How to make a collapsible split list in jQuery Mobile

Introduction:

Screen real estate is valuable, especially on a mobile device. If you have a lot of information you want to display that can be grouped under a common header / theme, a great solution is to use a collapsible listview found in the jQuery Mobile library.
 
However, what do you do when you want to combine the functionality of a collapsible list with that of something that has a common button among the list items that would allow you to edit / delete / perform some action on the list item that is common to all the items on the list (like a jQuery Mobile Split List)?
 
The following tutorial will walk you through on how to create a collapsible split list in jQuery Mobile and will utilize some custom CSS and JavaScript to get the job done.

Tutorial

Lets start off with a basic split list, taken and modified from the jQuery Mobile Listview tutorial (converted listview to split list, changes highlighted):

<ul data-role="listview" data-inset="true" data-split-icon="delete">
	<li>
		<a href="#">
			<h2>Stephen Weber</h2>
			<p><strong>You've been invited to a meeting at Filament Group in Boston, MA</strong></p>
			<p>Hey Stephen, if you're available at 10am tomorrow, we've got a meeting with the jQuery team.</p>
		</a>
		<a href="#">Delete</a>
	</li>
	<li>
		<a href="#">
			<h2>jQuery Team</h2>
			<p><strong>Boston Conference Planning</strong></p>
			<p>In preparation for the upcoming conference in Boston, we need to start gathering a list of sponsors and speakers.</p>
		</a>
		<a href="#">Delete</a>
	</li>
	<li>
		<a href="#">
			<h2>Avery Walker</h2>
			<p><strong>Re: Dinner Tonight</strong></p>
			<p>Sure, let's plan on meeting at Highland Kitchen at 8:00 tonight. Can't wait!</p>
		</a>
		<a href="#">Delete</a>
	</li>
</ul>

Using the code above, you should get something similar to the following:
(note the following is using jQuery Mobile 1.4.2 and jQuery 1.9.1, yours may look different if you’re using a different theme / version of jQuery Mobile / jQuery)
 

 
In this contrived example, that’s a decent amount of potentially useful information. However, on a mobile device, the amount that is displayed at one time is limited and if the user was looking for something at the bottom, they would have to scroll through the content of everything else. Lets add another div to enclose the content we want to hide:
(changes highlighted)

<ul data-role="listview" data-inset="true" data-split-icon="delete">
	<li>
		<a href="#">
			<h2>Stephen Weber</h2>
			<div style="display:none;">
				<p><strong>You've been invited to a meeting at Filament Group in Boston, MA</strong></p>
				<p>Hey Stephen, if you're available at 10am tomorrow, we've got a meeting with the jQuery team.</p>
			</div>
		</a>
		<a href="#">Delete</a>
	</li>
	<li>
		<a href="#">
			<h2>jQuery Team</h2>
			<div style="display:none;">
				<p><strong>Boston Conference Planning</strong></p>
				<p>In preparation for the upcoming conference in Boston, we need to start gathering a list of sponsors and speakers.</p>
			</div>
		</a>
		<a href="#">Delete</a>
	</li>
	<li>
		<a href="#">
			<h2>Avery Walker</h2>
			<div style="display:none;">
				<p><strong>Re: Dinner Tonight</strong></p>
				<p>Sure, let's plan on meeting at Highland Kitchen at 8:00 tonight. Can't wait!</p>
			</div>
		</a>
		<a href="#">Delete</a>
	</li>
</ul>

Resulting in:
 

 
The bulk of the content is gone, and the height changed from 307 px to 174 px, a difference of 133 px or ~44 px per list item. That’s a lot of recovered space…but how do we get the content back?
 
For that, we’ll need to write some custom javascript. What we need to do is target the link that was clicked, and un-hide the div that we had hidden. Luckily, this is very easy:

$(document).on("click","ul a", function(){
	$(this).children("div:last").toggle(200);
	if($(this).attr("title")) {
		console.log("clicked delete");
	} else {
		//Clicked the link to toggle the content
	}
});

Brief explanation:

$(document).on("click","ul a", function(){

This defines a function to be called whenever a link is clicked within an unordered list.

$(this).children("div:last").toggle(200);

$(this) refers to the link we’ve selected, .children(“div:last”) targets the last div element that is nested within the link (more on this in a minute), and .toggle(200) tells jQuery to hide/unhide the div, animating it over 200 ms.

if($(this).attr("title")) {

The text we put inside the link for the delete icon is used to populate the title attribute (in this case “Delete”). Since no title was supplied for the collapsible content, the title attribute will not be set, and the code within this if-statement will only be executed when the delete icon is clicked. If you provided a title attribute for the collapsible content, you could easy filter it out by doing a comparison in the if-statement.


When combined with the code above, we should get something that looks like this:
 

 
When you click on each of the list items, it’ll expand and collapse, displaying and hiding the content. Also, if you’re using Chrome, you can look in the browser console and change from “<top frame>” to “collapsible-split-list-3.html” and you’ll see “clicked delete” appear whenever you click the delete icon. Other browsers that allow the viewing of the console should also show “clicked delete”, but the method to find that is outside the scope of this tutorial.
 
Now, in the above javascript code, why did I specifically target the LAST div when there’s only 1 div to begin with? Because currently, there isn’t any indication that the list items can be clicked to display more information, and since jQuery Mobile doesn’t natively support collapsible split lists / multiple icons for lists, we need to add another div to put the icon in there:
The HTML (changes highlighted)

<ul data-role="listview" data-inset="true" data-split-icon="delete">
	<li>
		<a href="#"><div class="iconFloat ui-btn ui-corner-all ui-icon-plus ui-btn-icon-notext"></div>
			<h2>Stephen Weber</h2>
			<div style="display:none;">
				<p><strong>You've been invited to a meeting at Filament Group in Boston, MA</strong></p>
				<p>Hey Stephen, if you're available at 10am tomorrow, we've got a meeting with the jQuery team.</p>
			</div>
		</a>
		<a href="#">Delete</a>
	</li>
	<li>
		<a href="#"><div class="iconFloat ui-btn ui-corner-all ui-icon-plus ui-btn-icon-notext"></div>
			<h2>jQuery Team</h2>
			<div style="display:none;">
				<p><strong>Boston Conference Planning</strong></p>
				<p>In preparation for the upcoming conference in Boston, we need to start gathering a list of sponsors and speakers.</p>
			</div>
		</a>
		<a href="#">Delete</a>
	</li>
	<li>
		<a href="#"><div class="iconFloat ui-btn ui-corner-all ui-icon-plus ui-btn-icon-notext"></div>
			<h2>Avery Walker</h2>
			<div style="display:none;">
				<p><strong>Re: Dinner Tonight</strong></p>
				<p>Sure, let's plan on meeting at Highland Kitchen at 8:00 tonight. Can't wait!</p>
			</div>
		</a>
		<a href="#">Delete</a>
	</li>
</ul>

The CSS for the “iconFloat” class:

.iconFloat {
	float: left;
	margin-top: 0px;
	margin-bottom: 0px;
	border-top-width: 0px;
	border-bottom-width: 0px;
	border-left-width: 0px;
	border-right-width: 0px;
	top: 2px; //this will vary depending on application
	padding-bottom: 0px;
}

Now we have a collapsible split list with a plus icon to indicate that there’s more content and a delete icon, but when you click on the list item, it expands but doesn’t turn into a minus icon like would logically be expected. To fix that, we need to add one more line to our javascript code above:
The Javascript (changes highlighted):

$(document).on("click","ul a", function(){
    $(this).children("div:last").toggle(200);
    if($(this).attr("title")) {
        console.log("clicked delete");
    } else {
        //Clicked the link to toggle the content
    }
	$(this).children("div:first").toggleClass("ui-icon-plus ui-icon-minus");
});

That is why we wanted to toggle the LAST div: because there would be 1 more div before it that would contain the collapsible icon (the FIRST div). The .toggleClass() function just adds / removes the specified classes (if the class is there, it removes it; if it isn’t, it adds it).
 
Combine it all together and you should have something like this:

Full HTML/CSS/Javascript

The full HTML/CSS/Javascript source used in the example above:

<html>
	<head>
		<link rel="stylesheet" href="http://code.jquery.com/mobile/1.4.2/jquery.mobile-1.4.2.min.css" />
		<style>
			.iconFloat {
				float: left;
				margin-top: 0px;
				margin-bottom: 0px;
				border-top-width: 0px;
				border-bottom-width: 0px;
				border-left-width: 0px;
				border-right-width: 0px;
				top: 2px;
				padding-bottom: 0px;
			}
		</style>
	</head>
	<body>
		<div data-role="page">
			<div role="main">
				<ul data-role="listview" data-inset="true" data-split-icon="delete">
					<li>
						<a href="#"><div class="iconFloat ui-btn ui-corner-all ui-icon-plus ui-btn-icon-notext"></div>
							<h2>Stephen Weber</h2>
							<div style="display:none;">
								<p><strong>You've been invited to a meeting at Filament Group in Boston, MA</strong></p>
								<p>Hey Stephen, if you're available at 10am tomorrow, we've got a meeting with the jQuery team.</p>
							</div>
						</a>
						<a href="#">Delete</a>
					</li>
					<li>
						<a href="#"><div class="iconFloat ui-btn ui-corner-all ui-icon-plus ui-btn-icon-notext"></div>
							<h2>jQuery Team</h2>
							<div style="display:none;">
								<p><strong>Boston Conference Planning</strong></p>
								<p>In preparation for the upcoming conference in Boston, we need to start gathering a list of sponsors and speakers.</p>
							</div>
						</a>
						<a href="#">Delete</a>
					</li>
					<li>
						<a href="#"><div class="iconFloat ui-btn ui-corner-all ui-icon-plus ui-btn-icon-notext"></div>
							<h2>Avery Walker</h2>
							<div style="display:none;">
								<p><strong>Re: Dinner Tonight</strong></p>
								<p>Sure, let's plan on meeting at Highland Kitchen at 8:00 tonight. Can't wait!</p>
							</div>
						</a>
						<a href="#">Delete</a>
					</li>
				</ul>
			</div>
		</div>
		
		<script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-1.9.1.min.js"></script>
		<script src="http://code.jquery.com/mobile/1.4.2/jquery.mobile-1.4.2.min.js"></script>
		<script lang="text/javascript">
		$(document).on("click","ul a", function(){
			$(this).children("div:last").toggle(200);
			if($(this).attr("title")) {
				console.log("clicked delete");
			} else {
				//Clicked the link to toggle the content
			}
			$(this).children("div:first").toggleClass("ui-icon-plus ui-icon-minus");
		});
		</script>
	</body>
</html>

Conclusion

By including 2 extra div’s per list item, a little custom CSS, and some minor event handling Javascript, we can effectively create a functional collapsible split list. From here, you can easily add function calls to the part of the code for when the user clicks the delete button or choose to do an additional task when the user expands/collapses the content.
 
 
Let me know if you found this tutorial helpful and if you’re using collapsible split lists in the comments below.
 

Could you repeat that?

After a few weeks, working on and off, I’ve almost completely implemented an event calendar that supports repeating events.
 
In my previous update, I mentioned looking at an iCal implementation (which didn’t meet my needs), as well as finding a forum that laid out the groundwork for implementing recurring events in a database. However, I stumbled upon a much simpler solution:
 
A pseudo-cronjob implementation (forum link).
 
From the link above, I would have 3 fields/objects:
 
events (maps an id to the event name, start time, and array of dates)
event-dates (maps a date to an array of id’s)
endlessEvents*
 
*Note: Not yet implemented. Will end up storing a pattern for identifying whether an event falls on a particular day.
 
For events that have a definite end date (either after a number of occurrences or on a specific date), I enumerate all the dates that event would fall on and add the event ID to the specified date(s) in the map of event-dates.
 
If I need to delete an event, I would just need to get the ID and iterate over the map, removing the ID wherever found.
 
If I need to edit an event for a particular day, I would clone the event but give it a different ID, remove the old ID from the event-dates map for that particular day, and add the new event ID.


All that’s left to implement for the calendar is:

  • Endless event pattern matching
  • Editing / Removing an event
  • Modifying the implementation of “ends after x occurrences” to “ends on (date)”

After that, it’s just a short step to implement a checklist displaying what events are happening today. Then I get to play with PhoneGap to try and convert it to an Android / iPhone app.

Automatically updating version control!

There is no logical reason why I am THIS excited about getting my post-commit hook working. But I am! Now when I commit changes from my working copy, the post-commit hook will automatically update the working copy in the folder serving the “beta” sub-domain.
 
In order to get the post-commit hook working with svn, I had to create a small C program (as recommended by the official documentation). I copied it (modifying the paths), compiled it via SSH on my web host and tested it through SSH and found it to work successfully. However, when I made a commit, the post-commit hook failed with exit code 255 with no output.
 
I double-checked my permissions on the C program and tried again, but still the same error. I then tried commenting out the call to the C program and added a simple “whoami >> [path]/whoami.txt” to see who was executing the post-commit hook.
 
Post-commit hook failed with exit code (255) and no output.
 
Ok, NOW we’re getting somewhere. Whatever user account that’s trying to access the post-commit hook script can’t even access the script. I tried chmod-ing the repository, recursively, to 777 (read/write/execute for all) and did another commit. SUCCESS! I found a “whoami.txt” file, but surprisingly, it was my login (which had permissions to begin with).
 
Un-commenting the line that executes the C program to update a different working copy, I made another commit. This time, I started getting meaningful failure messages. The first message stated an authentication failure, so I modified the C program to include my username and password and recompiled it. Another error but this time it was due to requesting interaction (“are you sure you want to overwrite…”). Modified the C program one last time, adding the no-interaction flag, compiled and tested one last commit.
 
Bingo!
 
No error messages and the beta section of the website was updated automatically!
 
In short, to get the post-commit hooks working with svn I needed to:
 

  1. (via SSH) CHMOD -R 777 [path to repo]
  2. Create the following C program:
    #include <stddef.h>
    #include <stdlib.h>
    #include <unistd.h>
    int main(void) {
       execl("[path to svn executable]", "svn", "update", "[path to WC to update]", "--non-interactive", "--username", "[username]", "--password", "[password]",(const char *) NULL);
       return(EXIT_FAILURE);
    }

    Note: MUST have blank line at the end (at least my gcc compiler complained about the lack of one the first time). The code formatter above removes it.

  3. Upload the C-source to my website and compile
  4. (via SSH) CHMOD +s [compiled C-program]
  5. Since my host is a linux host, create a file in the “hooks” directory of the repo named “post-commit”
  6. Add the following two lines to the “post-commit” file:
    #!/bin/sh
    [path to repo]/hooks/[compiled C-program]
  7. Test the post-commit hook by performing a commit

Version control is here!

As the title suggests, version control is finally here! (somewhat)…
 
After doing a lot of research and fiddling with my website via SSH, I managed to set up a subversion repository hosted by my website. I previously tried experimenting by installing Git, but was unable to get it to compile successfully (probably due to permission issues in place on a shared hosting provider, although others on my hosting provider managed to get it working, it involved editing a lot of configurations in the config file, as well as messing with some lines in Makefile).
 
Since I’m still relatively new to subversion (but not version control as a concept), I’ve only activated it for my beta web apps that I’m working on. I didn’t want to try to set it up for my whole website, not knowing how subversion would work with wordpress and having different branches checked out and posting new updates via wordpress and having to commit them to the repository and such (or make an update with my working copy, commit it, only to have it potentially overwrite something I did in wordpress). Yeah, I could probably get around it by always doing an update before committing, but I may not always remember to do that, and frankly, wordpress is doing just fine w/ its own version control so I don’t really NEED it for my entire website.
 
With this version control system in place, I no longer need to (nor will I) make backups of the projects I’m working on by simply copying the directory somewhere else and appending “01”, “02”, etc… to the end of it.
 
Can’t wait to get back to focusing on development rather than part development, part “I better copy this in case I screw it up and can’t figure out how to get it back to the way it was”

Side Projects – Update

To update on the side projects I’ve been working on:

Medication Reminder – What was tried:

 
I tried using jQuery iCalendar but couldn’t figure out how to get it to actually display a calendar or link it to a calendar (it appears it’s only for converting an event into an iCal format) so I decided not to go down that route.

Medication Reminder – What has worked:

 
I’ve had a large amount of success using jQueryUI’s Datepicker (now rolled into jQueryMobile 1.4). Since the intended platforms are mobile devices and intended use is for medication reminders, for those that take a lot of medications, having individual visible events on a calendar would either extend the cells of the calendar or overflow on top of the days below it or be cutoff all together resulting in not all the “advertised” information being displayed, I opted to just color the cell in the calendar if there was SOMETHING for that day. Then, when the user click on that day, a window pops up detailing what all is to be taken that day, and if in the past, when the medication was actually taken.
 
By using the “beforeShowDay” option, I can check to see if there are any medications to be taken that day and set the highlight class as necessary. I also realized that since the class name the beforeShowDay option expects is just a string, I could have multiple classes like: “highlight big-date” (trivially) to highlight the date on the calendar and make the date number really big.
 
With this, I got the idea to include the date itself as a “class” so I could quickly pick the EXACT DOM element for a specific date and perform other DOM manipulations using jQuery (e.g.: if mobile device, do nothing special, but if desktop browser / tablet / sufficiently large display, inject medication name / time).
 
With the “medication-event” rendering problem solved (mostly), I’m now focusing on how to store the “medication-events” in a (relatively) small and robust manner (similar to iCal), specifically as it relates to recurring events. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from Google Calendar as far as how to present the input of a “medication-event” (“if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” and “don’t reinvent the wheel” come to mind) and from this thread on webdeveloper.com on how to store the “medication-event”. It has also provided some insight on how to render the recurring events as well as how to handle exceptions (e.g.: take daily at 7 am, except on weekends take at 9 am).
 
One other feature I implemented at the last minute to the “Add event” form is adding an auto-complete functionality for the medication name input. Not knowing what’s “common” prescribed medications, I just took a list from needymeds.org and modified the auto-complete to display the suggestions in a scrollable window (to prevent it from “breaking” the flow of the input page). An added benefit is that the brand names are included so the user can type either the generic / chemical name or the brand name and still find the medication (hopefully).

Medication Reminder – What remains:

 
Once the “medication-event” handling is complete, I’m ready to merge the calendar and the easy “one-touch taken medication” features and move on to packaging the web app in Phonegap to be able to leverage the native notification / popup features of Android/iOS.
 
You can view the event calendar at: http://beta.bradleymize.com/cal/
You can view the “one-touch taken medication” feature at: http://beta.bradleymize.com/pills/