Printing Wide HTML Webpages?

Subject: Printing Wide HTML Webpages?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, CB Casper <knowone -at- surfy -dot- net>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 13:55:46 -0500

CB Casper wonders: <<We provide an HTML page created from an Excel file that contains a large matrix of products and their suitability in various other server products. We use Excel to allow us to format this complicated table with enough cells to be readable... In order to get the information readable, the spreadsheet is wider than a standard paper page... We chose to provide this in HTML because we couldn't find a way to format it such that it would print well.>>

Let's paraphrase your original question to clarify the problem: "How do we print something on an 8.5x11 page that is too large to be legible if we print it on an 8.5x11 page?" See the problem? <g>

The answer is that you can't do it, and probably shouldn't try. The solution depends on understanding why there's so much data, the relationships within the groups of data, and how that data will be used.

For example, you may discover that the data falls into four natural groups, each of which will be examined independantly and thus could be presented on its own separate page. Alternatively, you might discover that most readers only need a summary of the mass of data; in that case, you could produce a summary spreadsheet optimized for printing on a single page, but with hyperlinks that allow users to drill down to see complete details for any given line item in the summary. That breaks up the information into smaller chunks, each of which fits on its own single page.

Or you might step back and realize that the optimal solution is actually to provide a downloadable spreadsheet file that lets users decide for themselves how to format, manipulate, pivot, summarize, and drill down into the information. Or perhaps even treat this as a perfect situation to use a query engine of some sort that polls a database (your spreadsheet) and dynamically generates Web pages in response to those queries.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
www.geoff-hart.com
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References:
Printing Wide HTML Webpages: From: CB Casper

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