jQuery-Based Popout Ad: Part 3

Published October 1, 2008 by saurav.roy.

Note: Part 1 of this series is available here, and you can read part 2 here. I’d recommend reading both of those articles before continuing on to this one.

The previous article in this series explained how to take CSS- and XHTML-based advertisement we’d developed and animate it using the jQuery JavaScript library. Today, we’re going to expand our jQuery a bit to make our ad a little bit more user-friendly (if an ad can ever be said to be user-friendly, that is).

We’re going to expand our functionality in two important ways. First, we’ll give the popout a memory: when the user closes the ad, it will remain closed for a predetermined number of days, unless they choose to open it again. And second, we’ll allow the user to open and close the ad by clicking the permanent sidebar cap. And before I get started, I’d like to point out that these two examples are really expandable to countless practical uses — don’t feel limited just because I’m talking about a popout here!

Remembering the User

The only practical way to remember whether the user has opened or closed our ad across multiple visits is by using a browser cookie. I’ve written about setting browser cookies here before, and I’ll be honest – it’s a tedious process writing the code to make the magic happen. However, because we’re already using the jQuery framework, our job is about to get a heck of a lot easier.

jQuery does not come with built-in cookie-setting functionality, which is a rather large shortcoming in my opinion. Luckily, jQuery has a rather active community behind it, and a nice man by the name of Klaus Hartl has released a jQuery cookie plugin. All we need to do is include the link to the plugin in the head of our document, underneath our call to the jQuery library, like so:

<script language="javascript" src="/js/jquery/jquery.js"></script>
<script language="javascript" src="/js/jquery/jquery.cookie.js"></script>

And voila! Cookies have suddenly gotten a whole lot easier. You’ll see just how easy in a moment.

So how are we going to use these cookies? Well, what makes the most sense to me (and you’re welcome to suggest alternatives) is this: whenever the user closes the ad box, we’ll set a cookie indicating this. If the user opens the ad box again, we’ll delete the cookie. When we load the page, we’ll simply check to see if our cookie is set: if not, we’ll open the ad; if so, we’ll leave the ad closed.

First up, let’s give our cookie a name. For consistency’s sake, I’m going to define the name at the top of my $(document).ready function, along with the other variables:

var popOut = "#popout";
var adBox = "#adbox";
var adWidth = $(adBox).width() + $("#cap").width();
var adCookie = "ad-example";

In this example, I’m calling my cookie “ad-example,” but you could really name it whatever you wanted.

Next, we’ll have to edit our openAd and closeAd functions that we developed in the last article to accommodate the setting and un-setting of cookies. Our openAd function now looks like this:

function openAd() {
	$(popOut).width(adWidth+"px");
	$(adBox).animate({marginLeft: "0"},1200)
	$.cookie(adCookie, null);
}

You’ll note the new line at the bottom. What we’re doing here is calling the cookie function that is included in the plugin we’re using. After the user opens the ad, we look for any cookies named whatever we selected at the top of the document. If one exists, we set it to “null,” effectively destroying it.

Next up, we have the closeAd function:

function closeAd() {
	$(adBox).animate({marginLeft: "-"+adWidth+"px"},1200,"linear",
		function(){ $(popOut).width($("#cap").width() + "px"); }
	);
	$.cookie(adCookie,'closed',{expires: 28});
}

Again, we’re only adding a single line to our code. You can see how easy this is compared to writing your own JavaScript cookie function! This time, after the ad has successfully closed, we’re setting a cookie. We’re giving it a name of whatever we determined at the top of the function (“ad-example,” in our case), giving it a value of “closed,” and setting the cookie to expire in 28 days (four weeks). You could choose whatever duration you felt appropriate here.

And finally, we’ll want to alter the last line in our $(document).ready function, the one that opens the ad when the page loads. The line that opens the ad will now read like this:

if(!$.cookie(adCookie)) {
	$(popOut).animate({opacity: 1.0}, 1500, "linear", openAd);
}

All we’ve done is wrap our animation function in an if statement. If the cookie does not exist (the exclamation point at the beginning of our if statement means “if the following is not true…”), we will execute the animation we built last time. But if there is a cookie set (meaning the user has chosen to close the ad), we don’t animate our ad — meaning it remains hidden off the edge of our page by our CSS.

Developing Click Logic

Next up, we want to alter the click logic on the ad cap — if the ad is closed, a click should open it. But if it’s already open, the ad should close when the user clicks. This increases the odds the user will be able to get rid of the ad when they wish, which is an important usability feature in my mind.

To do this, we’ll need to edit the click function set on our cap. But how do we know if the ad should be opened or closed? Easy: we just set a cookie that will give us the answer we need. If the user clicks on the cap and a cookie is already set, that means the ad is currently closed, so we should open it back up. Otherwise, if no cookie is set, that means our ad is already open. A click at that point should close our ad instead.

Because we went to the trouble of developing functions to open and close our ad, our code change is pretty simple. We just edit the cap’s click functionality like so:

$("#open").click(function() {
	if(!$.cookie(adCookie)) {
		closeAd();
	} else {				   
		openAd();
	}
	return false;
});

All it takes is a simple if-else statement. If the cookie isn’t set, close the ad. Otherwise, open the ad like we would have originally.

And with those changes, we have now developed a popout box that is simultaneously eye-catching and user-friendly. Here’s the JavaScript in its entirety:

$(document).ready(function() {
	var popOut = "#popout";
	var adBox = "#adbox";
	var adWidth = $(adBox).width() + $("#cap").width();
	var adCookie = "ad-example";

	function openAd() {
		$(popOut).width(adWidth+"px");
		$(adBox).animate({marginLeft: "0"},1200)
		$.cookie(adCookie, null);
	}
	
	function closeAd() {
		$(adBox).animate({marginLeft: "-"+adWidth+"px"},1200,"linear",
			function(){ $(popOut).width($("#cap").width() + "px"); }
		);
		$.cookie(adCookie,'closed',{expires: 28});
	}

	$("#open").click(function() {
		if(!$.cookie(adCookie)) {
			closeAd();
		} else {				   
			openAd();
		}
		return false;
	});
	$("#close").click(function() {
		closeAd();
		return false;
	});	
	
	if(!$.cookie(adCookie)) {
		$(popOut).animate({opacity: 1.0}, 1500, "linear", openAd);
	}
});

And you can see a working example of our ad here. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please leave a comment and I will do my best to address them.

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