Monthly Downloads: 10,317
Programming language: Ruby
License: MIT License
Tags: Reports     Data Structures     Pivot    
Latest version: v1.0.0

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Pivot Table

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A handy tool for transforming a dataset into a spreadsheet-style pivot table.

Why make this?

One of the most powerful and underrated features of spreadhseet packages is their ability to create pivot tables. I'm often asked to replicate this functionality in a web application, so I decided to share. This is a simple gem for a specific job, I hope it helps.

What this gem WILL do

This gem provides a simple mechanism to handle the turning of a dataset into a cross-tabular format for display purposes. The gem will make it easy to display your data in the form of a pivot table.

What this gem WILL NOT do

This gem is not a data aggregation engine (and it probably never will be). This gem expects an aggregated dataset. If you're looking for a gem to handle data aggregation then you may want to take a look at the ruport gem.


Couldn't be easier...

gem install pivot_table


At the very least, you will need to provide three things to create a pivot table...

  • a dataset (this doesn't necessarily have to be an ActiveRecord dataset, but it should at least behave like ActiveRecord e.g. OpenStruct)
  • the method to be used as column names
  • the method to be used as row names

Let's say you have a collection of Order objects that looks like this:

obj_1 = Order.new(city: 'London',   quarter: 'Q1')
obj_2 = Order.new(city: 'London',   quarter: 'Q2')
obj_3 = Order.new(city: 'London',   quarter: 'Q3')
obj_4 = Order.new(city: 'London',   quarter: 'Q4')
obj_5 = Order.new(city: 'New York', quarter: 'Q1')
obj_6 = Order.new(city: 'New York', quarter: 'Q2')
obj_7 = Order.new(city: 'New York', quarter: 'Q3')
obj_8 = Order.new(city: 'New York', quarter: 'Q4')

data = [ obj_1, obj_2, obj_3, obj_4, obj_5, obj_6, obj_7, obj_8 ]

Instantiate a new PivotTable::Grid object like this...

g = PivotTable::Grid.new do |g|
  g.source_data  = data
  g.column_name  = :quarter
  g.row_name     = :city
  g.value_name   = :sales

The value_name parameter is only required if you want to access totals; the others are required.

All you have to do now is build the grid...


This will give you a logical grid (represented by an two-dimensional array) which can be likened to this table:

|          |  Q1   |  Q2   |  Q3   |  Q4   |
| London   | obj_1 | obj_2 | obj_3 | obj_4 |
| New York | obj_5 | obj_6 | obj_7 | obj_8 |

Then you have the following aspects of the pivot table grid available to you...

g.row_headers => ['London', 'New York']
g.rows.length => 2

g.rows[0].header            => 'London'
g.rows[0].data              => [obj_1, obj_2, obj_3, obj_4]
g.rows[0].column_data('Q2') => obj_2

g.rows[1].header            => 'New York'
g.rows[1].data              => [obj_5, obj_6, obj_7, obj_8]
g.rows[1].column_data('Q2') => obj_6

g.column_headers => ['Q1', 'Q2', 'Q3', 'Q4']
g.columns.length => 4

g.columns[0].header             => 'Q1'
g.columns[0].data               => [obj_1, obj_5]
g.columns[0].row_data('London') => obj_1

g.columns[1].header             => 'Q2'
g.columns[1].data               => [obj_2, obj_6]
g.columns[1].row_data('London') => obj_2

g.columns[2].header             => 'Q3'
g.columns[2].data               => [obj_3, obj_7]
g.columns[2].row_data('London') => obj_3

g.columns[3].header             => 'Q4'
g.columns[3].data               => [obj_4, obj_8]
g.columns[3].row_data('London') => obj_4

The API should give you a lot of flexibility with regards to rendering this information in your views. E.g. The rows and columns collections make it very easy to produce horizontal, vertical and overall total values.

If you want to get the totals for rows, columns, or the entire grid, you can pass a value_name as shown above, and then query the Grid like this:

Specifying the pivot field

You can also specify the field name which should be used as the pivot. Typically you would use this when you want to pivot on a string field which cannot be aggregated.

This option will generate a simplified grid which will contain the specified field value instead of the objects.

Consider the following data (similar to above):

obj_1 = Order.new(city: 'London',   quarter: 'Q1', top_sales: 'Ed')
obj_2 = Order.new(city: 'London',   quarter: 'Q2', top_sales: 'Jim')
obj_3 = Order.new(city: 'London',   quarter: 'Q3', top_sales: 'Sam')
obj_4 = Order.new(city: 'London',   quarter: 'Q4', top_sales: 'Ed')
obj_5 = Order.new(city: 'New York', quarter: 'Q1', top_sales: 'Tom')
obj_6 = Order.new(city: 'New York', quarter: 'Q2', top_sales: 'Sandy')
obj_7 = Order.new(city: 'New York', quarter: 'Q3', top_sales: 'Phil')
obj_8 = Order.new(city: 'New York', quarter: 'Q4', top_sales: 'Jim')

Instantiate a new PivotTable::Grid object, this time specifying the field_name:

g = PivotTable::Grid.new do |g|
  g.source_data  = data
  g.column_name  = :quarter
  g.row_name     = :city
  g.value_name   = :sales
  g.field_name   = :top_sales

Build the grid...


This will give you a logical grid (represented by an two-dimensional array) which can be likened to this table:

|          |  Q1   |  Q2   |  Q3   |  Q4   |
| London   | Ed    | Jim   | Sam   | Ed    |
| New York | Tom   | Sandy | Phil  | Jim   |

Compare this to the first example above. It's simpler, if that's what you need.

Configuration Options

You can also provide additional configuration options when instantiating your Grid. Options are provided as a hash e.g.

g = PivotTable::Grid.new(:sort => true) do |g|
  g.source_data  = data
  g.column_name  = :quarter
  g.row_name     = :city

Here are the available configuration options:

1. Sort

Usage: sort: false

Default: true

This option will automatically sort your data alphabetically based on your column and row headers. If you disable sorting your original data ordering will be preserved.

Ruby Support

This gem should work with all currently supported Ruby versions.

Contributing to PivotTable

If you want to contribute:

  • Check out the latest master to make sure the feature hasn’t been implemented or the bug hasn’t been fixed yet
  • Check out the issue tracker to make sure someone already hasn’t requested it and/or contributed it
  • Fork the project
  • Start a feature/bugfix branch
  • Commit and push until you are happy with your contribution
  • Make sure to add tests for it. This is important so I don’t break it in a future version unintentionally.
  • Please try not to mess with the Rakefile, version, or history.


Copyright (c) 2020 Ed James. See LICENSE for details.

*Note that all licence references and agreements mentioned in the Pivot Table README section above are relevant to that project's source code only.