I'm trying to build a sortable grid:

sortBy[data_, idx_] := 
  If[idx == 0, data, Sort[data, #1[[idx]] < #2[[idx]] &]];
sortableTable[data_, header_] := DynamicModule[
  {h, sort = 0},
  h = MapIndexed[Button[#1, sort = #2] &, header];
  Dynamic[Grid[Prepend[sortBy[data, sort], h]]]];
    RandomInteger[100], {i, 3}, {j, 4}], 
    {"First", "Second", "Third", "Fourth"}]

For some reason it is not behaving like I expected: header disappears and sorting doesn't occur. I've tried all sorts of stuff but can't make it work like intended. Any help is much appreciated.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ try: sort = First@#2 in the MapIndexed $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. This was the actual error. $\endgroup$
    – mikea
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 20:24

4 Answers 4


This should work:

rows = 3;
cols = 4;
data = RandomInteger[{1, 100}, {rows, cols}];
names = {"First", "Second", "Third", "Fourth"};
sortBy[data_, idx_] := If[idx == 0, data, Sort[data, #1[[idx]] < #2[[idx]] &]];
Dynamic@Grid@Prepend[data, Array[Button[names[[#]], data = sortBy[data, #]] &, cols]]

enter image description here


There is no need to re-invent SortBy.

Stealing ybeltukov solution:

                      data = SortBy[data, Function[x, #[[x]] &][#]]
                     ] &
               , cols]
  • $\begingroup$ You forgot to localize x. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Mr.Wizard I didn't, I was just too lazy to do this. Or frustrated by recent question where no one cared about localiziing t or letter case in sin till you posted the answer :) $\endgroup$
    – Kuba
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 21:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mr.Wizard But I should act like an adult so I've edited it :p $\endgroup$
    – Kuba
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 21:32

Here is a possibility:

labels = {"First", "Second", "Third", "Fourth"};
nrows = 4;
data = RandomInteger[{1, 100}, {nrows, Length@labels}];

DynamicModule[{idx = 1},
   Prepend[SortBy[data, #[[idx]] &], 
    MapIndexed[Setter[Dynamic@idx, #2, #1] &, labels]],
   Spacings -> {0, Automatic}]

Mathematica graphics

If speed on a large dataset should happen to be an issue (unlikely, since the data are displayed), then this will be faster:

DynamicModule[{idx = 1},
   Prepend[data[[Ordering[data[[All, idx]]]]], 
    MapIndexed[Setter[Dynamic@idx, #2, #1] &, labels]],
   Spacings -> {0, Automatic}]

The above answers worked for me, but I thought I'd add my tweak to allow clicking twice to toggle reverse sort:

names={"matches","p1","p2","diff","factored","gap signature"};
disp:=Dynamic[Refresh[Block[{t},Grid[Prepend[tab,Array[Button[names[[#]],t=If[#==lastSort,lastSort=0;-1,lastSort=#;1];data=SortBy[data,Function[x,t #[[x]]&][#]]]&,Length[names]]]]],TrackedSymbols:>{data}]];

This gives the buttons the names provided, and disp is now a dynamic stand-in for the sortable table.

As an aside, the Refresh[expr, TrackedSymbols:>{data}] I've found seems to help Dynamic expressions not suck up so much CPU.


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