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HTML table with fixed header and footer and scrollable body without fixed widths

I want to to create a table with fixed thead and tfoot and a scrollable tbody!

I’ve tried several approaches, both CSS only and CSS + Javascript, but they are all weak and unreliable and I can easily break them by changing the markup in the demo.

What I want is a way to have the table to behave like a table, this means that the browser will automatically adjust columns based on the content (both at page load that in case of window resize) and that in these scenarios:

  1. if the content of the column’s header (thead > tr > th) is larger than the content of the column’s body (tbody > tr > td) and larger than the content of the column’s footer (tfoot > tr > td) the column should resize based on the size of the column’s header

  2. if the content of the column’s body (tbody > tr > td) is larger than the content of the column’s header (thead > tr > th) and larger than the content of the column’s footer (tfoot > tr > td) the column should resize based on the size of the column’s body

  3. if the content of the column’s footer (tfoot > tr > td) is larger than the content of the column’s header (thead > tr > th) and larger than the content of the column’s body (tbody > tr > td) the column should resize based on the size of the column’s footer

The table below should clarify the scenarios:

<table>
  <thead>
    <tr>
      <th>Header one *leads the width* (case 1)</th>
      <th>Header two</th>
      <th>Header three</th>
    </tr>
  </thead>
  <tbody>
    <tr>
      <td>Column one</td>
      <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
      <td>Column three</td>
    </tr>
  </tbody>
  <tfoot>
    <tr>
      <td>Footer one</td>
      <td>Footer two</td>
      <td>Footer three *leads the width* (case 3)</td>
    </tr>
  </tfoot>
</table>

I want a clean (as possible) and reliable solution that will work for the different scenarios, possibly CSS only but also JavaScript is OK (vanilla and clean JavaScript, not jQuery plugins). I don’t care about old browser support (it would be great to have it or at least to reach a solution which can degrade gracefully on old browser but it’s optional)… I can even accept to use divs instead of table nodes if the final solution works as expected… so in 2016, with modern browser and CSS is this possible somehow?!

EDIT:

The body should scroll vertically and the table may have any number of columns

UPDATE:

I came up with this solution: https://codepen.io/daveoncode/pen/LNomBE but I’m still not 100% satisfied. The main issue is that I can’t set different backgrounds for header and footer cells.

UPDATE 2:

it works now!

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Answer

I finally implemented a working solution!

The relevant CSS is the following:

.wrapper {
  width: 90%;
  position: relative;
  border: 1px solid #000;
  background: #efefef;
  overflow: hidden;
  border-radius: 7px;
}

.container {
  overflow-y: auto;
  height: 200px;
  border-top: 41px solid transparent;
  border-bottom: 41px solid transparent;
}

table {
  border-spacing: 0;
  border-collapse: collapse;
  width: 100%;
}

td + td {
  border-left: 1px solid #fff;
}

td, th {
  border-bottom: 1px solid #fff;
  background: #efefef;
  padding: 10px;
}

thead tr th,
tfoot tr td {
  height: 0;
  line-height: 0;
  margin: 0;
  padding-top: 0;
  padding-bottom: 0;
  color: transparent;
  border: none;
  white-space: nowrap;
}

thead tr th div,
tfoot tr td div {
  position: absolute;
  color: #fff;
  height: 20px;
  padding: 10px;
  margin-left: -10px;
  line-height: normal;
  width: 100%;
  z-index: 2;
  text-align: left;
  font-weight: bold;
}

thead tr th div {
  border-left: 1px solid #000;
  border-bottom: 1px solid #000;
}

tfoot tr td div {
  border-top: 1px solid #000;
}

tfoot tr td div.c1,
thead tr th div.c1 {
  background: violet;
}

tfoot tr td div.c2,
thead tr th div.c2 {
  background: green;
}

tfoot tr td div.c3,
thead tr th div.c3 {
  background: yellow;
}

thead tr th div {
  top: 0;
}

tfoot tr td div {
  bottom: 0;
}

thead tr th:first-child div,
tfoot tr td:first-child div {
  border-left: none;
}

And this is the markup:

<div class="wrapper">
  <div class="container">
    <table>
      <thead>
        <tr>
          <th>
            Header one *leads the width* (case 1)
            <div class="c1">
              Header one *leads the width* (case 1)
            </div>
          </th>
          <th>
            Header two
            <div class="c2">
              Header two
            </div>
          </th>
          <th>
            Header three
            <div class="c3">
              Header three
            </div>
          </th>
        </tr>
      </thead>
      <tbody>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three [first]</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
          <td>Column one</td>
          <td>Column two *leads the width* (case 2)</td>
          <td>Column three [LATEST]</td>
        </tr>
      </tbody>
      <tfoot>
        <tr>
          <td>
            Footer one
            <div class="c1">
              Footer one
            </div>
          </td>
          <td>
            Footer two
            <div class="c2">Footer two</div>
          </td>
          <td>
            Footer three *leads the width* (case 3)
            <div class="c3">Footer three *leads the width* (case 3)</div>
          </td>
        </tr>
      </tfoot>
    </table>
  </div>
</div>

It works on Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE11 (I don’t know how it behaves on older browsers). See it on codepen: https://codepen.io/daveoncode/pen/LNomBE

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