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Monday, November 29, 2004

Updated Mouseover DOM Inspector

New at SlayerOffice is an update to the Mouseover DOM Inspector, a tool that I’ve found increasingly useful in debugging my sites:

This update adds the ability to freeze the info box by hitting the “up” arrow, which then allows you to mouseover the parent node hierarchy and view the data associated with each element in a seperate info box. The parent elements will be highlighted in a lighter shade of gray. Hit the “esc” key to turn off the secondary box and return the application to its default behavior.

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Slider: Graphic sliders in DHTML

I just ran across Slider, a project from WebFX that displays graphical slider controls (like those you find in an audio player application) on a Web page. It supports most browsers and degrades into a numeric input for those without basic DOM support.

There’s a good deal of documentation to go with it, including details on Implementation and full details for the API functions. If you just want to see some sliders in action, check out the demo page. Follow the download link at the bottom of this page to download it in ZIP format and use it on your own site.

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Handy JavaScript References

I was browsing my bookmarks and ran across a useful JavaScript resource that hasn’t appeared here yet. JavaScript Reference is a series of quick reference cards for JavaScript, packed with information and example syntax. Perhaps a bit too much information, since they’re a bit cluttered for my taste, but they’re quite popular so don’t listen to my opinion. This comes from VisiBone, and they make a series of nice paper versions that I intend to order and review.

My current favorite paper JavaScript reference is JavaScript Pocket Reference, 2nd Edition from O’Reilly. It has good coverage of the language and the DOM, as well as event handlers and just about everything else. I keep it on my desk with an assortment of their other references (CSS, HTML, PHP, MySQL…) and reach for it frequently.

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XMLHttpRequest Tutorial

Since I’ve been researching remote scripting and the XMLHttpRequest method, here’s a link to one of  the more useful resources on the topic. Using the XML HTTP Request Object by Jim Ley gives explanations, code examples, and ways of dealing with the different ways this technique works in different browsers.

I’m working on a couple of examples of this technique myself and will post them soon.

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Sunday, November 28, 2004

FileManager 1.2.3

Another scarily complex use of JavaScript: FileManager 1.2.3 is an online file manager application. It uses JavaScript and XUL for the front end and ASP (or PHP) for the server side. XUL is the XML-based user-interface language used to define the Mozilla user interface, so this example won’t work on a non-Mozilla-based browser. Firefox 1.0 works wonderfully.

You can try the file manager online. The file manager lets you create folders, move and copy files, and even create and edit text files with a simple text editor. It’s not by any means secure, so don’t put it on your server without some thought for security.

[via SitePoint’s PHP Blog]

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Accessible and Usable Forms

Here’s another good set of guidelines on creating accessible and usable forms, from Mike Foskett at webSemantics. It’s coded with letters to indicate whether each item relates to usability, accessibility, or (UK) legal issues.

It includes a variety of examples of JavaScript tricks for improving usability, such as highlighting the border of required fields when you click on them or automatically selecting a field’s contents when it has focus. I also like the expandable help displayed with DHTML in the Contact Form example.

[via 456 Berea Street]

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ActiveWidgets Grid

As a followup to my old post on sorting tables with JavaScript, here’s another alternative: ActiveWidgets Grid 1.0 is a JavaScript grid control that you can drop into your own pages easily. You specify the data in an array, then use the object to display the sortable table.

The best free cross-browser scrolling datagrid control! Hand-made with 100% client-side JavaScript/DHTML, provides clean separation between data models, presentation templates and control behavior, plus professional look-and-feel and high interactivity.

See the detailed example here to find out how to use the grid, or view the detailed documentation. The source code is available under GPL and you can download it from the SourceForge page.

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Saturday, November 27, 2004

Friday Fun: The Fridge

Each Friday I take a moment to spotlight one of the less practical and more frivolous uses of JavaScript. This week’s entry is appearing on Saturday due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Now that nothing remains of the celebration but leftover turkey in the fridge, on to business.

Speaking of bad segues, The Fridge is an online equivalent of the magnetic poetry craze of a few years ago. An assortment of “magnets” containing words are displayed, and you can drag and drop them to form poetry or randomness. While silliness of this magnitude would normally require Java or Shockwave or Flash, The Fridge is all done in DHTML. A cool feature is the ability to select your own words from a web page. Here’s a JavaScript Fridge for your semi-enjoyment.

Oh, speaking of Thanksgiving—I’d like to thank the many readers of this site for encouraging me to keep it up, and especially those who have sent comments, tips or corrections. Keep ‘em coming!

[via MetaFilter]

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JPSpan 0.4 - remote scripting made easy

Harry Fuecks at SitePoint’s PHP Blog has released version 0.4 of JPSpan. Formerly known as ScriptServer, JPSpan is a PHP library that simplifies the use of remote scripting with JavaScript:

JPSpan provides tools to “hook up” PHP and Javascript, for the purpose of fetching data from PHP into a web page which has already loaded, without reloading the entire page… The objective is to make connecting a Javascript client with a PHP server as painless and error-free as possible.

I’ve been following JPSpan for a while, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here. I’m trying to learn more about it now for a project, and the JPSpan Wiki is coming in handy.

JPSpan uses XMLHttpRequest, a not-quite-standard but nonetheless useful feature of Internet Explorer, Mozilla-based browsers, and Konqueror. I’ll be posting more about XMLHttpRequest and JPSpan as I delve further into it.

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Friday, November 26, 2004

DHTML image transitions

If you’re sick of boring old image-changing rollover effects, check out the three image transition scripts using DHTML at brothercake. These should be good for banner ads, photo slideshows, and any number of other effects.

These three scripts provide a range of cross-browser fade and wipe transitions, centered around an image change. They can be used to add a touch of class to regular image swaps, or possibly as components to more complex DHTML effects.

[via Mezzoblue]

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