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Displaying Data in WordPress: wpDataTables Plugin

Displaying Data in WordPress: wpDataTables Plugin

Displaying data on the web has a long history.  For anyone familiar with HTML,  the content language of the web, the <table> code tag is an old friend.  Originally intended to display tabular data only, but then cleverly exploited for its ability to build complicated design layouts, it entered the realm of controversy over the last 10 years as a ‘less than ideal’ design layout tool, and in recent years has fully returned to its roots as a data displaying workhorse.  Anyone with a rudimentary background in HTML can use <table> tags to build up a nice looking display of data, but of course it’s a tedious process to create and keeping that data updated manually can be a nightmare.  Furthermore, with large sets of data, users usually will expect to be able to search, sort, filter, and export that data with the click of a few buttons.  Data is best stored in databases or in some cases spreadsheets, both of which can now be easily hosted and accessed in the cloud, but how can you enable your website users to access that data directly on your website and perform all of those important functions that make the data actually usable?  Enter DataTables for WordPress, specifically the wonderfully user friendly and powerful plugin wpDataTables.

Overview

wpDataTables is built on the foundation of the javascript/jQuery based DataTables library, and is easily added to any WordPress installation to turn it into a powerful data and chart displaying and management tool.

Data Sources

Data can easily be synced from the following sources:

  • Excel files
  • CSV files
  • Google Spreadsheets
  • MySQL queries (ie. databases)
  • “Lazy load”
  • Serialized PHP arrays
  • JSON feeds
  • XML feeds

In addition, if it fits your workflow, you can easily create and manage data from WordPress itself using either a database like graphical user interface, or a spreadsheet built into WordPress, complete with searchable and filterable fields.

Column Types

wpDataTables supports the following column types:

  • String
  • Integer
  • Float
  • Date
  • DateTime
  • Time
  • Image
  • URL link
  • E-mail link
  • Currency/price, percentage and other column types
  • Formula (calculated) columns

Features

The full feature list of this plugin is too long to list, but here are some highlights:

  • Full styling and coloring of data and table body
  • Hiding columns
  • Data export in multiple formats (pdf, csv, etc.)
  • Search entire data set or by column
  • Filter/order by column
  • Search by date range
  • Fully responsive styling out of the box
  • Pagination
  • Chart creation
  • Data import
  • More!

Competitors/Cost

There are a few other plugins out there that attempt to do the same thing, but nothing comes close.  Starting at $59 for the plugin and a year of support, this plugin is quite simple a bargain compared to what else is out there, or attempting to build your own tool using the jQuery plugin framework.  There are many WordPress filters and actions if you need to customize the tool further, and in our experience it plays very nicely with many other popular WordPress plugins.

Summary

If you have data that you need to display on your WordPress website such that your site users can find what they need easily through sorting, searching, and filtering, and display/export their results, look no further than wpDataTables.  It’s easy to use for site administrators, and displays attractive and usable data for site users.

If you have a data display/management project for your WordPress website and are interested in learning more, we’d love to chat.

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