Do you need to display data from a range of sources on your website in a more visual format? If so, the wpDataTables plugin could be just the tool to help you.
Whether you want to display your data in an interactive table or as mobile responsive charts and graphs, wpDataTables has the features to make this task straightforward. The plugin lets you choose from a range of data sources and then display that data as a chart or table. The data sources you can make use of includes uploaded files in a range of formats and data extracted from database tables via a selection of queries types.
With wpDataTables, you can also create tables and populate them with data, through the WordPress admin interface. These tables can then be used as the data source for your charts and interactive tables. Any tables and charts created with this plugin are all generated dynamically each time the post or pages loads, ensuring they are always up to date and showing the latest data.
If this sounds like something you could make use of on your WordPress website, read on for our hands-on review of the wpDataTables plugin.
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Features of wpDataTables
wpDataTables is a plugin that’s been available for a while now. However, it’s been recently updated and now includes even more features and tools than ever before. So let’s take a look at what you can do with this plugin to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your project.
Chart Rendering Capabilities
With the latest release of wpDataTables, the chart functionality has been significantly upgraded to make charts as important a component of the plugin as tables were in previous versions. This means you now get access to two chart rendering engines in order to give you more flexibility when generating charts for your site. These two engines are Google Charts and Highcharts although you will need a Highcharts license to make use of this service.
Thanks to this, there are now 24 chart types to choose from when creating a graphical representation of your data. Creating charts now takes place through the chart creation wizard, making the whole process even easier than ever before.
Improved Table Creator and Wizard
Now with wpDataTables you get more freedom when it comes to adding interactive tables to your website. With the Table Constructor tool, you can either enter the data for your table yourself through the WordPress admin interface or upload a source file in Excel or CSV format. You can also create a table based on your WordPress website data, such as the number of posts, pages, and other elements of your site.
Using your WordPress database as the source of your graph or table would be great if you wanted to measure the amount of content on your site or display how productive you’ve been. As in previous versions of the plugin, you still have the option of building a table based on data from an existing MySQL database table.
This all means that you now have more options for creating tables and charts on your site, whether you want to use an existing data source or simply enter the data yourself. Whichever option you choose, the handy table constructor wizard will walk you through the process from start to finish.
Publish Interactive Tables
Depending on how you configure your tables, you can make them interactive in a number of ways. This includes displaying filter fields that allow your visitors to type in data to filter a column based on its contents. This makes it very easy for your visitors to find the information they are looking for when viewing your data.
Your visitors can search the whole table to find what they are looking for and you also have the option of making your columns sortable. If you want to give your visitors the ability to print or export your data in a range of formats, that’s not a problem either and the handy icons that are displayed make it easy for your visitors to carry out this task.
Again, depending on the type of table you’ve created and the source of the data, you may be able to edit the table data directly through the backend of your WordPress website via the admin dashboard. This is a recently added feature and the editable tables now give you more control over which data is displayed on your site, rather than being fully reliant on what is provided by your data source.
Publish Responsive Tables and Graphs
Whether you want to display your data in a table or graph and chart format, the graphical representations of your data will not only look great on small screen devices, but they will feature interactive elements to provide more information to your visitors.
Simply by moving the cursor over the charts, your visitors can view additional data. This is all controlled by you and each chart can include supplementary information such as the precise numbers from the data source.
When it comes to creating your tables and charts, the process all takes places through a graphical user interface on the dashboard area of your WordPress website.
Visual Composer Integration
If you are using Visual Composer, perhaps the most popular drag and drop page builder tool for WordPress, you’ll be pleased to hear that any tables or graphs you create with wpDataTables can be inserted into your posts and pages using this drag and drop editor. They’ll soon be a wpDataTables add-ons for Visual Composer, giving you more control over how your tables and graphs are displayed on your site.
As you can see wpDataTables is packed with features, making it one of the most comprehensive tools for WordPress users who want to publish tables and charts on their website.
wpDataTables is an advanced plugin. While it’s easy to get started with and begin creating your charts and tables with, if you really want to get the most out of this tool it’s well worth exploring the online documentation and support material.
As well as the more traditional online documentation, there is a video course available, which will walk you through the features of this plugin.
wpDataTables User Experience
Thanks to the addition of the improved table creator, building your tables and charts is very straightforward. Once you’ve determined what data you want to show and in what format, you can use the wpDataTables table constructor or the chart wizard tool to get started.
If you do want to create an interactive table for your site, opening the table constructor makes it easy to get started. If you’ve chosen to input the data yourself, rather than using a file or database table as the data source, you can get started by simply creating the table columns.
Each column requires its own title and data type before you can begin adding your data to it. This step takes place through the manual editor. This allows you to manually enter the data for your table, all through the back end interface of your WordPress website.
To keep things simple, entering the data takes place through a form displayed in modal overlay lightbox window.
Once you’ve added a few rows to your table, you can then review its contents and make any necessary changes.
If you want to see how it will look to your visitors, the table can be easily inserted into a post or page for a quick preview. This is achieved by using the corresponding shortcode of the table you want to insert.
You also have the option of delving into the table settings. This allows you to edit the table title and configure how the table will be displayed in a number of other ways.
These table settings cover options such as making the table responsive for mobile devices and smaller screens, enabling the user filtering tools and sorting capabilities, and whether to enable word wrap for your table cells or not.
There is a handy table preview feature available at all times, allowing you to experience what effect your settings will have on the table.
Once you are ready, you can publish your table by inserting the corresponding shortcode into a post or page and hitting the publish button. Depend on how you’ve configured the table, your visitors can either simply view the data or interact with it by searching, filtering, sorting, and printing and exporting.
When it comes to creating a graph or chart, the process is similar to that of building a table. After starting the Chart Wizard, you can give your new chart a name and choose a rendering engine from the available options. After making a selection, you can choose the type of chart you wish to create.
Once you’ve selected a chart type, you can then choose your data source. This data source must be a table you’ve already created with the plugin. The source for that previously created data table could be data you’ve entered yourself, data from an input file, data from your WordPress database, or from a separate database table you’ve created yourself.
In the next step, you can select which columns and rows from that table will be included in the graph, before setting the width, height, labels, and colours of the graph.
Finally, you can preview the graph and if all looks well, save it and get the shortcode for inserting it into your posts and pages.
As the tables and charts are generated dynamically each time the post or page is loaded, you can go back and add more data to the data source and the next time the page containing the chart or table is visited, it will show the new representation of the data.
Final Thoughts on wpDataTables
If you want to add tables and charts to your WordPress website then you can’t really go wrong with wpDataTables. Being able to choose from a range of data sources makes this a flexible tool and when combined with the range of table and chart options, you get a lot of control over how your data can be presented to your visitors.
With a regular license available for just $29, including six months of professional support, if you are serious about publishing tables and charts on your WordPress website, this is an investment worth making.
What type of tables or charts do you want to display on your website? Which data sources will you be making use of? Please let us know in the comments below.