Need a way to display data, tables, or charts on your WordPress site?
wpDataTables is the best-selling table and charts plugin at CodeCanyon, where it’s racked up 19,000+ sales and maintained a 4.67-star rating.
Though the plugin was originally launched back in 2013, it received a complete makeover with wpDataTables 2.0. Beyond new functionality, it also got a brand new interface that really is a joy to use.
In my wpDataTables review, I’ll take you through this latest release and show you what all it can do.
wpDataTables Review: A Quick Look At The Features
First off, all the tables and charts that you create with wpDataTables are responsive. I know – “responsive” isn’t really something sexy in 2018. But you’d be surprised by the number of table plugins that don’t handle responsive design well, so that’s actually a pretty big benefit. You’re able to set up your own custom breakpoints and hide specific columns on tablets/mobile devices.
Another thing you’ll like about wpDataTables is how many ways it gives you to create tables and/or import content. You can:
- Create tables from scratch
- Link a table to an external source, like Excel, Google Sheets, JSON, SQL query, PHP array, etc. The data will update as you change the source file.
- Import from an external source, like Excel or Google Sheets. Unlike the previous one, this is a one-time import. The data does not sync.
- Use a database query builder to add WordPress content to your table, like posts, taxonomies, postmeta, etc.
- Use a MySQL query to pull data from your own external database.
While I’m not sure how to test it, wpDataTables claims that it’s able to handle large tables, even into the millions of rows.
To edit your table data, you can either use an Excel-like editor where you just click and type into fields. Or, you can use a “standard” editor that lets you edit entire rows in a popup.
You get tons of settings for controlling how your tables look and function, including:
- Conditional formatting
- Front-end table editing
- Sort options
- Filter functionality (including a dedicated widget)
- Search option
- Front-end options to export tables to Excel or CSV
- Front-end options to print a table
And oh yeah, wpDataTables isn’t just for tables! You can also use it to turn any one of your tables into a great-looking chart.
If you want to see the tables and charts in action, you can check out some demos here.
Hands-on With wpDataTables: 7 Things That You’ll Like
Ok, now let’s go hands-on with wpDataTables and I’ll show you how those features actually work.
1. Table Constructor Wizard
To help you create your tables, wpDataTables gives you a well-designed Table Constructor Wizard.
First, you’ll choose where you want to get your table data from. You can see the 5 options that I mentioned above:
I chose to Import from a data source. In my case, that’s a published Google Sheets table.
For this method, you just paste in the URL:
wpDataTables then gives you a summary of the columns that it found. If desired, you can change the data type of each column (for example, you could make a column a number or a date):
Once you’re happy with how things look, you tell wpDataTables to import the table and it will bring in all the data.
2. Two Different Table Editors, Including Excel-Like Editor
To work with table data in your WordPress dashboard, wpDataTables gives you two different editors:
- Excel-like editor – this is what it sounds like. You can edit data in your browser just like you would type in Excel cells.
- Standard editor – you can’t just click and type in cells. Instead, you’ll work in popups for each row.
Here’s how the Excel-like editor works:
For non-text fields, you’ll get other selectors. For example, you can open a date picker for columns with the date data type:
And here’s how it works to use the standard editor:
The Excel-like editor is helpful when you’re actually working with data. But the benefit of the Standard editor is that it makes it easy to access the detailed column controls. Speaking of…
3. Detailed Column Settings
In the Standard editor, you can access detailed settings for each column that let you control things like:
- Data types
- Custom CSS classes
- Whether to allow sorting
- Whether to allow filtering. If so, how to use the filtering
- Conditional formatting. For example, you can add a custom CSS class based on the cell’s data (it’s indeed a lot like conditional formatting in Excel or Google Sheets)
4. Detailed Overall Table Settings
Above the table data, you get a collection of overall settings for your table.
Here, you can control:
- Table-wide settings for filters, sorting, and search.
- Front-end editing – whether or not people can edit the table from the front-end.
- Table tools – these let users print your table or export it to Excel/CSV.
And this is also where you can turn on responsive mode:
When you turn responsive mode on, you get new column settings that let you hide individual columns on mobile or tablet devices:
5. Create Chart From Table
Beyond the table functionality, wpDataTables also includes pretty powerful chart functionality that lets you turn any one of your tables into various types of charts powered by a few different chart engines.
When you go to create a chart, you’ll first choose which render engine to use. Your options are:
- Google Charts
Then, you can choose what type of chart to create from the types supported by your chosen render engine:
Once you select the chart type, you can choose one of your existing tables to act as the data source for your chart:
Then, you can choose exactly what data in that table to use.
For example, you could pick out just two or three specific columns.
You can also enter a range for which rows to include and choose whether to follow the table filtering options (this is cool because the chart will actually re-render itself if one of your visitors changes their filter options on the front-end of your site):
Once you select what data to use, wpDataTables will give you a live preview of your chart, as well as options to control:
- Responsive chart width
- Some other smaller settings
Once you’re happy with your settings, wpDataTables spits out a shortcode that you can use anywhere on your site.
6. Dedicated Filter Widget
If you don’t want to include filter options above the table, wpDataTables also comes with its own dedicated filter widget that you can place in any widget area.
When you add the widget, it will include filter controls for the active table:
7. Lots Of Global Settings
Beyond the table/chart-specific settings, wpDataTables also gives you tons of options in the wpDataTables → Settings area. Here, you can configure things like:
- Whether or not to parse shortcodes in tables
- Responsive breakpoints
- Separate database connections
A Quick Look At The Other Methods For Importing Chart Data
Above, I showed you how to import data from a Google Sheets table. But one of the great things about wpDataTables is how flexible it is when it comes to importing data.
So before I finish out this wpDataTables review, let me take you through the other ways that you can get data into your tables.
The query builder lets you query:
- Data from your WordPress site’s database (posts, taxonomies, etc.)
- Any data from an external MySQL database
If you choose your WordPress site’s database, wpDataTables gives you this really helpful query builder where you can go through your various post types and create a targeted filter:
Similarly, wpDataTables can help you generate queries to an external database using the same visual interface.
Sync With An External Source
Another neat option is to sync with an external source. With this method, the plugin will automatically update the table for each page reload (or each time the cache is cleared if you’re using a caching plugin).
Here, you can choose from a range of sources:
- SQL query
- CSV file
- Excel file
- Google Spreadsheet
- XML file
- JSON file
- Serialized PHP array
Manual Table Creation
Finally, you can always create a table from scratch. When you go that route, you’ll first set up the columns to use as well as their associated data types:
Then, you can enter your data using either the Excel-like editor or the standard editor.
wpDataTables Pricing: Limited Free Version Or $45
There is a limited version of wpDataTables at WordPress.org. With that being said, I haven’t made any mention of that version because it is indeed limited. Just a few things that you’re missing are:
- Responsive mode
- Excel-like editing and front-end editing
- Table Constructor Wizard
And oh yeah, it’s also limited to 150 rows.
For that reason, I wouldn’t really recommend the free version.
It’s a different story with the Pro version, though. You get a lot more functionality for just $45, which I think is quite fair.
Final Thoughts On wpDataTables
After having used a lot of the WordPress table plugins, I feel pretty confident in saying that wpDataTables is definitely one of the best solutions out there.
It’s flexible in how you import your table data. And the interface makes what could be a complicated process surprisingly simple.
Beyond that, it’s easy to edit your tables thanks to the two different editors. And you have plenty of control over your entire tables or individual columns across the various settings areas.
Finally, being able to create charts from the same plugin is handy and the charts functionality is really easy to use.
If you’re willing to pay for the Pro version, this is definitely one that you should consider. And if you want to see some other options for working with tables in WordPress, check out our TablePress tutorial.