jQuery - inline editing/ add new row with tablesorter plugin

Monday, 19 January 2009

In this tutorial I go over some cool things that you can do with jQuery and the tablesorter plugin. In particular inline editing while maintaining sort functionality and being able to add a new row while maintaing the ability to inline edit and sort the new row correctly. After we insert a new row we also want to update our zebra striping.

The tablesorter plugin is easy to implement and handles things such as zebra striping and custom parsers with ease. If you haven't had a chance to use it yet I suggest you look at it here and go through some of the documentation and try it out for yourself.

To view a working example take a look here

I start with a file called sorter.php and an array of animals which is the data I will be displaying in my table:

$animals = array(
0 => array(
'name' => 'Cow',
'age' => '4',
'location' => 'Barnyard'

Then I loop through my animals and create the rows for my table as such:

$tablerows = array();

foreach ($animals as $key => $animal) {
$tablerows[] = <<<EOT
<tr class="dataline">
<td class='name'>{$animal['name']}</td>
<td class='age'>{$animal['age']}</td>
<td class='location'>{$animal['location']}</td>
<td><a href="#" class="editlink"><img alt="Edit" style="border: 0px none; margin-left: 5px;" src="images/icons/page_edit.gif"/></a></td>
<td><a href="#" class="removelink"><img alt="Remove" style="border: 0px none; margin-left: 5px;" src="images/icons/bin.gif"/></a></td>
<tr class="editline" style="display:none;">
<td><input type="text" name="editname" value="{$animal['name']}" /></td>
<td><input type="text" name="editage" value="{$animal['age']}" /></td>
<td><input type="text" name="editlocation" value="{$animal['location']}" /></td>
<td colspan="2">
<a href="#" class="savelink">Save</a> | <a href="#" class="cancellink">Cancel</a>

You can see for each animal there are two rows with classes dataline and editline. dataline contains the row as it is seen in the table, editline is hidden and is the row that will be displayed during our inline edit. I displayed the css inline to the editline row as placing it in the css file screws up the zebra stiping for some reason, when I have it inline the same zebra striping class is applied to both the dataline and editline rows which is what we need.

Later we will add a click function to the editlink and cancellink links to toggle our data/edit views using jQuery. Clicking on the savelink link will update our row. Note that for this tutorial I am not connecting to a database or using funky AJAX calls; it should be straightforward looking at the code where this should go and is outside the scope of this tutorial (if you would like suggestions on doing this drop me an email). The remove link also currently just links to a call to the remove() function for simplicity purposes.

Lets have a look at the rest of our sorter.php file:

<div id="content">
<p id="updatemessage"></p>
<button id="addrowbutton" name="addrow">Add row</button>
<table id='mySortable' class='tablesorter'>
<tr id="addrow" style="display:none;"> <!-- Our add new row -->
<td><input type="text" name="addname" value="" /></td>
<td><input type="text" name="addage" value="" /></td>
<td><input type="text" name="addlocation" value="" /></td>
<a href="#" id="saveadd">Save</a> | <a href="#" id="canceladd">Cancel</a>
<?php foreach ($tablerows as $row) { echo $row; } ?>

OK, we have our updatemessage where messages will be displayed whenever an item is added, updated or deleted. We also have a button to add a new row.

The next interesting thing to look at is the <thead> section. You can see that it has two tr's. As commented the second tr is for our addrow functionality. We could just clone a row each time we wanted to add a new row and clear out the fields; I think this is the easier way around, it's stuck inside the thead so it doesn't interfere with the sorting.

Later we will add our save functionality to this which will clone the top row from the table and update the fields accordingly.

I'm not going to over everything in our javascript file but if you would like to view the source look here

Here is the call to the tablesorter plugin:

widgets: ['zebra'],
headers: {
0: {
1: {
2: {
3: { 
sorter: false 
4: {
sorter: false 

You can see here we have attached our "zebra" widget which will place alternating classes on each line of our table. You will see for each column I have specified a sorter. For the Edit and Delete columns I have specified to remove sorting from them. You can also see for the other columns I have specified custom sorters. The purpose for this is because our rows for inline editing interfere with the natural table sorting.

Here is our inline custom parser:

   id: 'inline', 
   is: function(s) { 
   return false; 
format: function(s) { 
   var pattern = 'value=(?:\"?)([^"]*)(?:\"?)\\s';
   matches = s.match(pattern);

if (matches != null) {
   result = matches[1];
} else {
   result = s;
return result; 
type: 'text' 

This uses a regular expression to see if what is passed in is our edit row with something along the lines of: "<input type="text" value="Cow" name="editname"/>". If that is the case it just grabs what is inside value="" and passes that back to use for sorting, if there is no match it just uses the value.

The rest should be pretty straight forward. The only other special thing to note is the last line of the add new line function $("#saveadd").click(function() {
the call $("#mySortable").trigger("applyWidgets", "zebra"); just says to reapply the zebra striping once the new line has been added.

This should cover what is going on, if you have anything specific you would like expained just leave a comment. Take time to have a look at the source including the javascript file here

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