Supercharging HTML tables with DataTables

Prototype CPRC DataTables interfaceIn the CHSS web team we have been building web interfaces that work with large amounts of data harvested from the University’s research database (PURE). The crucial thing about these interfaces is that they are ‘display’ interfaces – there is no interactivity with the underlying database as such, no ‘writing’ of the data. The emphasis on the interfaces is on displaying the data in a tabular format, allowing text to be searched and for the display of data to be filtered and sorted by particular fields (or columns).

Using standard methods of creating a web interface that communicates with a database using something like Perl DBI or PHP PDO to build a simple display-only interface has quite a few unneccessary overheads in terms of performance and complexity – and it turns out there is a technology that can be used to construct this sort of web interface in a much more simple and lightweight way, using DataTables.

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