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TechTip: jQuery Fundamentals, Part I

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What should you, as an RPG programmer, know about jQuery?

 

For a very long time, I've been writing about jQuery, and some of you might wonder why on earth I keep "preaching" about this. I'll tell you why. Based on the email I get about my articles, the user group meetings I attend, and the programmers I work with on a daily basis, I really think jQuery is the medicine that can save us from being one of those old green-screen programmers who just sits there in the back, writing batch programs for our beloved IBM i.

 

It's no secret that I spend most of my time writing PHP, HTML, and jQuery/JavaScript, but just the other day I did a subfile program, and it was like coming home. RPG is such a great language, but DDS sucks—well, it gets the job done, and you can do good things with RTNCSRLOC, WDWTITLE, and ENTFLDATR, but whatever keyword you pick to spice up the DDS interface, it will never beat the onClick, onFocus, and similar JavaScript events.

 

So I keep talking about jQuery because it, combined with RPG or PHP, gives the users that little extra flavor that makes them feel that your application is just a bit better; it leaves them with the feeling that this old dog really can learn some new tricks.

 

This series of TechTips will show you some basic jQuery stuff that at first glance might seem very basic, but combined with your knowledge of RPG, it will give you a powerful tool pointing to the future.

jQuery Selectors

When you want to manipulate one or more HTML elements on a Web page using jQuery, you do it by using a selector. A jQuery selector is one of the most important parts of the jQuery library, and it's therefore vital that you understand it.

 

All types of selectors in jQuery start with the dollar sign and parentheses, like this: $().

 

Below I have listed the selectors I use the most in my daily work: 

  • $(this)—The current HTML element
  • $(".myClass")—Selects all elements with class="myClass"
  • $("#myID")—Selects the first element with id="myID"

There are of course a lot more, but these will sure get you started.

Some Examples

I will now start showing some examples. The examples are not necessarily very useful and are not supposed to be, but they serve the purpose of showing you how you can do things on a Web page.

 

Example 1: Reading the Content of an Input Field When Clicking a Button

 

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-loose.dtd value="

<html>

<head>

 

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1">

 

      

       <!-- Get the jQuery library -->

       <script type="text/javascript" src="/javascript/jquery.min.js"></script>

 

<script>

 

//===========================================================================

// jQuery loaded

//===========================================================================

$(document).ready(function() {

 

a)

       $("#myButton1").click(function() {

             var myValue = $("#myInput").val()

             $("#myOutput").val( myValue + ' (1)');

       });                

 

b)    

       $("#myButton2").click(function() {

             $("#myOutput").val( $("#myInput").val() + ' (2)');

       });                

      

      

c)

       // When placing the cursor in the input field select all text and save it in the saveText container

       $("#myInput").focus(function() {

      

             var myValue = $("#myInput").val();

            

             // Save it in <div> container

             $("#saveText").append( myValue + '<br>' ) ;

            

             // Clear input field

             $("#myInput").val('');

 

       });                       

      

 

});   

 

</script>

 

</head>

<body>

 

<b>Reading the content of an input field when clicking a button</b>

<hr>

 

d)

       Enter some text: <input id="myInput" type="text" size="40" value="Enter some text">

       <hr>

 

e)

       <input type="button" id="myButton1" value="Get Text (1)">

       <input type="button" id="myButton2" value="Get Text (2)">

       <hr>

f)

       Output<br>

       <input readonly id="myOutput" type="text" size="60" style="border: 1px solid #999999">

       <hr>

 

g)

       <div id="saveText"></div>

 

 

</body>

</html>

 

In this first example, I have listed all the code just to give you an idea what happens. In the following examples, I will not list the code because of the lack of space. But each one has a link you can click to see the example in action and a short description of what the example does. Then, just right-click on the example page and select Source to see all the code. At the end of the TechTip, you can download a zip file that contains all the examples.

 

So here's what happens in example 1.

 

a)

Bind the click event to the button named "myButton1". This means that when you click the button, the code inside the function will be executed.

 

To address the ID of the input field named "myInput" by using the ID-selector, the program will use the .val() function to retrieve the input of the field and save it in a variable named "myValue". It will then use the ID-selector named "myOutput" and the .val function to write the retrieved content into the myOutput field.

 

To show you which button was clicked, the constant (1) will be added to the end of the data.

 

b)

When you click "myButton2", the same happens as when clicking "myButton1", but instead of using a variable, the selectors are merged into each other. The result is the same, and the reason I show you the two examples is that despite the fact that the click on "myButton2" saves a variable, the code very often gets hard to read and hard to debug if any of those parentheses or brackets gets mixed up. So my preferred method is the one shown at a), but of course it's up to you.

 

c)

Here, I made a little logging feature mainly to show just how easily you can do things in jQuery.

What the .focus function does is the following:

 

When the field is focused, retreive the content.

Append it to a div container using the .append function.

Clear the input field.

 

d)

Define the input field with id "myInput".

 

e)

Define the buttons to handle the text.

 

f)

Define the output field with id "myOutput" and with a delicate little touch of CSS.

 

g)

The div container holds the text from the input field when the .focus event is fired.

 

As you can see, not much code is required to do all this stuff because everything is hidden away inside the jQuery library.

 

So let's move on to some more examples.

 

Example 2: Using a Class Selector to Manipulate Buttons and Text

 

In this example, I show you how a simple mouse-click can change the whole look of a Web page by using a class selector and some CSS classes. The jQuery .addClass and .removeClass functions are used to handle the layout. Also note that the buttons defined with <input> and <button> have to be handled a little differently to accomplish the same effect.

 

Example 3: Reversing Background Color and Font Size Using Odd/Even Selector

 

This example shows how to use the even/odd selector to change the background color of the <tr> element within a <table>. By clicking a button, that background color will be set, and another button will reverse the colors.

Summary

This is the first TechTip in my jQuery fundamentals series, and I hope it raises an eyebrow in an office somewhere.

 

I will keep writing about jQuery in the near future, and you will be presented with things like CallBack functions, ways to save data on the fly using AJAX, and much more. So stay tuned, and give jQuery a chance to prove its value in your everyday programming life.

 

If you want to download the examples, click here or here.

 

Jan Jorgensen

Jan Jorgensen is one of the owners of www.reeft.dk, which specializes in mobile and i5 solutions. He works with RPG, HTML, JavaScript, Perl, and PHP. You can reach him at jj@reeft.dk

 

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    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

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    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.