Sortable Table Columns


A simple yet flexible Rails gem/plugin to quickly add sortable table columns to your controller and views.

Setup (Rails 3)

In your app’s Gemfile, add:

gem "handles_sortable_columns"

To install the gem with RDoc/ri documentation, do a:

$ gem install handles_sortable_columns

Otherwise, do a bundle install.

Setup (Rails 2)

In your app’s config/environment.rb add:

config.gem "handles_sortable_columns"

To install the gem, do a:

$ gem sources --add
$ gem install handles_sortable_columns

, or use rake gems:install.

Basic Usage

Activate the feature in your controller class:

class MyController < ApplicationController

In a view, mark up sortable columns by using the sortable_column helper:

<%= sortable_column "Product" %>
<%= sortable_column "Price" %>

In controller action, fetch and use the order clause according to current state of sortable columns:

def index
  order = sortable_column_order
  @records = Article.order(order)           # Rails 3.
  @records = Article.all(:order => order)   # Rails 2.

That’s it for basic usage. Production usage may require passing additional parameters to listed methods.

Production Usage

Please take time to read the gem’s full RDoc documentation. This README has a limited coverage.


Change names of GET parameters used for sorting and pagination:

class MyController < ApplicationController
  handles_sortable_columns do |conf|
    conf.sort_param = "s"
    conf.page_param = "p"

Change CSS class of all sortable column <a> tags:

handles_sortable_columns do |conf|
  conf.class = "SortableLink"
  conf.indicator_class = {:asc => "AscSortableLink", :desc => "DescSortableLink"}

Change how text-based sort indicator looks like:

handles_sortable_columns do |conf|
  conf.indicator_text = {:asc => "[asc]", :desc => "[desc]"}

Disable text-based sort indicator completely:

handles_sortable_columns do |conf|
  conf.indicator_text = {}

Helper Options

Explicitly specify column name:

<%= sortable_column "Highest Price", :column => "max_price" %>

Specify CSS class for this particular link:

<%= sortable_column "Name", :class => "SortableLink" %>

Specify sort direction on first click:

<%= sortable_column "Created At", :direction => :asc %>

Fetching Sort Order

To fetch sort order securely, with column name validation, default values and multiple sort criteria, use the block form of sortable_column_order:

order = sortable_column_order do |column, direction|
  case column
  when "name"
    "#{column} #{direction}"
  when "created_at", "updated_at"
    "#{column} #{direction}, name ASC"
    "name ASC"


Send bug reports, suggestions and criticisms through project’s page on GitHub.