A Themeable React Data Grid With Great UX-Focused Features


KendoReact can save you boatloads of time because it offers pre-built componentry you can use in your app right away. They look nice, but more importantly, they are easily themeable, so they look however you need them to look. And I’d say the looks aren’t even the important part. There are lots of component libraries out there that focus on the visuals. These components tackle the hardest interactivity problems in UI/UX, and do it with grace, speed, and accessibility in mind.

Let’s take a look at their React Data Grid component.

The ol’ <table> element is the right tool for the job for data grids, but a table doesn’t offer most of the features that make for a good data browsing experience. If we use the KendoReact <Grid /> component (and friends), we get an absolute ton of extra features, any one of which is non-trivial to pull off nicely, and all together make for an extremely compelling solution. Let’s go through a list of what you get.

Sortable Columns

You’ll surely pick a default ordering for your data, but if any given row of data has things like ID’s, dates, or names, it’s perfectly likely that a user would want to sort the column by that data. Perhaps they want to view the oldest orders, or the orders of the highest total value. HTML does not help with ordering in tables, so this is table stakes (get it?!) for a JavaScript library for data grids, and it’s perfectly handled here.

Pagination and Limits

When you have any more than, say, a few dozen rows of data, it’s common that you want to paginate it. That way users don’t have to scroll as much, and equally importantly, it keeps the page fast by not making the DOM too enormous. One of the problems with pagination though is it makes things like sorting harder! You can’t just sort the 20 rows you can see, it is expected that the entire data set gets sorted. Of course that’s handled in KendoReact’s Data Grid component.

Or, if pagination isn’t your thing, the data grid offers virtualized scrolling — in both the column and row directions. That’s a nice touch as the data loads quickly for smooth, natural scrolling.

Expandable Rows

A data grid might have a bunch of data visible across the row itself, but there might be even more data that a user might want to dig out of an entry once they find it. Perhaps it is data that doesn’t need to be cross-referenced in the same way column data is. This can be tricky to pull off, because of the way table cells are laid out. The data is still associated with a single row, but you often need more room than the width of one cell offers. With the KendoReact Data Grid component, you can pass in a detail prop with an arbitrary React component to show when a row is expanded. Super flexible!

Responsive Design

Perhaps the most notoriously difficult thing to pull off with <table> designs is how to display them on small screens. Zooming out isn’t very good UX, nor is collapsing the table into something non-table-like. The thing about data grids is that they are all different, and you’ll know data is most important to your users best. The KendoReact Data Grid component helps with this by making your data grid scrollable/swipeable, and also being able to lock columns to make sure they continue to be easy to find and cross-reference.

Filtering Data

This is perhaps my favorite feature just because of how UX-focused it is. Imagine you’re looking at a big data grid of orders, and you’re like “Let me see all orders from White Clover Markets.” With a filtering feature, perhaps you quickly type “clover” into the filter input, and viola, all those orders are right there. That’s extra tricky stuff when you’re also supporting ordering and pagination — so it’s great all these features work together.

Grouping Data

Now this feature actually blows my mind 🤯 a little bit. Filtering and sorting are both very useful, but in some cases, they leave a little bit to be desired. For example, it’s easy to filter too far too quickly, leaving the data you are looking at very limited. And with sorting, you might be trying to look at a subset of data as well, but it’s up to your brain to figure out where that data begins and ends. With grouping, you can tell the data grid to strongly group together things that are the most important to you, but then still leverage filtering and sorting on top of that. It instantly makes your data exploration easier and more useful.

Localization

This is where you can really tell KendoReact went full monty. It would be highly unfortunate to pick some kind of component library and then realize that you need localization and realize it wasn’t made to be a first-class citizen. You avoid all that with KendoReact, which you can see in this Data Grid component. In the demo, you can flip out English for Spanish with a simple dropdown and see all the dates localized. You pull off any sort of translation and localization with the <LocalizationProvider> and <IntlProvider>, both comfortable React concepts.

Exporting to PDF or Excel

Here’s a live demo of this:

C’mon now! That’s very cool.

That’s not all…

Go check out the docs for the React Data Grid. There are a bunch more features we didn’t even get to here (row pinning! cell editing!). And here’s something to ease your mind: this component, and all the KendoReact components, are keyboard friendly and meet Section 508 accessibility standards. That is no small feat. When components are this complex and involve this much interactivity, getting the accessibility right is tough. So not only are you getting good-looking components that work everywhere, you’re getting richly interactive components that deliver UX beyond what you might even think of, and it’s all done fast and accessiblty. That’s pretty unreal, really.



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