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Sortable Table

Sort HTML tables in your Rails app.


script/plugin install git://

In app/controllers/application_controller.rb:

class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base include SortableTable::App::Controllers::ApplicationController end

In app/helpers/application_helper.rb:

module ApplicationHelper include SortableTable::App::Helpers::ApplicationHelper end


  context "enough Users to sort" do
    setup do 
      5.times { Factory :user }

    should_sort_by_attributes :name, :email, :age, :group => ""

    context "GET to #index" do
      setup { get :index }

      should_display_sortable_table_header_for :name, :email, :age, :group

This is the common case for a RESTful UsersController.

  • should_sort_by_attributes tests that the controller’s index action can sort by the attributes.
  • should_display_sortable_header_for tests that a sortable header displays for the attributes.


  class UsersController < Admin::BaseController
    sortable_attributes :name, :email, :age, :group => ""

    def index
      @users = User.paginate :page => params[:page], :order => sort_order

sortable_attributes defines a sort_order method that gets called in your action.

If the index action is rendered without a params[:sort] option, @users will be sorted by :name, the first option in the list of sortable_attributes.


      <%= sortable_table_header :name => "Name",  :sort => "name" %>
      <%= sortable_table_header :name => "Email", :sort => "email" %>
      <%= sortable_table_header :name => "Age",   :sort => "age" %>
      <%= sortable_table_header :name => "Group", :sort => "group" %>
    <% @users.each do |user| %>
        <td><%= html_escape( %></td>
        <td><%= html_escape( %></td>
        <td><%= html_escape(user.age) %></td>
        <td><%= html_escape( %></td>
    <% end %>

sortable_table_header creates a table header containing a link with the correct :sort and :order params. It also has a class of “ascending” or “descending” so you can add styles with arrows. You can add your own styles as well.

Example styles

th.ascending a {
background: url(/images/sort-ascending-arrow.gif) 0% 50% no-repeat;
padding-left: 15px;

th.descending a {
background: url(/images/sort-descending-arrow.gif) 0% 50% no-repeat;
padding-left: 15px;

Overriding defaults


Opinionated defaults:

  • GET to :index
  • collection same name as controller (@users for UsersController)
  • model name same name as controller (User for UsersController

If you need to test another action (or a nested controller), pass a block:

should_sort_by_attributes :age do |sort, order| get :show, :sort => sort, :order => order, :group_id => end

If you need to test another collection or model name, use should_sort_by.


The :collection, :model_name, and :action options of should_sort_by.

context “with a non-standard collection name” do action = lambda { |sort, order| get :members, :sort => sort, :order => order } should_sort_by :name, { :collection => “members”, :model_name => “user”, :action => action } do |user| end end


The default sort order is descending. This applies to the first time you click on a table header. You can override this to be ascending:

def index @users = User.find :all, :order => sort_order(“ascending”) end


Dan Croak, Joe Ferris, Jason Morrison and Boston.rb.

Copyright © 2008 Dan Croak, released under the MIT license