Creating HTML tables with JavaScript/DOM methods

gwagner's picture

The proper way of creating an HTML table with JavaScript and inserting it into the HTML body element is using the DOM methods insertRow and insertCell, as in the following code example:

function createTable() {
  var i=0, rowEl=null,
      tableEl = document.createElement("table");
  // create 10 table rows, each with two cells
  for (i=1; i <= 10; i++) {
    rowEl = tableEl.insertRow();  // DOM method for creating table rows
    rowEl.insertCell().textContent = "table cell "+ i +"-1" ;      
    rowEl.insertCell().textContent = "table cell "+ i +"-2" ;      
  document.body.appendChild( tableEl);

The DOM method insertRow can be called on a table element for creating and inserting a new row, while insertCell can be called on a row element for creating and inserting a new cell.

Many web developers are not familiar with the DOM, or still think (mistakenly) that it's not well supported by browsers or too slow, and create HTML elements in the form of strings that are inserted into the DOM using the innerHTML attribute. This is not a safe, and certainly not a best practice, approach.

Please help me in spreading the words: upvote my StackOverflow article which was downvoted by developers ignoring the progress that was made in recent years in web standards.

The following UML class diagram summarizes the DOM interfaces for programmatically manipulating table elements. Notice that insertRow can also be called on tHead and tFoot, which are table section elements.