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How to create custom scrollbars in Symbian Web Runtime

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This article explains how to create custom scrollbars in a Web Runtime widget. The technique presented in this article is tested and working on S60 5th edition devices.

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Created: jappit (19 Jun 2009)
Last edited: hamishwillee (07 May 2012)



When presenting content that overflows the visible area, scrollbars are usually shown to notify the user about the availability of extra content, that overflows the visible one. A detailed description of the Scrollbar Mobile Design Pattern is available here: Mobile Design Pattern: Scrollbar.

How it works

The approach used in this article is similar to the one described in the Hiding default scrollbars in Web Runtime widgets article, where ad-hoc HTML elements are used to cover the default widget's default scrollbars. Also, a scroll event handler is used in order to correctly manage the scrollbar's slider position.

The code

The following code shows how to replace the default vertical scrollbar with a custom one. Similar technique can be used to override the horizontal scrollbar.

HTML structure

The basic HTML structure is composed of 4 elements:

  • a container element
  • the element that holds the content to be scrolled
  • the element that will simulate the scrollbar
  • and, inside the scrollbar element, a the element representing the slider

The sample HTML structure is shown in the following HTML snippet:

<body onLoad="javascript:init();">
<h2>Custom scrollbar example</h2>
<div id="container">
<div id="scrollable_content">
<div id="scrollbar">
<div id="slider"></div>

The CSS code

In order to have the scrollbar correctly positioned and styled, as well as the slider element, it's necessary to add some CSS rules. Since the custom scrollbar has to replace the default vertical scrollbar, it has to be positioned on the right side of the content div, and has to take its full height.

The following CSS rules allow to have a custom 30-pixels wide scrollbar with blue background, and a rectangular gray slider.
Further styling can be performed in order to have good looking scrollbars, by using custom images placed within the scrollbar and slider elements.
Wrt customscrollbar widget.png

#container {
position: relative;
overflow: hidden;
width: 200px;
#scrollable_content {
overflow: auto;
height: 200px;
padding-right: 24px;
#scrollbar {
background: blue;
height: 100%;
width: 30px;
position: absolute;
right: 0px;
top: 0px;
#slider {
background: gray;
position: absolute;
top: 0px;
left: 0px;
width: 100%;

Some notes about the above CSS code:

  • In order to allow scrolling, the "overflow" property of the scrollable_content DIV element has to be set to "auto".
  • Since default scrollbar width of WRT widgets is 4 pixels, it's necessary to have to set an explicit right-padding to the scrollable element, in order to avoid to cover the content with the scrollbar element

Resizing the slider

Now that the scrollbar and its slider are correctly shown above the default ones, the slider has to be resized and positioned according to the size of the scrollable content: more is the content that overflows the visible area, smaller will be the slider height. In order to calculate the slider height, the getSliderHeight() function is defined:

function getSliderHeight()
var scrollable = document.getElementById('scrollable_content');
return scrollable.offsetHeight * scrollable.offsetHeight / scrollable.scrollHeight;

The getSliderHeight() function is used in the init() method to set the correct slider height:

function init()
var slider = document.getElementById('slider'); = getSliderHeight() + 'px';

Moving the slider

When the user scrolls up and down the scrollable content, the slider has to be moved to represent the actual position of the visible area within the whole available content. The following getSliderTop() function returns the top coordinate of the slider, according to the actual visible area:

function getSliderTop()
var scrollable = document.getElementById('scrollable_content');
return scrollable.offsetHeight * scrollable.scrollTop / scrollable.scrollHeight;

The slider position has to be updated each time the user scrolls the content. So, the onscroll event can be used to detect such events, and it's possible to modify the init() method, defined above, as follows:

function init()
var scrollable = document.getElementById('scrollable_content');
scrollable.onscroll = moveSlider;

The moveSlider() method is the one that actually updates the slider position, by using the getSliderTop() method defined above:

function moveSlider()
var slider = document.getElementById('slider'); = getSliderTop() + 'px';


The sample widget presented in this article is available for download here:

This page was last modified on 7 May 2012, at 06:50.
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