1.0.6 • Public • Published

Run DataTables under Rails Turbolinks

A Stimulus wrapper for DataTables under Rails Turbolinks.

Toggle Scrolling demo


Here is a zero config example.

<table id="zero-config" class="table" data-controller="datatable" >

Here is an example of passing the ajax data path from Rails to DataTables. This uses the ajax-datatables-rails gem. It also sets { debug: true } to turn on console logging.

<table id="ajax-datatable" class="table"
  data-datatable-config="<%= { 
    debug: true,
    serverSide: true,
    ajax: datatable_articles_path,
    dom: 'lfriptrip',
    stateSave: true,
    columns: [
      {title: 'Title', data: 'title', width: '30%' },
      {title: 'Text', data: 'text', },
  }.to_json %>"


Add ajax-datatables-rails to your Gemfile and follow the data source setup instructions.

gem 'ajax-datatables-rails'

Add rails-datatables to package.json and register it with Stimulus.

yarn add rails-datatables
// If jQuery is not already registered in window.jQuery do it here.
window.jQuery = window.$ = require('jquery')
// The controller will call: window.jQuery(table).DataTable(config)
// These examples use bootstrap4 and the scroller plugin.
// See https://datatables.net/download for more options.
// Stimulus setup.
import { Application } from 'stimulus'
const application = Application.start()
// Register the rails-datatables controller.
import Datatable from 'rails-datatables'
application.register('datatable', Datatable)

There appears to be a Datatable problem with long lines not folding in the scroller plugin. Here is the scss setup for these examples with the line folding workaround.

@import 'datatables.net-bs4/css/dataTables.bootstrap4';
@import 'datatables.net-scroller-bs4/css/scroller.bootstrap4.css';
table.dataTable tbody tr td {
  white-space: normal;

Advanced Usage

You can make custom stimulus controllers which extend the standard stimulus datatables controller.

Datatables under Turbolinks triggers extra initialize() and connect() calls that are ignored by the controller. The .DataTable() call alters the table element which causes ghost initialization and connect events that need to be ignored.

When we navigate to a page which is already in the Turbolinks cache, Turbolinks shows the cached copy as a preview page until the real page arrives from the server.

There is no point in setting up DataTables for preview pages since we will need to wait for the ajax call to retrieve the data from the server for display in the real page.

There are three events that you can customize. initialize() sets up the configuration options. connect() starts up DataTables. teardown() destroys the DataTable instance.

When you override initialize() and connect() you will want to ignore the ghost events by testing with this.isBooting(). See the example below. super.initialize() and super.connect() return the config object while booting and return false for ghost events.

Call this.log(msg, data) to write to the console log to debug custom controller setups. See below for an example.

You can turn on debug messages by setting { debug: true }. Call this.debug(msg, data) to write to console.log only when this.config.debug is true.

import DataTable from 'rails-datatables'
export default class extends DataTable {
  initialize() {
    // Ignore ghost events.
    if (!this.isBooting()) return
    // Default settings here will be overridden by component configurations.
    this.config = { pagingType: 'full_numbers', debug: true }
    // Call the super method which gets the component configuration.
    // This sets the final config values.
    this.config.dom = 'lfriptrip'
  connect() {
    // Ignore ghost events.
    if (!this.isBooting()) return
    // You can alter the config here before the connect.
    // Call the super method to start up DataTables.
    // Any post connect actions here.
  teardown() {
    // Any before or after teardown actions. Here we write to console.log.
    this.log('finished', { dt: this })
    // Call the super method to destroy the DataTable instance.

External Control

Sometimes we will want to make changes to a running DataTables instance.

In order to facilitate this, the DOM table element is linked to its controller instance: table.dt. Each controller instance is linked back to the DOM table dt.element, the dt.config, and the live DataTable API object dt.dataTable.

Here is an example of a custom controller which can change state between scrolling or paging depending on a #toggle-scrolling checkbox. This example is running in the animated gif above.

As the comment mentions, we can reconfigure a DataTable by updating the config and calling dt.teardown(). The teardown process will alter the DOM element which will trigger a stimulus reconnect with the new config.

Here is the html containing the checkbox and the table.

<input id="toggle-scrolling" type="checkbox" checked
<table id="articles-datatable" class="table"
  data-articles-datatable-config="<%= { 
    debug: true,
    serverSide: true,
    ajax: datatable_articles_path,
    scroller: true,
    scrollY: 600,
    dom: 'lfriptrip',
    deferRender: true,
    pagingType: 'full_numbers',
    columns: [
      {title: 'Title', data: 'title', width: '30%' },
      {title: 'Text', data: 'text' },
  }.to_json %>"

Here is the custom articles-datatable controller which toggles between scrolling and paging display modes.

import DataTable from 'rails-datatables'
export default class extends DataTable {
  initialize() {
    if (!this.isBooting()) return
    // Link to the scrolling checkbox and back.
    const checkbox = $('#toggle-scrolling')[0]
    if (checkbox) {
      checkbox.dt = this
      this.checkbox = checkbox
    // Get the table config and the scrolling state.
  toggle_scrolling = event => {
    const dt = this.element.dt
    if (dt) {
      dt.teardown() // This triggers a reconnect.
  setScrollingState = () => {
    const scrolling = this.checkbox && this.checkbox.checked
    const config = this.config || {}
    config.scroller = scrolling
    config.scrollY = scrolling ? 600 : undefined
    config.stateSave = !scrolling


npm i rails-datatables

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  • johngorman