Recipe 19.6 Formatting Lists and Tables with HTML Shortcuts

19.6.1 Problem

You have several lists and tables to generate and wish they were easier to output.

19.6.2 Solution

The CGI module provides HTML helper functions that, when passed array references, apply themselves to each element of the referenced array:

print ol( li([ qw(red blue green)]) );
@names = qw(Larry Moe Curly);
print ul( li({ -TYPE => "disc" }, \@names) );
<UL><LI TYPE="disc">Larry</LI> <LI TYPE="disc">Moe</LI>
    <LI TYPE="disc">Curly</LI></UL>

19.6.3 Discussion

The HTML-generating functions in can make it easy to generate lists and tables. Passed a simple string, these functions produce HTML for that string. But passed an array reference, they work on all strings in that array.

print li("alpha");
print li( [ "alpha", "omega"] ); 
<LI>alpha</LI> <LI>omega</LI>

The shortcut functions for lists are loaded when you use the :standard import tag, but you need to ask for :html3 explicitly to get helper functions for tables. There's also a conflict between the <TR> tag, which would normally make a tr( ) function, and Perl's built-in tr/// operator. Therefore, to make a table row, use the Tr( ) function.

This example generates an HTML table starting with a hash of arrays. The keys will be the row headers, and the array of values are the columns.

use CGI qw(:standard :html3);

%hash = (
    "Wisconsin"  => [ "Superior", "Lake Geneva", "Madison" ],
    "Colorado"   => [ "Denver", "Fort Collins", "Boulder" ],
    "Texas"      => [ "Plano", "Austin", "Fort Stockton" ],
    "California" => [ "Sebastopol", "Santa Rosa", "Berkeley" ],

$\ = "\n";

print "<TABLE><CAPTION>Cities I Have Known</CAPTION>";
print Tr(th [qw(State Cities)]);
for $k (sort keys %hash) {
    print Tr(th($k), td( [ sort @{$hash{$k}} ] ));
print "</TABLE>";

That generates text like this:

<TABLE> <CAPTION>Cities I Have Known</CAPTION>
    <TR><TH>State</TH> <TH>Cities</TH></TR>
    <TR><TH>California</TH> <TD>Berkeley</TD> <TD>Santa Rosa</TD> 
        <TD>Sebastopol</TD> </TR>
    <TR><TH>Colorado</TH> <TD>Boulder</TD> <TD>Denver</TD>
        <TD>Fort Collins</TD> </TR>
    <TR><TH>Texas</TH> <TD>Austin</TD> <TD>Fort Stockton</TD> 
        <TD>Plano</TD> </TR>
    <TR><TH>Wisconsin</TH> <TD>Lake Geneva</TD> <TD>Madison</TD> 

You can produce the same output using one print statement, although it is slightly trickier because you have to use a map to create the implicit loop. This print statement produces output identical to that displayed previously:

print table
        caption('Cities I have Known'),
        Tr(th [qw(State Cities)]),
        map { Tr(th($_), td( [ sort @{$hash{$_}} ] )) } sort keys %hash;

This is especially useful for formatting the results of a database query, as in Example 19-3 (see Chapter 14 for more on databases).

Example 19-3. salcheck
  # salcheck - check for salaries
  use DBI;
  use strict;
  use CGI qw(:standard :html3);
  my $limit = param("LIMIT");
  print header( ), start_html("Salary Query"),
        start_form( ),
        p("Enter minimum salary", textfield("LIMIT")),
        submit( ),
        end_form( );
  if (defined $limit) {
      my $dbh = DBI->connect("", 
          "username", "password") 
          or die "Connecting: $DBI::errstr";
      my $sth = $dbh->prepare("SELECT name,salary FROM employees 
          WHERE salary > $limit")
          or die "Preparing: ", $dbh->errstr;
          or die "Executing: ", $sth->errstr;
      print h1("Results"), "<TABLE BORDER=1>";
      while (my $row = $sth->fetchrow_arrayref( )) {
             print Tr( td( $row ) );
      print "</TABLE>\n";
  print end_html( );

19.6.4 See Also

The documentation for the standard CGI module; Recipe 14.9