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Resizing All ag-Grid (React) Columns

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29 Mar 2020CPOL
Using measureText method to calculate widths of text and then use setColumnWidth to adjust columns
Is it possible to resize all columns while enjoying the benefits of virtualization? If your grid cells contain only text and you know the font then yes, it's possible. In this post, you will see a module that can collect minimal width needed for each column. You will see a demo app and the usage.

TL;DR

You can use measureText method to calculate widths of text and then use setColumnWidth to adjust columns. This the demo and this is the repo. It's quite likely that you don't need this technique (suppressColumnVirtualisation might be enough), but read on if your grid has huge amount of columns and users need high data density...

Virtualization Vs Resize

I've been porting some old UI with grids based on HTML table to ag-Grid. Users appreciate the features added by ag-Grid (such as filters, pinning, sorting, resizing, reordering, grouping...) but noticed one change for worse: not all columns were automatically sized to take the smallest amount of space possible. In enterprise applications, data density is really important (not recognizing that is a recipe for failure). Too much white space means that people might miss important information or have to waste time scrolling...

ag-Grid is capable of handing huge amount of rows and columns thanks to virtualization. The grid creates elements only for rows and columns which are currently visible (plus some buffer) to avoid producing bloated DOM (too many elements severely degrade performance). Virtualization means that the API methods designed to automatically resize columns are only capable of resizing the rendered columns. ag-Grid has suppressColumnVirtualisation option but in my case, girds can have as many as 300 columns so turning virtualization off is not possible for performance reasons.

The Solution

So is it possible to resize all columns while enjoying the benefits of virtualization? If your grid cells contain only text and you know the font then yes, it's possible.

You can calculate the width of text for each grid cell and collect the minimal width needed for each of the gird columns. ag-Grid API might then be used to set desired column sizes. Text width calculation could be done efficiently with measureText method on Canvas.

Here's a module that can collect minimal width needed for each column (it doesn't have any dependency on React):

const canvas = document.createElement('canvas');
const context = canvas.getContext('2d');

const collectMaxWidth = (text, group, maxWidths) => {
    const width = context.measureText(text).width;

    const maxWidth = maxWidths.get(group);

    if (maxWidth === undefined || width > maxWidth) {
        maxWidths.set(group, width);
    }
};

const collectMaxWidthCached = (text, group, maxWidths, widthsCache) => {
    const cachedWidth = widthsCache.get(text);

    let width;

    if (cachedWidth === undefined) {
        width = context.measureText(text).width;
        widthsCache.set(text, width);
    } else {
        width = cachedWidth;
    }

    const maxWidth = maxWidths.get(group);

    if (maxWidth === undefined || width > maxWidth) {
        maxWidths.set(group, width);
    }
};

const calculateColumnWidths = config => {
    console.time('Column widths calculation');

    const maxWidths = new Map()

    if (config.measureHeaders) {
        context.font = config.headerFont;

        config.columnDefs.forEach(column => {
            collectMaxWidth(column.headerName, column.field, maxWidths);
        });
    }

    context.font = config.rowFont;

    config.rowData.forEach(row => {
        config.columnDefs.forEach(column => {
            if (config.cache) {
                collectMaxWidthCached(row[column.field], 
                                      column.field, maxWidths, config.cache);
            } else {
                collectMaxWidth(row[column.field], column.field, maxWidths);
            }
        });
    });

    const updatedColumnDefs = config.columnDefs.map(cd => ({
        ...cd,
        width: Math.ceil(maxWidths.get(cd.field) + config.padding)
    }));

    console.timeEnd('Column widths calculation');

    return updatedColumnDefs;
};

export default calculateColumnWidths;

The module creates canvas element and then a 2D context is retrieved from it. The context is used in collectMaxWidth function to measure size of provided text by invoking context.measureText(text).width.

The module also has collectMaxWidthCached function which can offer a performance improvement based on the fact that grid data is often repetitive. If some string was already measured, there's no need to use canvas API again - taking the value from JavaScript Map is super quick. So unless you are extremely worried about memory limits, use the cached version.

The module exports calculateColumnWidths function which takes config object with following properties:

  • columnDefs - Array used to specify ag-Grid columns (limit this if you have hidden columns)
  • rowData - Array of grid records (limit this if you use paging or filtering)
  • measureHeaders - If true, then column headers should be taken into account (caveat: header icons are ignored)
  • headerFont - Determines column header font
  • rowFont - Determines normal grid cell font
  • padding - Additional width added to measured text (you need to choose it experimentally, mind varying header icons).
  • cache - JS Map used for speed boost (length of each unique non-header text is measured only once), pass null to skip caching.

Below is an example of button's click handler from my demo app what uses calculateColumnWidths:

const handleResizeWithCustomClick = () => {
    console.time('Resize all columns (including widths calculation)');

    if (gridApi && gridColumnApi) {
        // Here ALL columns and rows are used because there are no hidden columns
        // and the grid has neither paging nor filtering enabled!
        const updatedColumDefs = calculateColumnWidths({
            columnDefs,
            rowData,
            measureHeaders: true,
            headerFont: 'bold 12px Arial',
            rowFont: 'normal 12px Arial',
            padding: 30,
            cache: useWidthsCache ? textWidthsCache : null
        });

        // Setting width by setColumnWidth has the advantage of preserving column
        // changes done by user such as sorting or filters. The disadvantage is that
        // initial resize might be slow if the grid was scrolled towards later columns
        // before resizing was invoked (bug in the gird?).
        // Resize by gridApi.setColumnDefs(updatedColumDefs) or setColumnDefs(updatedColumDefs)
        // should be faster but columns settings could be reset (mind deltaColumnMode)...      
        updatedColumDefs.forEach(def => gridColumnApi.setColumnWidth(def.field, def.width));
    }

    console.timeEnd('Resize all columns (including widths calculation)');
};

Notice how setColumnWidth from ag-Grid Column API is used to apply calculated width. Mind the comments about paging/filtering and the difference between using setColumnWidth and calling Grid API setColumnDefs or updating state bound to grid's columnDefs property...

Demo App

The app uses React 16.13.1 and ag-Grid Community 23.0.1 (I've tested it in Chrome 80, Firefox 74, Edge 44).
Clone the repo, do npm install and npm start to run the app locally (just like with any other thing started with create-react-app)...

Usage

Click on "Generate data (100 rows with 300 columns)" button to create 30K grid cells. You should then click the "Resize columns with columnApi.autoSizeColumns" button and scroll to the right to notice that only visible columns were resized:

Resizing by autoSizeColumns... Click to enlarge...

Now reload the page, click data generation again and press "Resize columns with custom text measure" and scroll the gird horizontally. You should notice that all columns were resized:

Resizing by measureText... Click to enlarge...

Clicking resizing button the second time should give you better performance because of text measure caching and because ag-Grid itself has less work to do. These are the timings from Chrome:

Resizing perfromance in Chrome... Click to enlarge...

I would say that 100ms for 30K cell measure is quite fast! With caching, it drops to 5ms! You may also notice that most of the time is not really spent in my text measuring function but in the ag-Grid which handles columns resize.

I've noticed one weird performance issue: if you scroll to the right of the grid before clicking the resize button, the time spent by ag-Grid handling columnApi.autoSizeColumns calls increases significantly. Doing bulk resize with gridApi.setColumnDefs or by updating array used in for columnDefs property solves the performance issue at the cost of column settings reset (exact behavior depends on deltaColumnMode)...

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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Technical Blog
Posted 29 Mar 2020

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