Using the Tabulator javascript library to prettify tables

There are more than a few different libraries out there which can be used to pretty up HTML tables in various different ways. One that I've recently spotted is Tabulator. In order to have a play around with it, I spun up an ASP.NET Core Empty project by running these commands:

md Tabulator
cd Tabulator
dotnet new sln
md TabulatorWeb
cd TabulatorWeb
dotnet new web
dotnet sln add .\TabulatorWeb

Then, just for good measure start Tabulator.sln from the command line to spin up Visual Studio 2017 with the project loaded and ready to go.

Adding Tabulator to the project

The easiest way to do this is to right-click on the wwwroot node and choose Client-Side Library... from the Add sub-menu. This brings up Microsoft Library Manager from where we can add tabulator by filling in the Library field and selecting the result that comes back:

Using Microsoft Library Manager to add Tabulator to my project

I'm going to opt for including all library files and opting for the default location. Nothing complicated is needed for a quick poke it with a stick and see what happens project. Clicking the Install button means that Visual Studio will retrieve the library, install it and update the libman.json references file for the project. The process of restoring the library can be watched in the Output window:

Visual Studio installing Tabulator via Library Manager

With the library added, I'm going to go ahead and add an index.html file along with updating the project to return static files instead of "Hello World!" (along with default files) for every request:

public void Configure(IApplicationBuilder app, IHostingEnvironment env)
    if (env.IsDevelopment())


A quick spin up by hitting F5 confirms that everything's working as expected:

The test page for Tabulator, just to show it's all working

Using Tabulator

I'm going to start off by enhancing a static table, as that's something I've used in a couple of other places where the data is generated server-side and just needs to be made more flexible for the end-user. So, a simple table with a couple of items:

<table id="itemsWithPrices">

Looking at the test page now, it's pretty dull:

The table before Tabulator gets its hands on it

But by adding a couple of things:

  1. A script tag to tabulator/js/tabulator.js
  2. A reference to the tabulator/css/tabulator_site.css stylesheet
  3. And a script block that kicks tabulator into life:
<script type="text/javascript">
    var table = new Tabulator("#itemsWithPrices", {});

The table then looks like this, much better:

Now with 100% extra Tabulator

The great thing about this is, without even thinking about configuring Tabulator I've immediately gained some pretty nice styling along with the ability to sort the table by any of the columns that are present.

I'm going to tweak the configuration a little bit though, to see what Tabulator can do - starting by customising the way the columns are presented:

var table = new Tabulator("#itemsWithPrices",
        columns: [
            { title: "Id" },
            { title: "Description" },
            { title: "Price", align: "right" }

This means that when the price of a Sprocket has shot up to 14.84, the numbers are nicely aligned:

Tabulator having formatted the price column

As a starting point, that's not too bad, but I'm going to add a couple more columns to show some of the other bits that Tabulator can do, so with a new In Stock column and a Sold column. With those columns I'm going to turn the text of the row red if the difference between In Stock and Sold is less than 5 (i.e. if we need to order some more soon) by using a row formatter. The row formatter looks like this:

function formatRow(row)
    var data = row.getData();
    var element = row.getElement();
    var remaining = data.in_stock - data.sold;

    if (remaining < 5)

And the change to the configuration of the table looks like this:

var table = new Tabulator("#itemsWithPrices",
        columns: [
            { title: "Id" },
            { title: "Description" },
            { title: "Price", align: "right" }
        rowFormatter: formatRow

Not much change, and there's nothing that exciting in the row formatter (other than the fact that I've pulled in jQuery to let it do the heavy lifting of making the styling changes for me). This then makes the row go red when it needs to:

Using a RowFormatter with Tabulator to tweak the resultant table

I've barely scratched the surface of what it's possible to do with Tabulator, and it's definitely now made its way into my toolbox as there's at least one project that I'm pretty sure it's going to get used for in the new year!

About Rob

I've been interested in computing since the day my Dad purchased his first business PC (an Amstrad PC 1640 for anyone interested) which introduced me to MS-DOS batch programming and BASIC.

My skillset has matured somewhat since then, which you'll probably see from the posts here. You can read a bit more about me on the about page of the site, or check out some of the other posts on my areas of interest.

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