Slideshow Loading Problems Solved in jQuery Cycle

When it comes to JavaScript components that act on elements of the page, it is highly important to have those elements in place before the script tries to manipulate them, else things won’t work as intended. So, that begs the question, “What’s the best way to have JavaScript run on my page?” In this example we’ll focus on handling javascript while making slideshows with the jQuery Cycle plugin.

At any rate we want our pages to be seen by the visitor right away. We know if it takes more than a couple of seconds for anything to appear on the screen, the visitor is likely to click away to another site. Remember, text appears quickly when it’s not part of a table. The whole table has to be ready before you’ll see the table, so don’t use tables for design purposes, especially nested tables. Save your tables for presenting data.

A problem with big pages having slideshows is that if the page is not ready when a script tries to manipulate things, the effects may be all wrong. For example, when a script calculates the center position for an image it may get the positioning wrong, especially if all the images in the slideshow are not of the same size.

So, how do we improve our slideshow for the masses? We need to tell the javascript when to do its magic. In this example we’ll use this approach:

  1. Perform initial actions with the .ready() method. Actions in this case are to hide images with the .hide() method until they are called for by the script.
  2. Run the slideshow after the content has loaded with the .load() method.
  3. Use a function to calculate the center for each image.
  4. Apply the function with the before option in jQuery Cycle.

A previous post on centering slideshows with jQuery Cycle put all the javascript inside a .ready() statement. For many scripts this would be just fine, but for the slideshow it resulted in the action starting up before all the images were available.

For this example the slideshow is marked up as a group of images inside a <div> that has been assigned an id for JS targeting, #big_show, and a class for CSS targeting, .photos.

HTML Markup:

one two three four

Hide Images While Page Loads

Because it may take a while to load up all the photos for the slideshow, and everything else on the page, hide the photos except for the first one to start. Use a .ready() statement to hide the photos because we want to do that right away. Put everything in the .ready() method that you want to run first, even before the rest of the page or content has loaded. The .ready() function is a jQuery construct that allows you to bring functionality to the page before all the content has loaded. That way a page with lot of images can be useful even before all the images are visible.

For hiding images use the .ready() function so that this task will occur as soon as possible.

Many selectors could be used to target the first element in a series and the example above shows three ways of doing so for three different slideshows, #s1, #s2 and #s3. The outcome of each is the same in that only the first image is shown until the rest of the slideshow is loaded.

Control Slideshow Action After Window Loads

It makes sense to run a slideshow only when all the components for the show are present. To do that run Cycle with a .load() statement so that the slideshow waits to start until all of the images are loaded.

If you have a big slide show with lots of images, you might want to present an animated loading image until the slideshow starts.

Calculate Image Size for Centering in Slideshow

Take a look at the solution provided by “malsup” for users of his Cycle plugin:

Basically, what his code is doing is creating a function that will run before any slides are manipulated by Cycle. The purpose of the onBefore function is to calculate the correct margins for images and set the CSS parameters margin-top and margin-left for centering the images.

The onBefore function creates a variable called $slide to hold an array of the parameters of the $(next) element in the slideshow. The variables w and h are set to the width and height of said element via the $slide.outerWidth() and $slide.outerHeight() methods, respectively.

Finally, the margins are calculated from knowing the width and height of the slide container as set in the CSS (in this example 400 px and 300 px) and subtracting the slide’s width (w) and height (h) values, respectively. The margins only need to have half of the total margin value to accommodate both sides of the box, so the difference is divided by 2.

Use Cycle’s Before Option to Apply Centering Function

Using the onBefore function with Cycle’s before option works beautifully with images of different sizes, see line 5 of the .load() method above. Margins are set using the .css() method after they are calculated by the onBefore function.

CSS:

#big_show { 
    height: 400px; 
    width: 300px; 
    text-align: center;  
    background-color: #f3c; 
}
.photos img { 
    margin: 0;
    padding: 4px; 
    border: 1px solid #ccc; 
    background-color: #eee; 
    max-width: 290px; 
    max-height: 390px; 
}

You have to specify some CSS to get this thing to work right, namely set the width and height on the slide container and slides themselves.

Setting the max-width and max-height for the images helps to keep them inside of the container. Note that adding up the padding and border for both sides of the box is 10 px of the slideshow box that can’t be used to show an image. Therefore, the maximum image dimensions are the overall width or height minus 10 px. By accounting for the padding and border sizes a large image won’t overflow its container.

Any comments on this improved slideshow using Cycle plugin with jQuery?

Polaroid Slideshows with jQuery Cycle Plugin

The Cycle plugin for jQuery has many options that can be modified to create stunning slideshows. The look and feel of the slideshows are controlled with CSS and the behavior or animation of the slides is controlled by JavaScript. The Cycle plugin requires jQuery v1.3.2 or later.

Polaroid Photos

Sometimes you want to have a little fun with a project, like when somebody brings a Polaroid camera to a party. Taking Polaroid snapshots became wildly popular in the 1970s because it was the only camera that would produce a hand-held photo on the fly. All the other cameras had film that you would need to finish taking pictures on, and then send in to a photo developer to expose the negatives and print the photos. Polaroid cameras were like the iPhones of the 70s, and due to that popularity everybody knew what a Polaroid was — an instant photo.

Polaroid photos looked a little different from photo developer developed photos. They were always glossy and of a different format than the typical 3 1/2 inch tall x 4 7/8 inch wide snapshot that you’d get from the photo shop. With or without a border, the images on photo shop developed prints were rectangular, not square.

Polaroid cameras are still around today and their photos measure 3.5 inches wide by 4.25 inches tall. A white border around the image measures approximately 0.25 inch at the top, 0.1875 inch on the sides, and 0.875 inch at the bottom. The bottom border is larger so that you can write a caption there. Subtracting the size of the borders from the overall dimensions leaves 3.125 inches for the inner width and 3.125 inches for the inner height of the photographic image. Thus, Polaroid images are square instead of the standard rectangular format common in other photos.

Styling the Polaroid Photo

We can use CSS to make our images look like Polaroids. Introduce a dark, thin border and some padding for each image. In this case we’ll target the slides with the class .polaroid. Note that the container size may have to be enlarged to accommodate the padding and border from both sides of the image. This is especially important when all the images are not of the same dimensions.

CSS:

#slide_polaroid {
margin:10px;
z-index:3;
}
#write_caption {
position:relative;
top:-40px;
left:100px;
z-index:4;
}
.polaroid img {
padding:18px 14px 33px 14px;
}
.polaroid {
width:200px;
height:200px;
background-color:#fcfcfc;
color:#000;
padding:18px 14px 63px 14px;
border:1px solid #000;
position:relative;
}

The jQuery Cycle plugin is used to control the slideshow action. A function is called after each slide is shown on the screen to print the image alt text for the slideshow image captions.

JavaScript:

Output:

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two
three
four

We’re getting close with the above, but a little better slideshow effect would be to bring the whole polaroid through the effect, not just the inner square image.

This brings up one of the nice features of using jQuery Cycle for slideshows: any content can be used for the slides. That means a <div> containing an image and textual content — such as a caption — could be identified as slides.

Polaroid Slideshow

For this example each image and caption is wrapped in a <div>, and Cycle is called like so:

HTML:

one

Slide 1 caption.

two

Slide 2 caption.

three

Slide 3 caption.

four

Slide 4 caption.

JavaScript:

Output:

one

Slide 1 caption.

two

Slide 2 caption.

three

Slide 3 caption.

four

Slide 4 caption.

This slideshow hard codes captions in the HTML instead of displaying the image alt text dynamically. It just depends on the purpose of the slideshow and how many slides you have as to which approach you’ll use for captions.

Styling Double Mat Framed Prints

Give your slides the look of double matted, framed photos with a little CSS and a different special fx.

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three
four

Here, the .frame class is set to “ridge” for the <div> and <img> border properties using slightly different colors to make a double matted picture frame look. Black and grey backgrounds and a small amount of padding serves as the mat boards for the illusion. The JavaScript Cycle fx parameter is set to “fade” for the slideshow.

How To Turn On JavaScript

Need instructions to enable JavaScript for popular browsers? Here’s how to activate javascript in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Chrome and iPhone browsers with simple step-by-step instructions for PC and MAC users.

Just before the closing body tag, don’t forget to put a set of <noscript> tag with some content telling the user what’s up. What follows is a suggestion that directs the user on how to improve their system. Another approach would be to offer alternative content that doesn’t require any scripts.

<noscript>

Hello! To see all the cool effects on this page, you need to activate JavaScript in your browser. JavaScript is required for interacting with many of today’s top Internet sites, so you may need to know how to turn javascript on. The directions are slightly different depending on which browser software you use.

Visit activatejavascript.org for directions on how to activate javascript. If javascript is not enabled in your browser, a message will appear at the top of the screen: Your JavaScript is disabled!. Follow the directions to activate javascript for the browser and operating system that you’re using. Javascript will be enabled the next time you start the browser.

If the software that you’re using to view sites on the Internet doesn’t have javascript capability, try another more modern browser, like Firefox. PC, MAC and mobile versions of Firefox are available for free download at http://www.mozilla.org/.

</noscript>

Slideshow Image Captions with jQuery Cycle

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a photo slideshow would be worth a whole book. Images can be interpreted in many ways and without some accompanying text or captions for the images in a slide show, you force the visitor to draw their own conclusions about what they are viewing. In the art world this may be ok and perhaps what you’re striving for, but most of the time we want to provide additional information with images so the visitor really knows what the imagery is all about.

Some images are fairly meaningless without captions. Were those pictures taken before or after the event? And is that really Aunt Tillie as a hip youngster?! You get the idea…captions help us to tell our stories. They can be as short and sweet as you like or more explanatory in nature. It just depends on your purpose as to what kinds of captions your visitors would benefit from.

Presented here are three examples for producing image captions in slideshows with jQuery Cycle.

To make an image caption for jQuery Cycle slideshows, the examples that follow depend on passing selectors, like this.alt, to the .html() method to pick up the alt text from each <img>. Also, we’re going to use Cycle’s after and before options to specify our image captions.

Example 1: Use Cycle’s after option to specify a caption using the image’s alt text. Caption will appear after the slide is in place.

Here, the after option takes the result of an anonymous function as its value. The function() inserts the alt text from this, the current image, into #caption. In the HTML markup below notice that #caption identifies a paragraph below the images.

Example 1 HTML Markup:

one two three four

Example 1 Slideshow:

one
two
three
four

 

Example 2: Use Cycle’s before option to specify a caption using the image’s alt text. Caption will appear before the next slide.

The only things changed from Example 1 are that we’re using Cycle’s before option instead of the after option and the captions are placed at the top of the images instead of below them.

Example 2 HTML Markup:

Baby Sixtoes and his brothers. Cat in a tree. Cute runaway artist. Darling kittens napping.

Example 2 Slideshow:

Baby Sixtoes and his brothers.
Missy cat in snow.
Momma cat in a tree.
Darling kittens napping.
 

Example 3: Show slide number and total count of slides in addition to the image’s alt text for a caption.

To get the slide numbers we can take advantage of a couple of variables that keep track of the current slide and the number of total slides. We’ll pass three Cycle variables (curr,next,opts) to a new function.

There’s something new going on here. A named function, slideAfter, is the value for the after option. Using a function we can make calculations and assignments to create some interesting captions. Cycle’s before option also may take a function as its value.

The function slideAfter calculates and specifies the number of the current image and the total number of slides in the slideshow. The calculated values are assigned to a variable, caption_count, which is then used as the image caption.

Example 3 HTML Markup:

Baby Sixtoes and his brothers. Missy cat in snow. Momma cat in tree. Darling kittens napping.

()

In this example #caption5 is used for CSS positioning, while #caption3 and #caption4 are targeted by the JavaScript in creating the caption.

Example 3 Slideshow:

Baby Sixtoes and his brothers.
Missy cat in snow.
Momma cat in tree.
Darling kittens napping.

  ()

 

Examples borrowed from jQuery Cycle image count caption demo.

These examples showed how to create captions for images presented in slideshows with the jQuery Cycle plugin.