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Briefly noted: Merged cells is one win for Open XML over ODF

Tue 19 Sep 2006, 11:33 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
If there is one item where Office Open XML (OOXML) is clearly better than ODF, it is in the area of merged table cells.  Both Office Open XML and ODF support merged table cells, and they both handle merged columns (horizontal merging) in a somewhat similar manner which is also similar to HTML's COLSPAN attribute.  But merged rows (vertical merging) is an absolute disaster in ODF.  To quote a description from the on-line OASIS OpenDocument Essentials - Chapter 4:

Cells that span rows are an entirely different story. Rather than a simple table:number-rows-spanned attribute, OpenDocument represents the cells on either side of the large cell as sub-tablesFigure 4.6, “Cells Spanning Rows” shows a table with a cell that spans two rows. As far as OpenDocument is concerned, the table has only two rows. The second row consists of: 
  • A cell that contains a two-by-one subtable
  • An ordinary cell (labelled main 2,2)
  • A cell that spans two columns and contains a two-by-two subtable.

Figure 4.6. Cells Spanning Rows
Sample table with spanned rows
So, a table with four columns and three rows has two cells merged and becomes... a mess.  Ugh

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