list won't cut it. Here are 5 methods you might choose to show a table on your web page.

1. Screenshot Image

Yes, you could grab a screenshot of your spreadsheet and post it as a image, of course, but then the information in the table cannot be searched the way plain text can. This is an annoyance to readers who'd like to use their browser's search function to find one item in a long table, or to save the data for their own use; and it means, too, that the contents of your table cannot be read and indexed by search engines. Collaboration is not an option, and to update a table that's an image you will have to replace it with a new one.

2. HTML Table Code

Building a table in HTML code is another option. It does require a basic knowledge of HTML, but at least the result is a searchable table. The main drawback of hand-coding a table is that it is a labour-intensive chore and filled with opportunities for making errors as you transfer data from your spreadsheet to the page. Updating or making changes to an HTML-coded table can be even more of a hassle, and collaboration will require all the members of your team to have editing privileges on that web page. Readers can highlight and copy the text in a table produced by this method, but there's no convenient way for them to copy it into a spreadsheet, ready to use.

3. WYSIWYG Web Page Editor

Many web-builder programs let you create a table as easily as you would with a word-processing program,  but with most of them you will still have to manually transfer the data from your spreadsheet into the table. The result is an HTML table that has the same limitations on collaboration, updating, and sharing with readers as if you had hand-coded the layout.

4. Excel Webpage Format

Microsoft Excel allows you to save a spreadsheet file in webpage format, then copy and paste that HTML snippet into your web page. That is much easier than coding a table yourself, but you'll have to repeat that process every time you want to update the spreadsheet. Collaboration is extremely difficult. And, again, there's no convenient way for readers to get your HTML table data into a spreadsheet on their own computers, so they can work with it.

5. Interactive Embedded Spreadsheet

There's another option -- a searchable, interactive table that you can easily embed in a web page, which will update on your site automatically whenever you update the original spreadsheet.

Using a web-based application such as Zoho Sheet, Google Spreadsheets, or DabbleDB, embedding a searchable table becomes a simple matter of importing or creating a spreadsheet, then editing your web page to paste in a snippet of code.

Readers can't alter your table data that's displayed on your web page, but they can download the spreadsheet to work with their own computers. Updating is easy: you simply make your changes to your Zoho, DabbleBD or Google spreadsheet, and the changes are automatically reflected on your web site. And any member of your team who has editing privileges for that original spreadsheet can collaborate on keeping the information up to date.

In Part Two of this article, we'll take a closer look at how to use Zoho Sheet, Google Spreadsheets, or Dabble DB to embed an interactive, searchable spreadsheet in your blog or web page.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Thursday, 15 May 2008 at 7:30 PM


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