Drag and Drop HTML Table Rows Using jQuery

HTML tables are the preferred UI option for displaying data. Sorting, paging and searching/filtering are must-have functionalities for any HTML table with extensive data. These functions make HTML tables more user-friendly and efficient for the end user. In some cases one may require drag and drop functionalities for HTML table rows. Unfortunately, implementing drag and drop for table rows is not available out of the box with jQuery. To implement this, we need to use a jQuery plugin called TableDnD. In this post, we’ll learn how to implement drag and drop HTML rows using jQuery plugin TableDnD.

HTML Markup

To get started, create a standard HTML table on the page. For this demo, our table has 3 columns: Name, Age and Country, along with some random data.

<table id="tblData">
<tr>
<th>Name</th>
<th>Age</th>
<th>Country</th>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>Maria Anders</td>
<td>30</td>
<td>Germany</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>Francisco Chang</td>
<td>24</td>
<td>Mexico</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>Roland Mendel</td>
<td>100</td>
<td>Austria</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>Helen Bennett</td>
<td>28</td>
<td>UK</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>Yoshi Tannamuri</td>
<td>35</td>
<td>Canada</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>Giovanni Rovelli</td>
<td>46</td>
<td>Italy</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>Narendra Sharma</td>
<td>56</td>
<td>India</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>Alex Smith</td>
<td>59</td>
<td>USA</td>
</tr>
</table>

CSS

The following CSS classes are used to style the table and its rows. The myDragClass CSS class styles the row that needs to be dragged and dropped. This style will be applied for the duration of the drag and then removed when the row is dropped.

Continue Reading Below
table {
font-family: arial, sans-serif;
border-collapse: collapse;
width: 100%;
}
td,
th {
border: 1px solid #dddddd;
text-align: left;
padding: 8px;
}
th {background-color: #dddddd;}
.even {background-color: #ecf6fc;}
.odd {background-color: #ddeedd; }
.myDragClass {
  background-color: yellow;
  font-size: 16pt;
}

jQuery Code

As mentioned in the beginning of the post, the TableDnd plugin will be used for implementing this feature. This plugin allows the user to reorder the rows within a table. The great thing about this plugin is that it doesn’t take into account cell count within a row or the row containing form elements. Using this plugin, you can also mark rows as non-draggable and/or non-droppable so that other rows can’t be dropped onto them. Now, let’s look at using this plugin.

The plugin is only dependent on the jQuery library, so download the jQuery library and TableDnd plugin library.  Then include the reference of jQuery and this plugins library. To implement the basic functionality, call tableDnd() function on the table element. Like this:

$(document).ready(function() {
  $("#tblData").find("tr:even").addClass("even");
  $("#tblData").find("tr:odd").addClass("odd");
  $("#tblData").tableDnD();
});

The above code will apply different row styles for odd and even rows, and will also implement drag and drop functionality for the rows. You can check out the demo at the following link.

The above code does the basic job of dragging and dropping the rows. To make it look more attractive, we can also highlight specific rows. Remember, we defined a CSS class named myDragClass. This plugin provides an option to set a CSS class to row during dragging. Use the onDragClass option to set the CSS class. Like this:

$("#tblData").tableDnD({
   onDragClass: "myDragClass"
});

This style will be applied for the duration of the drag and then removed when the row is dropped. You can check out the demo at the following link. Looks great, don’t you think?

However, there is a small UI problem that you may have noticed in both the demos. To make tables look more attractive, we used different background colors for even and odd rows, but when the row is dragged and dropped the color styling is negatively affected. The styles that were previously applied to the rows are moved with the data. Take a look at the image below to understand the problem.

To fix this formatting issue, we need to implement a onDrop event. This event is called when the row is dropped. We can pass a function that will be called when the row is dropped. The function takes 2 parameters: the table and the row that was dropped. So inside the function, we can re-arrange the styling order. Like,

$(document).ready(function() {
  $("#tblData").find("tr:even").addClass("even");
  $("#tblData").find("tr:odd").addClass("odd");
  $("#tblData").tableDnD({
    onDragClass: "myDragClass",
    onDrop: function(table, row) {
      $("#tblData").find("tr").removeClass("even odd");
      $("#tblData").find("tr:even").addClass("even");
      $("#tblData").find("tr:odd").addClass("odd");
    }
  });
});

The above code first removes the CSS classes from the table rows and then reassigns the color styles. One thing to note here is that for the onDrop event to get called you must have IDs assigned to all your table rows. So when generating the HTML table dynamically, make sure you assign the ID attribute to table rows. In case of a static HTML table (like in this case), either you can manually assign an ID to every table row (which can be painful) or you can take advantage of jQuery to assign it via code. Like this:

var iCnt = 1;
  $("#tblData tr").each(function() {
     var id = "tr" + parseInt(iCnt);
     $(this).attr("id", id);
     iCnt++;
  });

The above code loops through table rows and adds ID attribute to each row. So now, everything looks good. Check out the demo at the following link!

If you wish to restrict certain rows to be non-draggable, then you can add a “nodrag” class to that table row and the plugin will take care of the rest. Like this:

<tr class=”nodrag”>

Similarly, if you want to make rows non-droppable so other rows can’t be dropped onto them, add “nodrop” class to that table row and let the plugin do its magic. Like this:

<tr class=”nodrop”>

For the demo, row no. 3 is marked as nodrag and row no. 8 is marked as nodrop. You can also give a different style to them to let user know that these rows have special restrictions. For this demo, non-draggable rows are highlighted with a light blue background while the non-droppable rows are highlighted with a red background.

.nodrag {
  background-color: lightblue;
}
.nodrop {
  background-color: red;
}

You can check out the demo at the following link!

This plugin offers other events and styles to play around with, and also works with hierarchical tables. Please visit the official website to learn more about this plugin.

Conclusion

To sum it up, we’ve just learned how to drag and drop HTML table rows using the TableDnD jQuery plugin. Along with drag and drop implementation, this jQuery plugin offers options to style the way rows are dragged and dropped. Using this plugin, you can also mark individual rows as non-draggable and non-droppable.


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