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A DataTable with Drop-down Select Menus - Jamie Johnson

Jamie Johnson

September 20, 2017; updated November 1, 2017

A few months ago, I wrote an article about A DataTable with AJAX using SpryMedia's DataTables Table plug-in for jQuery. This implementation offers how to add a drop-down select menu. In the example, one can use the drop-down to only see the male or only see the female villains. Check it out (and also check out the highlighted November 1, 2017, updates):

Alias Name Gender Appeared

The DataTable documentation at only shows how to do this with the drop-down below the table in the table footer (<tfoot>) and on every column. So, how did I get the drop-down select menu to only show up for the third column above the table header (<thead>)? I used classed cells and some custom JavaScript (In bold in the below code). Here's the code (pay attention to the bold section and comments therein. I have made assets linkable for your convenience):

<script type="text/javascript" src="datatable/jquery-1.12.0.min.js"></script>
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="datatable/datatables.min.css"/>
<script type="text/javascript" src="datatable/datatables.min.js"></script>
<table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" border="0" class="display datatable">

    <tr class="dropdown">
        <td class="first"></td>
        <td class="second"></td>
        <td class="third"></td>
        <td class="fourth"></td>
        <th class="first">Alias</th>
        <td class="second">Name</td>
        <td class="third">Gender</td>
        <td class="fourth">Appeared</td>

<tbody id="itemsoutput">
<style type="text/css">
.dataTables_filter { position: relative; left: -40px; }
<script type="text/javascript">
$(document).ready(function() {
    var mesa = $('.datatable').DataTable( { 
        responsive: true,
        "bAutoWidth": false, // toggle this depending on how wide you want the table
        ajax: "",/* It would make since to generate this dynamically from XML 
        with a server-side language like perl. For this example, I am using a static file.  However, here is a 
        perl script to  do it: batmandata.cgi*/
        columns: [
            { data: 'alias' },
            { data: 'name' },
            { data: 'gender' },
            { data: 'appeared' }

        initComplete: function () { // After DataTable initialized
            this.api().columns([2]).every( function () {
            /* use of [2] for third column.  Leave blank - columns() - for all. 
            Multiples? Use columns[0,1]) for first and second, e.g. */
                 var column = this; 
                 var select = $('<select><option value=""/></select>')
                      .appendTo( $('.datatable .dropdown .third').empty() ) /* for multiples use .appendTo( $(column.header()).empty() ) or .appendTo( $(column.footer()).empty() ) */
                      .on( 'change', function () {
                           var val = $.fn.dataTable.util.escapeRegex(
                      Above - appendTo, in this case, uses my customized classes instead of doing one of one of the following: 
                      .appendTo($(column.header()).empty()) or .appendTo($(column.footer()).empty()) 
        UPDATE November 1: However, if you want multiples, you would want to use .appendTo($(column.header()).empty()) 
        for thead element or .appendTo($(column.footer()).empty())  for tfoot element. You would have to create a tfoot 
        element with row for the latter.  If you have a thead element and want to see titles, etc., but still want the 
        menus at the top, then you can inline style the tfoot element with style="display:footer-header-group;" and 
        that will place the menus at the top.  If you code your markup of the tfoot below the thead, that works out nicely. 
                      – Jamie 
                           .search( val ? '^'+val+'$' : '', true, false )
                      } );
        function ( d, j ) {
                      select.append( '<option value="'+d+'">'+d+'</option>' )
                 } );
            } ); // this.api function
        } //initComplete function 

    } );
} );
$( window ).resize(function() { 
<style type="text/css">
@media all and (min-width: 120px){
.tabular-row, .tabular-cell { display: block; }
@media all and (min-width: 769px){
.tabular-row{ display: table-row; }
.tabular-cell { display: table-cell; }

For an example of a DataTable with multiple drop-down menus (select menus), refer to my article A DataTable with Multiple Drop-down Select Menus.

There are probably some more dynamic things one can do to determine which column to use, etc., but this will get you started. Happy coding!


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