Turning an Org Mode outline into an HTML table with a column for more notes

| emacs, org

The last time A- had a babysitter, I quickly scribbled down some ideas for activities that A- might enjoy. The babysitter found the list very helpful, so I figured I’d make a list that I could easily update as A-‘s interests change. I wanted a two-column table with space for notes, but I didn’t want to fiddle with LibreOffice or manually writing HTML. Org Mode to the rescue! To turn something like this:

* Activity ideas  :noexport:
** Gross motor
*** Balance on one leg
*** Coast on the balance bike
** Fine motor
*** Cut along a curve or shape

into a table like this:

Two-column table

I wrote this bit of code inside a #+begin_src emacs-lisp :exports results :results value html#+end_src block:

(let* ((elements (org-element-parse-buffer))
          "Activity ideas"
          `(:parse-tree ,elements)))))
   "<table><tr><th width=\"50%%\">Activity ideas</th><th width=\"50%%\">Notes</th></tr>%s</table>"
    (lambda (section)
      (format "<tr><td><h2>%s</h2><ul>%s</ul></td><td></td></tr>"
              (org-element-property :raw-value section)
              (mapconcat (lambda (idea)
                           (format "<li>%s</li>"
                                   (org-element-property :raw-value idea)))
                         (org-element-contents section)
    (org-element-contents activity-ideas)

I can then export the buffer to HTML and get my nice neat table by itself, since the data comes from a subtree with the :noexport: tag. The code parses the elements in the buffer, looks at the children under the “Activity ideas” header, turns each child into a table row, and turns the children of those nodes into list items.

The code coincidentally takes advantage of the org-export-resolve-link I wrote to help someone with an Org feature request. Yay for multipurpose code!

For the next step, I’ll probably put TODO state filtering in so that I can keep a long list of activities and then select a few for each category. It’s nice to have an outline I can easily update!

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