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Creating a Slider component for Mobile Web Templates

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Created: jappit (29 Oct 2009)
Reviewed: SannaH (07 May 2012)
Last edited: hamishwillee (20 Aug 2013)

This article explains how to create and use a Slider UI component for Mobile Web Templates for High-End devices.



Mobile Web Templates are a set of HTML resources that allow to easily build Web pages especially suited for mobile devices.

Mobile Web Templates for High-End devices contain some JavaScript components that allow to create and use interactive elements within a mobile web page. The available components are:

  • Slideshow: allows to visualize a set of images, by showing a single image and adding buttons to navigate to the previous and next photos
  • Toggle: a more usable and good-looking alternative to standard checkboxes, allowing users to enable or disable a particular option
  • Accordion: allows to build collapsible lists, especially useful on mobile devices' displays, where available space is usually limited

The Slider component

This article will focus on building a new component for Mobile Web Templates: a Slider component. The Slider is a control that enables the user to select a value in a finite range. A full description of the Slider design pattern is available here: Mobile Design Pattern: Slider Control

The next sections show the involved designing and programming steps, explaining the more relevant CSS, HTML and JavaScript code portions. Compatibility aspects with both S60 3rd edition and 5th edition devices will be covered, in order to build a component compatible with both touch and non-touch devices. Also, graceful degradation will be implemented, so that browsers without JavaScript support will be able to render a "scaled-down", but usable, version of the component itself.

Designing the component

Let's start by designing the component, following the default style of Mobile Web Templates for High-End devices. The following picture shows some of the inbuilt components:
Mobilewebtemplates components.png

So, using the same style and colors, it is possible to design the Slider component like the following one:
Mobilewebtemplates slider component.png

The Slider will basically be a horizontal bar, with a handle representing the current value.

The scaled down version

On browsers without JavaScript support, it is necessary to offer to the user a plain-HTML version of the component, that does not rely on JavaScript for its functionality. The most immediate and effective element that can be used as a Slider "degraded" version is represented by a text field, that allows the user to enter the value he wants by directly typing the value. The plain-HTML version is visible below.
Mobilewebtemplates slider component html.png

Coding the component

The plain-HTML version

First thing to do, is to start from the plain-HTML version of the component, that will be directly inserted in the web page HTML code. The following snippet shows a text field with an associated label that suit this requirements:

<label for="width_slider">Select width</label>
<input type="text" name="width_slider" id="width_slider" />

This INPUT field is the starting point to build the Slider, as it will be dynamically replaced by a fully interactive JavaScript component.

The constructor

The following properties must be defined, in order to properly initialize a Slider component:

  • the DOM element to be replaced
  • the minimum input value
  • the maximum input value
  • the starting input value
  • the increment unit step (1 by default)

Also, defining a callback can be useful to be notified when the slider value changes, in response to actions of the user.

It is then possible to define a constructor with as the following:

function Slider(_id, _defaultValue, _minValue, _maxValue, _increment, _callback)
{ = _id;
this.sliderInput = document.getElementById(_id);
this.value = (_defaultValue ? _defaultValue : 0);
this.minValue = (_minValue ? _minValue : 0);
this.maxValue = (_maxValue ? _maxValue : 100);
this.increment = (_increment ? _increment : 1);
this.callback = _callback;
(this.sliderInput) ? this.init() : false;

Given the HTML snippet defined above, it is possible to create a Slider component with the following code:

var mySlider = new Slider('width_slider', 30, 20, 40, 2, sliderHandler);

DOM structure

The DOM structure chosen for the Slider is the following one:

<ul class="slider">
<!-- the slider right bound -->
<li class="slider-item">
<!-- the slider left bound -->
<a href="#">
<!-- the slider handler -->
<span style="background-position: 50% center;"></span>
<!-- a helper element used to display the current slider value -->
<li class="slider-value">
<!-- here the current value goes -->

Some notes about the above structure:

  • left and right bounds of the slider are added with 2 nested elements: this allows to have a nicely resizable component, that scales well on all displays resolutions. This is also obtained with the following CSS rules:
ul.slider li.slider-item {
background: url(../images/sprite-button-rounded-right.png) no-repeat right top;
ul.slider li.slider-item:hover {
background: url(../images/sprite-button-rounded-right.png) no-repeat right bottom;
ul.slider li.slider-item a {
background: url(../images/sprite-button-rounded-left.png) no-repeat left top;
ul.slider li.slider-item a:hover {
background: url(../images/sprite-button-rounded-left.png) no-repeat left bottom;
  • the "a" element is used to allow 3rd edition (non-touch) devices to properly focus (and then use) the component

Component initialization

If the constructor can properly find the base input text field, then the initialization function, init(), is called.

The initialization process has to build the component DOM structure seen above, setting the necessary JavaScript event handlers to add the proper behavior to the various elements.

Slider.prototype.init = function()
//hide the text input = 'none';
//create the slider <ul> element
this.slider = document.createElement('ul');
this.slider.setAttribute('class', 'slider');
//create the slider <li> element
var li = document.createElement('li');
li.setAttribute('class', 'slider-item');
//create the <a> element
var aElement = document.createElement('a');
aElement.href = "#";
//create the <span> element (the slider handle)
this.sliderHandle = document.createElement('span');
//create the slider value <li> element
var valueLi = document.createElement('li');
valueLi.setAttribute('class', 'slider-value');
//create the value element
this.sliderValueElement = document.createElement('p');
this.sliderValueElement.innerHTML = this.value;
//appends the elements
//replace the input with the slider element
this.sliderInput.parentNode.insertBefore(this.slider, this.sliderInput);
var self = this;
// event for non-touch devices
aElement.onkeydown = function(e)
// event for touch devices
this.sliderHandle.onclick = function(e)
//set initial slider's value

The update behavior

First, it is necessary to define a function that is called every time the value of the Slider needs to be changed. This can be done as follows:

Slider.prototype.setValue = function(_value)
this.sliderValueElement.innerHTML = _value;
this.value = _value;

Then, it is necessary to create a function that updates the Slider's appearance (by moving the Slider handle) to represent the currently selected value.

Slider.prototype.update = function()
var positionX = 100 * (this.value - this.minValue) / (this.maxValue - this.minValue); = positionX + '% center';
this.sliderInput.value = this.value;

Handling key events

Non-touch devices, where tabbed navigation is enabled, allow for key-based interactions. Then, the component has to be able to intercept key events, and to properly respond to them.

The desired behavior is the following one:

  • when the right key is pressed, the slider value has to be incremented
  • when the left key is pressed, the slider value has to be decremented

The following code implements this behavior:

Slider.prototype.handleKeyDown = function(e)
var key = e.keyCode;
var newValue = this.value;
if(key == 37 && this.value > this.minValue)
newValue = Math.max(this.minValue, this.value - this.increment);
else if(key == 39 && this.value < this.maxValue)
newValue = Math.min(this.maxValue, this.value + this.increment);
if(newValue != this.value)

Handling touch events

Touch devices, and non-touch devices with cursor-based navigation enabled, allow for touch/click based interactions. The component has then to be able to intercept and respond to click events, by using the click X coordinate to set the appropriate new value for the Slider.

The following code implements this functionality:

Slider.prototype.handleClicked = function(e)
var mouseX = e.clientX;
var relativeX = mouseX - this.sliderHandle.offsetLeft;
var newValue = this.minValue + Math.round((this.maxValue - this.minValue) * relativeX / (this.sliderHandle.offsetWidth * this.increment)) * this.increment;

Using the Slider

Usage of the Slider component is quite straightforward:

  • Define the plain-HTML version of the component:
<input type="text" name="width_slider" id="width_slider" />
  • Call the Slider constructor:
var mySlider = new Slider('width_slider', 30, 10, 100, 5, sliderHandler);
  • To retrieve the Slider's value, simply use the Slider "value" property, or the INPUT field value (to guarantee graceful degradation):
// using the "value" property
var sliderValue = mySlider.value;
// using the INPUT field
var sliderValue = document.getElementById('width_slider').value;
  • Optionally, define the slider callback:
function sliderHandler(slider)
alert('You\'ve changed the slider "' + + ' value to ' + slider.value);


The following pictures show the component in action on S60 5th edition devices:
Mobilewebtemplates slider 5thedition.png

and on S60 3rd edition FP2 devices:
Mobilewebtemplates slider 3rdedition.png


It is possible to download the Slider component and some usage examples from the following links:

This page was last modified on 20 August 2013, at 06:02.
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