TablePress: The New Best WordPress Table Plugin?

TablePress WordPress Table Plugin

I have been a fan of WP-Table Reloaded for a long time. For over a year it has served me very well by allowing me to easily create complex tables from within WordPress. It comes loaded with a glut of great features such as simple importing and live table sorting/search functionality.

The feature set is impressive and the plugin is completely free and available for download from WordPress.org. Having said that, I’ve always kept my eyes open for a better WordPress table plugin, because in my opinion plugins often thrive when placed within a competitive environment.

With 2012 drawing to a close I can finally say that I have found a plugin that not only matches WP-Table Reloaded but in fact surpasses it in terms of features, performance and usability. And it comes from a rather unlikely source…

Introducing TablePress

TablePress

TablePress is in fact the direct successor to WP-Table Reloaded. Developed by the same chap, Tobias Bäthge, it is currently in advanced beta stage and available for anyone to use on their WordPress blog.

I was rather curious as to what some might simply consider a new version of an existing plugin would need an entirely new name, so I set out to interview the developer. Here’s what he had to say!

First, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Tobias BäthgeMy name is Tobias Bäthge and I’m from Magdeburg, Germany. After majoring in Engineering Cybernetics at the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, I’m currently pursuing a PhD degree in the field of control theory there.

I’m an avid baseball fan (I play catcher for our local team, called Magdeburg Poor Pigs) and I keep my fingers crossed for the Seattle Mariners.

How did you first learn about WordPress and what got you into plugin development?

I’ve always been interested in mathematics. I started programming small math tools at the age of 12 or 13, in Turbo Pascal for MS DOS, and then Delphi on Windows.

After we got an internet connection at home, I wanted to offer my tools for download on a personal website, so I started with HTML and then PHP soon after. This worked quite well for some time, but when I started with university, I wanted something more advanced.

That’s when I found WordPress and when WP 2.0 came out I used it to turn my static website into a blog. I liked it so much that I used it to rebuild my baseball team’s website. As such a website needs special things, and as I already knew some PHP, I got more interested in WordPress development.

What inspired you to develop WP-Table Reloaded?

One of the things that we needed on the baseball website were tables — for player rosters, standings, schedules, and so on. As I wanted other people (without knowledge of PHP) to be able to work on these tables, just using HTML code for tables in a page was not an option.

I looked for a WordPress plugin and found “wp-Table” by Alex Rabe. It worked quite well in the beginning but we soon ran into limitations. When Alex announced that he wasn’t able to continue supporting his plugin, I decided to give it a go and write a table plugin. And with that, WP-Table Reloaded was born and quickly became surprisingly popular.

Why have you decided to create a completely new plugin that intends to replace WP-Table Reloaded?

Just as with the limitations that I had run into in the original wp-Table plugin, there are now several things in WP-Table Reloaded that are making further development difficult, or that are just no longer state of the art. With the knowledge and experience that I gained while developing and supporting WP-Table Reloaded, I now know that there are better ways or technologies for essential parts of the plugin.

A Table Created With TablePress

A table created with TablePress.

For example, the internal data format and storing location that WP-Table Reloaded uses has been superseded by better ones. Thus, I decided to completely rewrite it with the goal to use modern programming principles and techniques. This also allowed me to throw away some cruft in the code base, and as I had integrated many enhancements and new features, I felt that a new name for the plugin was appropriate.

What makes TablePress the best tables plugin for WordPress?

That’s a good question, and I feel that I’m not really the best person to answer that, as I’m probably biased a little bit :-)

Many people — for example in the plugin reviews and in the WP support forums — like that TablePress integrates so nicely into their known WordPress environment, and that it is very easy to use without a lot of training. One reason for that might be the import feature, which helps to get great results very quickly. Still, everything is designed to be flexible, if customization is desired.

The Simple Import Feature

The simple import feature.

Should people who have used WP-Table Reloaded switch to TablePress, and if so, why?

Definitely, but there’s no need to panic! As mentioned before, TablePress is not just a complete re-write of WP-Table Reloaded. Additional to all of the WP-Table Reloaded features, it brings many enhancements (visible and under the hood for better performance), as well as (in my opinion) awesome new features: a fresh and modern default design for tables, a table “Edit” screen that is much easier to use, Bulk Import and Export of tables, and, as a highlight, spreadsheet functionality (i.e. support for formulas and math expressions, similar to Excel).

With the release of TablePress 1.0 (probably in January — I just want to add/finish a few more minor things), development and support for WP-Table Reloaded will be phased out and eventually discontinued. The plugin will of course continue to work but it will not get any new features and only important bug fix updates, if necessary.

WP-Table Reloaded should no longer be installed on new sites. Instead, I recommend to directly start using TablePress on new sites. Sites that are already using WP-Table Reloaded should migrate to TablePress in the next few months in order to benefit from better performance and more and new features.

If people do choose to switch, can they expect a smooth process?

I’m trying my best to make sure that switching from WP-Table Reloaded is as safe and easy as possible.

TablePress can import existing tables and settings from WP-Table Reloaded in just a few clicks, and if a site doesn’t use customizations (like big chunks of “Custom CSS” code, or “WP-Table Reloaded Extensions” from the plugin’s website) this is a matter of seconds.

For more information and instructions, there’s a migration guide available on the TablePress website here and I’ll be around in the TablePress support forums.

Are you working on anything else that we should know about?

Besides WP-Table Reloaded and TablePress I’m sometimes active with WP core development — like double checking commits or submitting patches for small issues or enhancements. I also try to monitor my plugin’s support forums closely as I always learn a lot from that and get to know great people.

It’s Time to Switch!

Thanks to Tobias for taking the time to answer my questions — further to his comments and having tested TablePress, making the switch seems to me to be a no-brainer. The plugin seems nice and stable and there is no doubting its improved feature set. Not only that but WP-Table Reloaded will become obsolete before long, so it makes sense for new adopters to go straight to TablePress.

For those of us who are existing WP-Table Reloaded users, it seems like there is no great urgency for us to switch. Having said that, I would recommend that you port over to the new plugin sooner rather than later, to take advantage of TablePress’ great new features and increased efficiencies if nothing else.

Are you an existing WP-Table Reloaded user and if so do you plan on making the switch soon? Or do you use and prefer an alternative table plugin for WordPress? Let us know in the comments section!

Download TablePress from WordPress.org here.

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31 Comments

  1. BP says:

    I have serious issues with the Search function and was wondering whether anyone else has experienced this. My table has almost 1000 rows, so paging through it is not practical. The search results are never correct.

  2. Lenny says:

    I'm looking for a plug-in that allows me to place media files, like pictures, in a "non-standard" ways – say for example a picture surounded by text on both sides. Do some of you know any good plug-in for that?

  3. Qing LIU says:

    I am a MD . I want to use the tablepress for visitor weekly diet survey or evaluate some diabetes risk factors. but my problems is ‘ How tablepress filled by visitor in special site?’ Thanks very much if you give a suggestion .

    Liu qing in Beijing.

  4. Marc says:

    Ok. I will speak my mind. The issue is column width adjustment. If the control exists it is squirreled away in some secret hiding place. My browser search function can't find it either. The table expands to fill the entire width of the page that I place it on. I don't want to do css hacks to fix this or jump through any hoops to fix this. There should a simple control for such a basic parameter and it is not there. Pretty amazing blind spot on the plugin authors part. It's free I know so I shouldn't complain. So think of my comment as constructive feedback. Ease of use is important. The plugin is like a car without a steering wheel or no gas pedal or only makes left turns but not right turns, etc…

  5. sharad says:

    good work manage wp but you can not have software like web quiz …u need to go railway station..ha ha ha lol

  6. Russ weaver says:

    Hi i have use tables reloaded when i was using wp it was exellent, i am now using osclass to try and develope my own classified ads website ,i notice the plugin system is simlar to wp , what i would like to ask is their anything simlar to TablePress or WP-Table Reloaded, i could use for tables on osclass the only problem is i would use a normal table system but i need tables that engins will pick up links to the subdomains of mysite such as websites for different areas of the country. so it would be important that the seach engines pick up the links within the tables ,any ideas. Thanks Russ. Hallo, ich habe den Einsatz Tabellen neu geladen, wenn ich war mit wp es war ausgezeichnet, ich bin jetzt mit osclass zu versuchen und zu entwickeln meine eigene Kleinanzeigen Website, merke ich das Plugin-System ist simlar zu wp, was ich möchte Sie fragen, ist ihr nichts simlar zu TablePress oder WP-Table Reloaded, konnte ich für Tabellen verwenden auf osclass das einzige Problem ist, ich würde einen normalen Tisch-System verwenden, aber ich brauche Tabellen, engins abholen Links zu den Subdomains mysite wie Websites für verschiedene Gebiete des Landes . so wäre es wichtig, dass die Suchanfrage Motoren abholen die Links in den Tabellen, irgendwelche Ideen. Dank Russ.

  7. andrei says:

    i love this table maker… i use this plugin for my webs. its very easy to handle and have nice look. my web has many data and need this plugin for front end.

  8. Art says:

    Cool plugin, it functions perfectly, I use it for my next project. Good article, cheers!

  9. Khuman says:

    HI,
    I need help,

    I am using tablepress here,

    But its affecting some my sponsor slider,

    My slider working on other pages, but it is not work on pages where tablepress exist

    http://www.teamtortoiseracing.com/2013-kids-course/

    help me urgent

  10. lisa@lyricalbiz.com says:

    Is there a way to merge cells in TablePress? I have a table that contains several headers within it and would love this option.

  11. Antony Hing says:

    Hi Tom

    first off: TablePress rocks and enabled me to compose a large fiddly table quickly. Tobias has clearly thought many things through, eg. The table I initially created in TablePress was 9 columns wide and 17 rows deep and when I updated my blog page the table was too wide for my page. But rather than go through the painstaking task of recreating two tables from scratch, I was able to use his Table Copy function to create two tables then edit each to show the complementary columns – problem quickly solved.

    …However in one of the rows I have logo images that I wished to link to respective websites. While the linking works, it does not allow me to open each link in anew window. I even tried inserting the [ target="_blank"> ] into the image html but that didn't work.

    So it would be great if Tobias could set a flag on the image page close to the Link fields that enables you to open the image link in a new tab (or window).

    Finally it would be a real bonus if there was a wysiwyg formatting tool, rather than having to embed the HTML code or CSS code into each table cell for common things like bold, italicise and colour selection.

    • Antony Hing says:

      I fixed my own problem regarding the link to new tab, I had an extra '>' in my code, so the wrong code was:
      <a href="path_of_file" rel="nofollow"> target="_blank"&gt;</a>

      correct code is:
      <a href="path_of_file" rel="nofollow"></a>

      Cheers
      A

      • Antony Hing says:

        Just realised I posted my previous reply with live HTML so here we go: the wrong code had an extra '&gt;'[ eg href="path_to_link"&gt; target=”_blank”&gt; ]
        correct was to place the target statement after the end of the href link ie: [ href="path to link" target="_blank"&gt; ]. This means you can place a logo in TablePress and on click have it open to a new tab.

  12. intriguingnw says:

    Keen user of ManageWP been using TablePress and it solves so many issues re tables and is so speedy to build and use plugin. Excellent and no doubt will keep advancing. Great stuff Tobias is a star

  13. Rudd says:

    Using Tablepress on a client's site and Tobias was very helpful and responsive to every issue in the support forum. Keep up the greak work.

  14. dambacher says:

    This is an excellent plugin and Tobias is great. I had a slight problem on my site using TablePress (my fault not TablePress) and Tobias had it sorted out within minutes. Within an hour or so of downloading the plugin, I had the tables I needed published on the site. Great plugin, highly recommended. Thanks for the article.

  15. rasihanbharathi says:

    I'm using tablepress plugin !! I need to replace one link in more than 75 tables !! is there any "Find & Replace" over table press ?? If so can any1 fix me out ?? :)

  16. Bharathi Kannan says:

    I'm using tablepress !! i need to replace one link in more than 70 tables, can i do "find AND REPLACE OVER TABLEPRESS" ?? If so how ?? Can any1 help me out ??

  17. Anita says:

    I'm a fan of WP-Table Reloaded and have been using it for about a year on a few sites. I look forward to using TablePress, and will migrate my existing tables within the next few weeks.

    Well done to Tobias for providing us with an excellent table plugin.

  18. NAZMUL HASAN says:

    I'm using this plugin from the day because I love TablePress for their hot UX an UI.

  19. Taneya says:

    I have been playing around with TablePress and it is working well! Thanks so much for this post.

  20. I have try using tablepress. The best thing is import feature. This is the best plugin for make some table.

  21. Ankur says:

    I have been in the blogging scene for a long time now but never really considered a plugin for tables. Used to work with simple HTML or used to import from Excel into live writer. Will check with table press on the extras it could provide.