So you’ve just called your first REST service and have JSON array full of data… Where do you put it? I noticed lots of people using various plug-ins to create HTML tables by defining columns, data types, etc… but what happens when you don’t know this? Since I wanted to throw random JSON data into HTML tables, I created two helper functions that will iterate over the data to create the views.

This code below is an improvement to my ad-hoc JavaScript solution I created a few weeks ago for a ASP.NET project, link below. As you will see below, it’s pretty easy to render a HTML table from a object array using plain JavaScript. Since most results are in a Table or Detail layout, I created 2 functions to return the data in either format. I also added some optional parameters that you can set to control formatting. The Details View was designed to show a single row/object, the headers will display on the left and the data will display on the right (see second example).

// This function creates a standard table with column/rows
// Parameter Information
// objArray = Anytype of object array, like JSON results
// theme (optional) = A css class to add to the table (e.g. <table class="<theme>">
// enableHeader (optional) = Controls if you want to hide/show, default is show
function CreateTableView(objArray, theme, enableHeader) {
    // set optional theme parameter
    if (theme === undefined) {
        theme = 'mediumTable'; //default theme
    }

    if (enableHeader === undefined) {
        enableHeader = true; //default enable headers
    }

    // If the returned data is an object do nothing, else try to parse
    var array = typeof objArray != 'object' ? JSON.parse(objArray) : objArray;

    var str = '<table class="' + theme + '">';
    
    // table head
    if (enableHeader) {
        str += '<thead><tr>';
        for (var index in array[0]) {
            str += '<th scope="col">' + index + '</th>';
        }
        str += '</tr></thead>';
    }
    
    // table body
    str += '<tbody>';
    for (var i = 0; i < array.length; i++) {
        str += (i % 2 == 0) ? '<tr class="alt">' : '<tr>';
        for (var index in array[i]) {
            str += '<td>' + array[i][index] + '</td>';
        }
        str += '</tr>';
    }
    str += '</tbody>'
    str += '</table>';
    return str;
}

// This function creates a details view table with column 1 as the header and column 2 as the details
// Parameter Information
// objArray = Anytype of object array, like JSON results
// theme (optional) = A css class to add to the table (e.g. <table class="<theme>">
// enableHeader (optional) = Controls if you want to hide/show, default is show
function CreateDetailView(objArray, theme, enableHeader) {
    // set optional theme parameter
    if (theme === undefined) {
        theme = 'mediumTable';  //default theme
    }

    if (enableHeader === undefined) {
        enableHeader = true; //default enable headers
    }
    
    // If the returned data is an object do nothing, else try to parse
    var array = typeof objArray != 'object' ? JSON.parse(objArray) : objArray;

    var str = '<table class="' + theme + '">';
    str += '<tbody>';


    for (var i = 0; i < array.length; i++) {
        var row = 0;
        for (var index in array[i]) {
            str += (row % 2 == 0) ? '<tr class="alt">' : '<tr>';

            if (enableHeader) {
                str += '<th scope="row">' + index + '</th>';
            }
            
            str += '<td>' + array[i][index] + '</td>';
            str += '</tr>';
            row++;
        }
    }
    str += '</tbody>'
    str += '</table>';
    return str;
}

Standard Table Example Usage:

    $(document).ready(function() {
        $.ajax({
            type: "POST",
            url: "/SampleRestService",
            contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8",
            dataType: "json",
            data: "{}",
            success: function(res) {
                $('#Results').append(CreateTableView(res)).fadeIn();
            }
        });
    });

JSON to HTML Table - Standard View

Details View Example Usage:

    $(document).ready(function() {
        $.ajax({
            type: "POST",
            url: "/SampleRestService",
            contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8",
            dataType: "json",
            data: "{}",
            success: function(res) {
                $('#Results').append(CreateDetailView(res,"CoolTableTheme",true)).fadeIn();
            }
        });
    });

JSON to HTML Table - Details View

JSON to HTML JavaScript Source Code

That’s it, just do you normal jQuery ajax call and you can put your JSON into a HTML Table. This is a great way to test your JSON objects. I’ve tested the JSON to HTML on various object(s) and the results have been pretty good. If you find you need advanced features when your building your HTML table, you should look at something like jqGrid that has paging, sorting, etc…

[Update 10/6/2010]
A lot of people have asked for a full working HTML demo using JSON strings. The link below is a demo showing how to use the helpers with various JSON strings. Let me know if this helps!

JSON to HTML – Complete HTML Demo Project