HTML Table Sorting with JavaScript

Sorting HTML Tables with
Object Oriented JavaScript QuickSort

This tutorial walks through the creation and installation of an object-oriented JavaScript implementation of the QuickSort algorithm. This script is an extendable, unobtrusive, and cross-browser compatible way of enhancing almost any type of tabular data.

Working Demo View on Github



Making tables sortable

1. Download the JavaScript file and upload to your own web server.

2. Include the Javascript file at the bottom of your HTML document

<script src="tsorter.min.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

3. Add JavaScript for each table you want sortable

function init() {
    var sorter = tsorter.create('TABLE-ID');
window.onload = init;

That's it! Seriously, you can upload the files and sort your tables.

Handling Different Data Types

It's common to have numbers, text, links, or even inputs inside table cells. The script can handle sorting a number of built-in data types. Here are the defaults that come with it:

numericFor sorting integers or floats
input-textFor sorting <input> tags by value
linkFor sorting <a> tags by their textContent value

Specify the data type for each column by putting a data-tsorter attribute on each <th> element.

Example <thead> specifying numeric and input data types

        <th>Column 1 - defaults to text comparison</th>
        <th data-tsorter="numeric">Column 2 - Numbers</th>
        <th data-tsorter="input-text">Column 3 - Inputs</th>

Custom Data Types

What if your table has custom HTML inside its <td> tags as in the example? Then we have to teach the script how to access the value we want to sort by. For a quick example consider a 3 column table that has one column whose values are wrapped in <a> tags, and one column that contains <img> elements like so:

Table with a column of links and images

<table id="result_table" class="sortable">
            <th>Column 1</th>
            <th>Column 2 - Image Column with Number</th>
            <td>First Cell Row 1</td>
            <td><img src="images/category1.png"/>120</td>
            <td>First Cell Row 2</td>
            <td><img src="images/category2.png"/>256</td>

First, we add an attribute to the target <th> cell which will tell our script that this column is filled with links.

1. Add the data-tsorter attribute to the <th>

<th data-tsorter="image-number">Column 2 - Image Column with Number</th>

2. Provide Custom Data Accessor Function for the given data type above

tsorter.create('table-id', 0, {
    image-number: function(row){  
        return parseFloat( this.getCell(row).childNodes[1].nodeValue, 10 );

Upload the scripts and refresh your page. If all has gone well you can now sort your custom data.

How about multiple tables on the same page?

Sometimes you have two data tables on the same page. Luckily things scale well. Here is the JavaScript required to make two tables sortable.

Making multiple tables sortable

function init()
    var sorter1 = tsorter.create('TARGET_TABLE_ID');
    var sorter2 = tsorter.create('SECOND_TARGET_TABLE_ID');
window.onload = init;