Making a jQuery Plugin Truly Customizable

Most if not all of the jQuery plugins out there have some level of customization. But very few of the plugin authors have mastered the very particular art involved.

Achieving the “optimum level” of customization is a bit of a balancing act… go too far either way and you’ve got an unusable plugin!

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Implementing Prototype’s Array Methods in jQuery

One of the biggest concerns I’ve heard mentioned from users of the Prototype library about jQuery is the lack of support for various array methods. The robust features Prototype provides for arrays is of great benefit to developers that do a lot of array manipulation in their JavaScript.

However, I find that after moving to jQuery, I do less array manipulation than I had done with Prototype. Perhaps jQuery has altered my development pattern so I no longer need array manipulation, or perhaps I have shifted most of my data manipulation to the server. Whatever the case, I have only on occasion missed the Prototype array methods.

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Peeling Away the jQuery Wrapper and Finding an Array

If you haven’t poked around under the hood of jQuery, you might not be aware that when you pass the jQuery function an expression or DOM element it places these elements (or, possibly a single element) into an object, and then this object is returned so that it can be chained. Without getting into the details of chaining, the fundamental concept to remember is this:

Most jQuery methods return the jQuery object itself, which allows methods to be chained.

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Working with Events, part 2

In my last article, I described the common problem of events seemingly ceasing to work for new elements added to a document, whether by some form of ajax or by DOM modification. We examined one way to overcome the problem: Event Delegation. With event delegation, we bind the event handler to a containing element that remains in the DOM and then check for the target of the event.

Cloning Nodes

This time, we’ll take a look at re-binding event handlers. But before we do, I should mention that, as of jQuery version 1.2, event handlers can be cloned along with elements. Consider this unordered list:

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A Plugin Development Pattern

I’ve been developing jQuery plugins for quite a while now, and I’ve become rather comfortable with a particular style of plugin development for my scripts. This article is meant to share the pattern that I’ve found especially useful for plugin authoring. It assumes you already have an understanding of plugin development for jQuery; if you’re a novice plugin author, please review the jQuery Authoring Guidelines first.

There are a few requirements that I feel this pattern handles nicely:

  1. Claim only a single name in the jQuery namespace
  2. Accept an options argument to control plugin behavior
  3. Provide public access to default plugin settings
  4. Provide public access to secondary functions (as applicable)
  5. Keep private functions private
  6. Support the Metadata Plugin

I’ll cover these requirements one by one, and as we work through them we’ll build a simple plugin which highlights text.

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Selecting Elements by Properties and DOM Expandos

Sometimes it is very convenient to store information on an element by using custom properties (DOM Expandos). For example, I use DOM Expandos in my Mouse Wheel plugin to store an array of handler methods (_mwHandlers) along with a method (_mwHandler) to call all those handlers when the mouse wheel is used. Storing these methods on the element allows me to write less code, and manage scope easier. It also gives me a function reference for easy removal when needed.

Now, what if I needed to select all elements that have a mouse wheel handler on them?

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