May 13, 2015

Legacy DataTable sorting with moment.js

Recently I had the requirement to add sorting to a legacy DataTables (1.7.5), the column contains data in [Monthname] YYYY and DD.MM.YYYY – DD.MM.YYYY format.
For example:

  • December 2014
  • 15.10.14-30.10.14
  • January 2015

The normal DataTables sorting algorithm can only sort the column alphabetically, so we needed some improvement. After a short search on the DataTables website, I found this blog entry ( with a plugin from Allan Jardin. The plugin can detect the date fields by a given pattern and then sort them with moment.js.

The problem here is, Allan Jardin wrote this plugin for the new DataTables API, so I first had to change the API-Calls to fit the legacy DataTables API. I changed following lines:




The original implementation uses the -pre sort name, this is available from DataTables 1.9+, so I splitted the implementation into -asc and -desc functions. Now you can add your desired date pattern to initialize the column sorting. With the line

prior to your DataTables initialization, the sorting is setup and ready to go. You can build your pattern with the help from the moment.js-docs.

Here you can find the code for Example 1.

With this implementation you can sort columns with the same date pattern, but our goal is to sort a column with mixed date patterns, as described above.

One one hand, we can use the pattern MMMM YYYY mentioned above, but which pattern should we use for date-ranges?
In our implementation the dates are not overlapping, so I decided to use the first part of the date-range for sorting (15.10.14 - 30.10.14 -> 15.10.14).

Therefore we got two moment.js patterns here:

  • MMMM YYYY for December 2014
  • DD.MM.YY for 15.10.14

But we need the correct unix timestamp and the correct pattern for each entry,so I wrote wrote the getSpecialValueAndFormat-Function.

  • the function removes unused html-tags and whitespaces. (unfortunately generated by the Scala-Lift-Framework)
  • based on a regex, the function decides which pattern should be used and returns the value and the correct pattern

With the value and the pattern, we can use the parseFormatToUnix-Function from the first Example and calculate the timestamps.

Finally you only need to specify the sType of the DataTables column with:

Here you can see the final code for Example 2.

I hope this helps thanks the moment.js-Team and Allan Jardin for his great plugin.

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Frederik von Berg
Developer at thecodecampus </>

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