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8/10/03: Version 1.0 released


The Form and Table Managers are HTML::Mason components that render HTML forms and tables for web applications. They are designed to allow engineers to concentrate on the substance while providing designers with enough flexibility to provide an appealing and functional presentation.

What's The Problem?

There are three basic types of pages in web applications; forms, tables, and reports.

  • Forms are where a user enters data for processing by the application.
  • Tables are lists of entities in the application (names, addresses, movie times, etc.) that can be paged through if there are more items than would ideally fit on a single page.
  • Reports are pages where the data is layed out in a specific format for viewing and printing.

In the past the workflow for web application front ends has been to have the back-end developers supply an API to the front-end developers who build each page by hand in a web authoring tool. In ther Form Manager (FM) and Table Manager (TM) model the designer builds or customizes components of the forms, which are then used by the managers to construct an interface based on the requirements of the back-end.

The Basics

The Form and Table Managers make it easy for implementers to create good looking and functional HTML forms and tables. For forms the implementer can say, "These are the fields I want and their validations, go to it and come back to me when you have the right data." For tables the implementer can say, "Here is my data, and oh yeah, I want only these three columns and the second column is dollars." That is how easy the workflow is.

How They Are Used

The form and table manager are two completely seperate entities. We will cover how each is used seperately.

Form Manager

The Form Manager takes as input a hash table which contains, among other things, an array of fields which define what data should be requested from the user, how it should be displayed and how it should be validated. Given that information FM will either display the form or give you back the data from a previous form if the data is valid.

Table Manager

The Table Manager (TM) takes two inputs. The first is the data, which is a reference to an array of hashes. The second is an optional hash table which describes how the table should be formatted. This can include a list of the columns, the title for each column, the format, etc. Given these inputs the table manager will handle all of the formatting of the data.


The FM and TM components were developed at Certive, Inc. in 2001 as they were building a time and cost accounting application for small consulting shops. Later the application was ported to Java so the FM and TM were no longer required. In the Summer of 2003 Certive donated the source of the FM and TM to the Open Source community.

Where To Go From Here

You can download the source from the downloads page. Or you can check out some screenshots. Enjoy!

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