Web design, like any type of design, moves through times when certain styles and paradigms are popular. Creating some of the currently popular visual effects can be a difficult task. Added to this challenge are a number of common problems that web developers encounter. Here are 10 jQuery plugins that will help you create stunning visual effects on your web sites and solve many common web application challenges.
Google Feed API Pluginhttp://plugins.jquery.com/project/jgfeed
One common web development task is to include content from another web site or blog on a page. Often this is done in a sidebar or widget. Many blogs and web sites today use Google Feeds to deliver their RSS feeds. The Google Feed API plugin makes it trivial to access a Google Feed and retrieve items to display on your page. This plugin provides a high level interface to the Google Feed API for accessing the feed. After you get the contents of the feed, you’ll have to write code to use the items returned. This makes it possible to literally do anything with the data returned by the API.
A common design technique is to have a large background image that fills the browser window. Many web sites have examples of this design element. Fullscreenr is a jQuery plugin that makes it simple to scale an image so that it fills the browser window. This relieves the designer have having to worry about things like screen resolution. Fullscreenr will take into account aspect ratios and will scale a background image to fill the available area. It can also handle centering the the image.
jMagnify is a neat jQuery plugin that adds a level of mouse interactivity. When you mouse over a block of text, jMagnify will animate the text under the mouse pointer. This plugin has many options for creating interesting text effects. You can enlarge the font under the mouse to create the effect of running a magnifying glass over the line of text (hence the name). You can also change color, underline the text under the mouse pointer or put a box around the letters that moves with the mouse.
While a web site should never rely solely on client side form validation, performing validation on the client side can greatly enhance the user experience. Nothing is more irritating than to submit a form, wait a few seconds and then get an error that you didn’t use the right phone number format. JQuery Validity is a jQuery plugin that allows you to easily perform client side form validation. It includes a number of common validation techniques including required fields, ranges, match, non-HTML, maximum and minimum length and more. Validity also supports aggregate validators. These are validators that rely on more than one input such as when you retype a password to confirm the value entered.
There really isn’t a whole lot to jQuery SimpleColor. It’s a plugin for creating a simple color picker. I’ve included it because color pickers are common user interface elements.
Pagination is a common web development task. While pagination can certainly be down on the server side, jPaginate creates an interesting visual approach to pagination. This plugin allows you to easily create a scrolling list of page numbers. When you mouse over the right or left arrow, the list of page numbers will animate, scrolling in the direction indicated. This makes it easy to browse through a set of pages without having to click an arrow and wait on a roundtrip to the server to see the links for the next 5-10 pages.
This plugin is probably one of the simplest mentioned so far. It creates an animated effect where elements rotate up. While the demo of this plugin is pretty unimpressive, there are ways that this plugin could be quite useful. The demo shows text blocks rotating much like a news ticker, which is certainly one way this plugin could be used. However, since this plugin rotates elements, those elements could technically contain images, story summaries or any other content. This makes it possible to create interesting rotators highlighting different content.
A common web development problem is how to let users now that a form or page contains unsaved changes. The dirtyFields plugin is one simple solution. This jQuery plugin saves the initial state of form fields and alerts users to unsaved changes by applying CSS styles to fields or even to the entire form. It also works with dynamically added fields.
It’s a common web design technique to have a group of elements that can be hidden or displayed by clicking a single link such as “Show All” or “Hide All”. The jQuery Toggable plugin is a very simple lightweight plugin for implementing this type of behavior. It tracks the status of the toggable elements and animates them appropriately based on their current status.
Element Stack is a personal favorite of mine. I love the effect where a group of images on a web site looks like a stack of photos. Clicking the stack moves the images into a grid making it easy to view them. Clicking again returns them to the stack. Element Stack is a jQuery plugin for implementing this effect. While the effect is most often used on groups of images, it can be used to stack any element. You could create stacks of text or images. It’s a really cool animation effect that web sites are finding new and innovative ways to use.
One of the best strengths of the jQuery library is its ability to be extended through plugins. We’ve shared 10 of our favorite jQuery plugins for creating various effects or solving various web development challenges. Which ones do you use?