Tables make it easy for you to do everything from displaying tons of data in a usable way to creating conversion-boosting product comparison tables and more. And when it comes to tables, wpDataTables is one of the most popular WordPress table plugins.
wpDataTables is actually no stranger to WPLift. Joe reviewed a previous version of wpDataTables, and we’ve also given away a few copies in the past. Here’s why we’re back with a new post, though:
wpDataTables version 2.0 just dropped. And with it comes a complete redesign of the entire backend interface, as well as new features, performance improvements, more modern front-end styling, and other additions.
For that reason, I’m going to take a fresh look at the newest version in this wpDataTables review. In general, I’m a huge fan of the changes. Creating tables is much simpler thanks to the improved backend interface, but you still have just as much power when it comes to showcasing and manipulating your data.
Let’s dig in!
wpDataTables Review: The Feature List
Before I get to the hands-on section, let me give you a quick refresher on the main things wpDataTables can do for you:
- Create tables from Excel, Google Sheets, CSV, MySQL queries, JSON, XML, and more
- Edit tables directly in an in-dashboard “Excel-like” editor
- 100% responsive tables
- Allow filtering, sorting, and pagination on the front-end
- Choose filter/sort options for each individual column (if desired)
- Built to scale - can handle millions of table entries if needed
- Helpful front-end features that allow readers to print, save to PDF/CSV, and more
And if you’re specifically interested in what’s new in wpDataTables 2.0, here are some of the highlights.
- Complete backend interface change - the new interface is a major improvement
- Improved front-end style design - gives the various front-end elements a more modern look
- Backend improvements with regards to MySQL handling and foreign key support
- Better conditional formatting
- More functions for fields
- More settings in a few different places
Rather than blathering on, let me just show you how the new version looks and functions!
Hands-on With wpDataTables: Creating a Table
Alright, here’s the part where I actually dig into wpDataTables and show you how it all works.
When you first go to Create a Table, you’ll see this handy wizard that lets you select the source for your table. This wizard is part of the complete redesign and sports a much more modern, streamlined design:
Basically, your options are:
- Import data from an external source - either by linking it (to sync) or running a one-time import
- Create a table manually from scratch
- Create a table from a database query - either the WordPress database or an external MySQL database
I’ll create a table manually for this review, but it’s by no means the only way.
On the next screen, you can configure the columns you’ll use for your table, as well as what type of data each column features.
For example, let’s create a simple product comparison table for page builder plugins. It could look something like this:
Notice how I was able to select different Types for each column? This is a super helpful feature. I can even make a binary selectbox choice between Yes and No for the Free version? Column.
These Types, along with per-column settings, give you tons of control over your table.
Once you finish setting up your table, you can click the Create The Table button to open the table as either the Standard Editor or Excel-like Editor. You can always quickly switch between the two editing modes as needed.
A Look At The Two Editing Modes
Generally, I think the Standard Editor is a nice experience for entering small amounts of data, while the Excel-like Editor is better for serious data entry or editing a single cell.
Here’s what the Standard Editor looks like:
And here’s what the Excel-like Editor looks like:
While it doesn’t look quite as slick, the Excel-like Editor lets you type directly in the fields, which is why I think it’s nice for entering tons of data or changing a single table cell.
Generally, though, I prefer the Standard Editor for light use.
Here’s what the Standard Editor looks like after adding some data to the table:
And if I add that table to my site right now (via shortcode), it would look like this:
By default, your visitors can search and sort every single column. And you’ll also see pagination and the advanced tools options.
Here’s how you can change those things.
Configuring Your Table’s Functionality
wpDataTables gives you two ways to configure your tables.
First, you can configure global settings for the table at the top of the page:
Here’s where you can do things like:
- Globally enable filters/sorting
- Add a more advanced Filter form above the table (super helpful for some uses)
- Configure various display settings
- Allow front-end editing
- Turn the table tools on or off
Then, you have the Gear icon next to each column in your table.
If you click it, you’ll see a slide-out that lets you configure settings for that specific column. For example, it doesn’t make any sense to let visitors filter the Summary column from my example, so I could pop in and quickly turn off sorting for just that column:
In these settings, you can also:
- Configure individual column display settings
- Add conditional filtering
- Disable or configure filtering options. You can even choose different filter types depending on the information in the column
- Other smaller settings
Adding Conditional Formatting to Columns
If you’ve ever used Excel, you’re probably familiar with the concept of conditional formatting.
In addition to letting you set basic color changes, wpDataTables takes this concept further and also lets you add or remove CSS classes to the cell, row, or column:
Again, this opens up some really neat possibilities.
Building a Chart Based On Your Table
Outside of tables, wpDataTables also lets you create charts based on your tables using a variety of different render engines.
While the example table that I created above doesn’t really lend itself to creating a chart, let me give you a quick look at the process anyway.
First, you give your chart a name and select which engine you want to use to render your chart, as well as the chart type that you want to create:
Then, you choose one of your existing tables to base the chart on:
From there, you can choose which columns to use:
And then you can preview your chart, as well as change settings for styling and labeling:
I’ve used a few different chart plugins at this point and feel confident in saying that wpDataTables definitely has one of the best solutions to create charts with WordPress.
How Much Does wpDataTables Cost?
wpDataTables costs $44, which I think is more than fair for the plugin.
Yes, TablePress is free. But as much as I do like TablePress and think it’s a great plugin, this new iteration from wpDataTables is a nicer experience. Basically, you get what you pay for.
wpDataTables has a nicer interface and is more flexible when it comes to filtering and sorting options, especially on a per-column basis. Plus, wpDataTables also lets you quickly create charts based on your tables.
So if you’re going to be heavily relying on tables and charts, spending money is worth it.
Final Thoughts on wpDataTables
wpDataTables is the best table and chart plugin that I’ve used. The fact that it has over 12,000 sales at Code Canyon and has maintained a 4.63-star rating indicates that I’m not the only person who feels that way.
The new interface is a major upgrade (go back and look at Joe’s screenshots to compare). I also love how flexible the filtering and sorting options are.
If you need a table plugin for your WordPress site, you should definitely consider it.