[drupal-devel] [feature] Ajax Tablesorting

Bèr Kessels drupal-devel at drupal.org
Sun Sep 4 20:51:35 UTC 2005

Issue status update for 
Post a follow up: 

 Project:      Drupal
 Version:      cvs
 Component:    base system
 Category:     feature requests
 Priority:     normal
 Assigned to:  Steven
 Reported by:  Steven
 Updated by:   Bèr Kessels
 Status:       patch (code needs review)

The clients 'busy' notification not reacting on AJAX is a common
usability issue with AJAX. One of many. the back button not working is
another *mayor* one. All in all, AJAX is still far from mature and even
further from perfect. Still, it serves Drupals usability quite well. 

More about AJAX usability drawbacks here:
http://sourcelabs.com/ajb/archives/2005/05/ajax_mistakes.html and

Bèr Kessels

Previous comments:

Wed, 31 Aug 2005 22:39:36 +0000 : Steven

Attachment: http://drupal.org/files/issues/jstablesort.patch (12.93 KB)

This patch adds Ajax-based tablesorting to tablesort.inc. Note that this
is /not/ client-side sorting, which isn't that useful in Drupal as most
sortable tables are paged. Of course, given that it still requires a
round-trip to the server, the biggest advantage is in visual usability,
as only the table itself changes and not the entire page.

The way this is accomplished will probably strike you as very elegant,
or very dirty ;). In order to avoid patching up every instance of a
sortable table and providing a custom Ajax menu callback for each, I
made it so that inside theme('table'), the tablesort can cause the
table to be printed immediately and PHP to quit. This is triggered by
the GET variable 'tablesort', when set to the table's id.

So, the Ajax HTTP request visits the exact same page as the original
page, it only adds something to the URL which triggers this special

It works really well. In fact, the id-per-table wouldn't be necessary
if we restricted ourselves to one sortable table per page.


Wed, 31 Aug 2005 23:04:38 +0000 : Steven

Attachment: http://drupal.org/files/issues/jstablesort_0.patch (13.25 KB)

Missed a table in statistics.module ;).


Wed, 31 Aug 2005 23:11:35 +0000 : Thox

I haven't tested the patch, only glimpsed through it for now.

The JS-side seems fine. I'm a little curious why tablesortAutoAttach()
does all the hard work, I imagined the tablesort object could do that
for itself.

+1 on the concept.


Wed, 31 Aug 2005 23:28:44 +0000 : Steven

The structure just mimics the existing stuff really (like
autocomplete.js): the autoattach deals with seeking out suitable
targets and installing the event handler. The tablesort object is just
there to provide a persistent data storage for handling the
asynchronous request.

I suppose once we've found a table we could create a tablesort object
and then seek out the relevant links and header cells in there, but I
don't see a problem with doing that in the autoattach either.


Thu, 01 Sep 2005 21:30:59 +0000 : m3avrck

Tried it out on latest HEAD, patch works great!

However, the little 'throbber' graphic... with the browser maximized,
the graphic was hard to notice on a quickly loading page, since the
graphic was so far to the right wasn't easily noticeable what that
little 'flash' thing was. I think it would be more usability to move
this graphic so that is just right of the text being clicked on (where
the up and down arrows are for showing if that is sorted or not). That
would make it much more clear as to what the little grahpic is actually

Otherwise, I say this is ready to commit, and +1 after the throbber
issue is fixed :)


Thu, 01 Sep 2005 21:32:44 +0000 : m3avrck

Just for clarification, where I am clicking with the mouse (on the
actual text to sort the column) I would expect to see a little
'loading' icon there. Right now that little icon is way *toooooo* far
away to make that simple connection :)


Fri, 02 Sep 2005 13:49:05 +0000 : m3avrck

For further clarification and after more testing, this is only a problem
where columns take up much more of the page width, for example on the
logs page and clicking on the 'messages' column. However, playing
around with the CSS more I'm not too sure if there is a suitable fix
for this, so I'll give this patch a +1 and it works great. Degrades
well for users with Javascript disabled.


Sat, 03 Sep 2005 22:49:52 +0000 : Bèr Kessels

I tried this in konqueror 3.4.1 and it works great. I cannot get to test
two tables on one page, for I have no clue where (if! ever!) that

steven. A small suggestion for these kind of JS specific patches: set
up a page solmewhere where people can test its behaviour. The reason I
did not test the JS upload, was because I had no time to set up a
meaningfull drupal site with that patch, only to see if konqueror could
deal with it.
I doubt a lot of people can reasd JS well enough to comment on he code,
but peolpe can then easily visit a page to see if it works with Their
Strange Browser.


Sun, 04 Sep 2005 16:51:18 +0000 : Dries

I tried this patch but I don't see a throbber?  My natural reaction is
to check Firefox's throbber.  Also, I'm not convinced it is a good idea
to trade usability for performance.

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