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Droptables 3.6: a new tool to manage tables in Joomla

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It is easy to think that web tables are a relic of the past, but the illusion fades when you need them. Web tables can be useful for several reasons: to summarize data, to show different price tiers or to compare subscription plans. If you do end up needing tables, Droptables 3.6, the latest version of our Joomla plugin, breathes new life into web tables.

Droptables is Joomunited's extension for Joomla tables. Droptables has just received a new update that, among others, makes the plugin compatible with the newly-released Joomla 4. The update also improves table auto-saving and load performance, but the biggest changes affect user experience: the improved managers, editors and database tables.

New user experience for table management and editing

The clearest sign of an update in Droptables is the cleaner interface and the improved user experience that comes with it. The entire workflow to manage tables and categories has been greatly simplified, with less clutter and more white space.

The table and category manager remains a single but simpler page. On the top, a simple toolbar to create categories or tables, filter tables or access the configuration. On the left, the category tree. And in the middle, occupying the largest share of your Joomla space, the tables in a given category.

You can use the toolbar to limit the selection of tables. From the first dropdown, you can display all tables, or just database tables or normal tables. If you already know what table you want to edit, you can search for it directly from the toolbar by typing its name. All filtering uses AJAX, ensuring optimal user experience. Click on any table to access the editor.

The table editor has also received updates, though more subtle than the ones in the table and category manager. Most notably, the editor now has an explicit save button. The auto-save function has also been optimized under the hood, and if you have large Joomla tables, you might notice quicker loading times in the front-end.

Improved Joomla database table workflow

One of the lesser-known functions in Droptables is the ability to create tables from Joomla databases. You can use database tables to tabulate your Joomla blog's data and display it in the frontend: your e-commerce sales, your subscribed users, your blog posts. You can create database tables from the table and category manager.

To create a database table, click on the create new button, and then choose database table. The process to create a table from a database has been streamlined, modeled after MySQL. In other words, you start by choosing the tables and then the columns you want to use.

If you select multiple tables, you can link them together—analogous to SQL JOINs—next. You can also filter rows—WHERE—, group data—GROUP BY—and sort the data—ORDER BY. In addition to SQL's basic functionality, Droptables provides features to limit the number of rows and to activate pagination. To make sure that your selection reflects your intention, click on preview, and if everything looks as intended, create the table.

From this point onwards, the database table acts like any other normal Joomla table. Back in the table and category manager, you can click on the newly-created database table to edit the way it looks and functions. Differently from normal tables, you can change the way the table is created by updating the data source from the Table menu.

It's very easy to underestimate tables, but with Droptables, Joomla data takes a new meaning. Whether you are presenting your offering to users in a structured manner or converting your databases into an easy-to-consume table, Droptables does it all. Now that Droptables is compatible with Joomla! 4, nothing stops you from exploiting your data's potential.

Does your Joomla blog need tables? Interested in using Droptables? Check out our Joomla 4 extension here.

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Saturday, January 22 2022

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