jQuery + CSS + XHTML = Jappler Menus v2

Previously – I introduced a nice way to create drop down menus using HTML (lists), Javascript (drop down), and CSS (styling of menu). I put all of this together and called it: Jappler Menus. (See previous post about Jappler Menus).

Since writing that post – I have found a better, faster, cleaner way to work with drop down menus. I had originally seen some nice menus: http://help-developer.com and decided with some changes – that would be a much nicer way to work with menus. For this – I give you Jappler Menus version 2.

Here is an example of Jappler Menus in action: http://jappler.com/downloads/jappler-menus_v2/

There are 3 main components to the Jappler menus: HTML, Javascript (jQuery), and CSS.

  1. The HTML to generate the menu contents. All you need to use to create the menu is create a simple HTML list:
    <ul>
    	<li><a href="#">Home</a></li>
    	<li><a href="#">About Us</a>
    		<ul>
    			<li><a href="#">Our Story</a></li>
    			<li><a href="#">Our Clients</a></li>
    			<li><a href="#">Our Philosophy</a></li>
    		</ul>
    	</li>
    	<li><a href="#">Our Products</a>
    		<ul>
    		       <li><a href="#">WordPress Themes</a></li>
    		       <li><a href="#">WordPress Plugins</a></li>
    		       <li><a href="#">WordPress Consultation</a></li>
    	         </ul>
    	</li>
    	<li><a href="#">HOWTOs</a>
    		<ul>
    			<li><a href="#">bbPress</a></li>
    		        <li><a href="#">WordPress</a></li>
    		        <li><a href="#">General</a>
    		        	<ul>
    					<li><a href="#">CSS</a></li>
    					<li><a href="#">XHTML</a></li>
    					<li><a href="#">Javascript</a></li>
    				</ul>
    			</li>
    	         </ul>
    	</li>
    	<li><a href="#">Archives</a></li>
    	<li><a href="#">RSS Feed</a></li>
    </ul>
    
  2. The javascript that makes the drop downs fade in and out. This uses jQuery and then some custom JS that takes care of our menu:
    function japplerMenu(){
    $(" #navigation ul ").css({display: "none"}); // Opera Fix
    $(" #navigation li").hover(function(){
    		$(this).find('ul:first').css({visibility: "visible",display: "none"}).fadeIn(200);
    		},function(){
    		$(this).find('ul:first').css({visibility: "hidden"});
    		});
    }
    
     $(document).ready(function(){
    	japplerMenu();
    });
    

    }

  3. The CSS to make things look pretty.Here is the custom CSS that is needed:
    #mainNav {height:30px;background: url('images/mainNav_bg.gif') repeat-x;width:623px;}
    
    #navigation, #navigation ul{position:relative;z-index:1000;list-style-type:none;list-style-position:outside;margin:0;padding:0;}
    
    #navigation a {display:block;padding:0 20px 0 20px;font-size:1.1em;font-weight:bold;color:#fff;text-decoration:none;line-height:30px;}
    
    #navigation li:hover {background: url('images/mainNav_bg-over.gif') repeat-x;}
    #navigation li:hover a {color:#fff;}
    
    #navigation li{float:left;position:relative;}
    
    #navigation ul {width:165px;position:absolute;left:-1px;top:29px;display:none;background:#f1f4f2;border:1px solid #4b4d5b;border-bottom:none;}
    
    #navigation li:hover li a {color:#333;}
    
    #navigation li ul a {float:left;width:155px;line-height:normal;font-weight:normal;font-size:.95em;text-align:left;border-bottom:1px solid #4b4d5b;background:#f1f4f2;height:auto;padding:5px;}
    #navigation li ul a:hover {background:#a4a5a9;color:#000;}
    
    #navigation ul ul{top:auto;}
    
    #navigation li ul ul {left:160px;margin:0;}
    
    #navigation li:hover ul ul, #navigation li:hover ul ul ul, #navigation li:hover ul ul ul ul{display:none;}
    #navigation li:hover ul, #navigation li li:hover ul, #navigation li li li:hover ul, #navigation li li li li:hover ul{display:block;}
    
    
    

    There is also some additional CSS for IE 6. (See IE 6 specific CSS). You can add some conditional logic to include this for only IE 6 (See the example source above – look in the header for the conditional code.)

These menus are compatible with IE 6+, Safari 2+, Opera 9+, and FF 2+. If you want it to work in IE 6 – I have a start on some CSS that will make it work.

Always Use a Doctype

After spending an hour on something that should have taken me 20 minutes – I wanted to pass on something I should have caught right away. The problem: you use CSS to lay something out and it looks great in Firefox and Safari – but not in IE. At this point I validate the CSS to make sure I did not forget a bracket or something stupid. Next step – validate the XHTML. This is where I would have solved my problem, but I failed to take this step. At that point I would have seen that the script I was working with did not have a doctype defined. Once I added in the doctype – everything loaded as expected and I could not believe I missed something so basic. Lesson learned – and hopefully you will know now as well to make sure a doctype is always set.

Sliding Doors + Sons of Suckerfish = Jappler Menus!

There have been two great menu and navigation techniques I have used over the last few years:

  1. Sliding Doors of CSS
  2. Sons of Suckerfish (for drop down menus)

I have used both of these techniques on several web sites, but crazily not together…until a week ago when a client decided they wanted to move away from their antiquated menus that relied on hundreds of lines of javascript, HTML tables, and over 40 image files (for seven tabs). This technique works in IE 6, IE 7, Firefox, and Safari.

After I had put the code into place I thought it might be helpful for others to see exactly how it is done. These techniques give you a lot of flexibility with very lightweight code.

Code/Files Needed

  1. Two tab images (left and right, with both an active and hover (highligted) option
  2. Sub-menu arrow (not required)
  3. Sons of Suckerfish javascript
  4. CSS for both the drop downs and the sliding doors techniques
  5. Menu list code (your menu items)

Two tab images
The sliding door technique is great because you do not need to make tab specific images, nor do you need to worry about the tab length – it is all taken care of by two images and some CSS. For this example, I am going to use two basic tab images that I quickly created for this example:

  1. Left
  2. Right

Sub-menu arrow (not required)
If you want to easily let your visitors know you have a sub-menu within your menus, add in a sub-menu arrow.

Sons of Suckerfish javascript
After years of using nasty javascript – it is refreshing to see that this technique only requires a few lines of javascript (check out the javascript).

CSS for both the drop downs and the sliding doors techniques
The CSS for the drop down menus and the tabbed navigation is pretty slick (check out the CSS).

Menu list code (your menu items)
The menu list code is the actual menus/tabs. The code can be dynamically created by using something like wp_list_pages() in WordPress, or you can create the code yourself. I have created some sample code for this example.

Everything put together
Now that you have an understanding of all the files and code involved, let’s see everything put together This is a very good way to have sustainable code/files for a small or large web site when dealing with navigation.

Questions, comments? Contact me!