A simple jquery scroller

Recently we implemented a variation on a scroller. We needed to flash up a set of snippets, one by one, in the same text area of a page. Here's a demo of it in action. You can view the source of the demo but here's a quick, plain-English explanation of how it works.

The markup

In the page, the snippets are list elements li in a section. You can make them definition elements or whatever you like. The section has an id so we can find it from javascript - I've called it snippets in the example.


Pretty much the only style elements that are important to the correct operation of the scroller is display: none on the list elements. This ensures that all list elements start out being invisible. Having overflow: hidden on the section makes it easier to deal with any stuttering in the javascript loop shown below.

The javascript

We're using jQuery so make sure you've got that loaded. And here's the javascript:

  var loopSnippets = function() {
    var snippets = $("li", $("#snippets"));

    snippets.each( function(index, element) {
      $(element).delay( index*5000 ).fadeIn(100).delay(4500).fadeOut(200);
      if (index == snippets.length-1) { setTimeout( loopSnippets, index*5000 + 5000 ) }

So this is where all the action is of course. The variable snippets collects all the list items and then we iterate over this collection, showing each list item and then hiding them again (using fadeIn and fadeOut).

What you have to wrap your head around is that all of the code gets executed in one shot, so to get items to display in sequence and to loop around again, you have to show-and-hide each item at different times.

The trick is to use delay and the index of the item in the array to calculate the amount of time we need to wait before kicking off the show-and-hide routine for the item.

Finally, to loop back and start over at the top, we use setTimeout to kick off the loopSnippets function again. Again, use the length of snippets and the amount of time used up in showing and hiding each element to figure out how long you have to wait before setting off loopSnippets again.

Keep in mind that the above code works irrespective of the length of the list of snippets - which is of course what you want if the snippets are dynamically loaded.

In summary

Use delay and the index of elements in an array if you want to operate on each element in sequence. Use setTimeout to repeat a function call at specific time intervals.

Thanks go to Josh Kunzmann and Damien Le Berrigaud for collaborating on this and showing me how to use delay and setTimeout creatively!