Intelligent Select Box Filtering

Published July 16, 2010 by saurav.roy.

One of the great things about building websites for a living is the challenges tend to change from day to day. There’s always a new puzzle to solve.

Take today, for example. I was building a page that contained a series of select (dropdown) boxes. Now, I’ve been around the block once or twice before, and this wasn’t my first time using selects. However, this implementation came with a unique twist: all the boxes contained the exact same options, but we only wanted each to be selectable once. Specifically, each box contained a list of security questions — your mom’s best friend’s grandmother’s maiden name, that sort of thing.

The code looks something like this:

<select class="security" name="security1">
	<option value="0">Select a question.</option>
	<option value="1">Who's your daddy?</option>
	<option value="2">What's your favorite color?</option>
	<option value="3">What time is it?</option>
<select class="security" name="security2">
	<option value="0">Select a question.</option>
	<option value="1">Who's your daddy?</option>
	<option value="2">What's your favorite color?</option>
	<option value="3">What time is it?</option>

Now, naturally, we want the user to select several different security questions. But what’s to stop them from selecting the same question several times? Well, in our case, back-end validation… but I wanted to solve the problem before we got to that point. I wanted to eliminate “selected” questions from all the other dropdown boxes, so it wouldn’t even be an option. This has the added benefit of shortening the list of options as the user goes along, which would make scanning the options easier. Read On…

Cross-Browser Rounded Buttons with CSS3 and jQuery

Published April 22, 2010 by saurav.roy.

So here’s the scenario: I was tasked with replacing several dozen Photoshop-generated rounded buttons for a larger site with an HTML/CSS/JS equivalent. Prior, any time anyone wanted to change text on a button (and it seemed to happen often), a graphic designer had to fire up Photoshop, modify a file, adjust for size, output an image, and pass that file off to the person building the page. It was an involved process for something that should have been simple.

So let’s make it simple!

Right away I knew that I wanted to present as simple a solution for the developer as I could. I didn’t want to force them to use tons of extra markup in their HTML to pull this trick off. This was a piece of cake in modern browsers, as you’ll see in a moment. Unfortunately, this site also has a large IE user base, so I needed to account for less-modern browsers as well.

Border-Radius for Those Who Can

I decided I wanted to use border-radius for the rounded buttons for any browsers that could support it. I also decided that I wanted to create a single class, “button,” for any buttons, and it should work more-or-less the same on anchor tags, button tags, and “submit-type input tags. Read On…

Running jQuery with Other Frameworks Via noConflict

Published July 7, 2009 by saurav.roy.

Photo "Chess" by Romainguy. Used under a Creative Commons license.

While jQuery is certainly a popular JavaScript framework, it’s by no means the only game in town. Other frameworks such as Prototype, MooTools, Dojo and many others all have their own strengths, weaknesses, and devoted groupies.

Generally speaking, these frameworks all play well together — you can mix and match framework functionality to your heart’s content, as long as you don’t mind the additional overhead of loading several libraries simultaneously. So you have a calendar widget in jQuery that you love, but you’re already using Prototype to animate your navigation bar? Don’t be shy… use both!

Of course, every once in a while you can run in to problems when combining JS frameworks — particularly (in my experience) when combining jQuery and Prototype. Luckily, jQuery was kind enough to provide us with a workaround. Read On…

Using JavaScript to Style Active Navigation Elements

Published April 28, 2009 by saurav.roy.

active navigation element

I’m all about efficiency when I’m writing web code. Any time I find myself writing the same functionality more than once or twice, I try to consider whether my repeated code could be wrapped into a function of some sort.

Navigation is often one of those areas where I try to improve my efficiency. I like my navigation elements to pull double duty. I want them to:

  1. Show the user where they can go, and
  2. Show the user where they currently are.

In other words, I want some sort of visual indication in my navigation that shows my user which section of my site they’re in. You can see this on the CSS Newbie site: if you click on the TOC (Table of Contents) link in the bar at the top of the page, you’ll see that link gets special styling when the table of content loads.

Now, I could manually set this on every page using a CSS class. But that’s inefficient — depending on the size of my site, I could end up writing dozens or hundreds of lines of one-off code. And why go to all that work, when you could just wrap it all up into a nice JavaScript function? Read On…