Last year I had the biggest webdesign job in my career (also the last one, as I quit designing websites for new clients just after). I wanted to make the CMS as user friendly as possible and went with WordPress. Two reasons: ease of use – with Joomla as the alternative WordPress was the clear winner. I could not figure out Joomla even after several tries and was dreading the day I’d have to explain it to others. WordPress on the other hand is easy to use. Of course Blogger is even easier, but we needed a professional site, not a blog. The other reason: I’d made WordPress sites before and was familiar with the platform.
Anyhow – the one thing that was missing was tables. I looked high and low for a table plugin that would satisfy my requirements, and could not find any. In the end I went without a table plugin and when push came to shove convinced the one person in the organisation who would have had to work with tables that he didn’t need them.
However, for a new site I just built for myself I did want tables. So I went and looked again.
Most table plugins create a database table in the backend somewhere and then expect you to pull it in with a shortcode. That may be the best method for things like forms, but for every day editing it’s just not a good solution. I wanted to be able to edit the table in the post itself just like you’d do in a word processing program.
So I looked on.
In the end I found the popular TinyMCE Advanced plugin. Last updated in 2009 unfortunately, but it does the trick.
I am not sorry I didn’t implement it on that client site, because teaching a newbie to use it would have been a bit of trouble. To make it look good you have to manually enter the width (100% works best in most cases). But once you’ve done that you end up with a table that can be edited too: you can merge cells, add rows, change the aligning of cells or rows or the whole table etc. In short: you can do what you’re used to doing with tables in your favorite word processing software.
So, TinyMCE Advanced is the best table plugin I could find. It’s reasonably user friendly and it doesn’t add bloated code to the finished post or the site as a whole.
BTW: do check the button under ‘advanced settings’ that says ‘Stop removing the <p> and <br /> tags when saving and show them in the HTML editor’. You DO want your paragraphs to show up as well… different paragraphs.