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TechTip: jQuery Fundamentals, Part III

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In this installment, callback functions are revealed.

 

In this third TechTip about jQuery fundamentals, I'll focus on a very powerful function that is available in a lot of the jQuery APIs: the callback function. To understand the callback paradigm on a simple level, you must first understand how a browser executes JavaScript. I'll explain that by making a comparison to RPG.

 

When you execute a series of subroutines in RPG, they're executed one by one, like so:

 

ExSr subr01

ExSr subr02

ExSr subr03

 

Here, you always know that subr03 is not executed before subr01 and subr02 are done, and subr02 is not executed before subr01 is done. This is very nice because if subr03 is depending on a result done in surb01, we always know that when subr03 is executed, the result from subr01 is ready for us. You can call this synchronous execution.

 

But JavaScript is different; it's executed asynchronously. If we follow the RPG example, it would mean that subr01, subr02, and subr03 are processed at the same time: asynchronous execution. Because you have no control over the process, this means that, in theory, subr03 could be executed before subr01, so you cannot be sure that the result from subr01 will be available for you in subr03, which can cause unpredictable results.

 

So, ladies and gentlemen, this is where jQuery callback functions kick in. So please pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, put on an Elvis Costello record, and sit back and enjoy this little trip into the world of jQuery.

jQuery Callback Functions

A callback function is executed after the current function is 100% finished. This is just what we need in order to control a series of events that might depend on each other.

 

The syntax for a callback function is like this:

 

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

      $("#messagewindow").slideDown('slow',function() {

            alert('Window is visible');

});

});  

 

In the example, a click is attached to a button. When the button is clicked, a message window will slowly slide down and show an alert. If we didn't put the alert inside the callback function, the alert would be displayed long before the slide effect had finished.

An AJAX Example

Armed with our new knowledge of callback functions, let's make an example that shows how an AJAX call uses a callback function to process the returned data. Here's how the program works:

 

  1. 1.The program makes an AJAX function, getData(), that sends back the current PHP version and also the Unix Epoch time in seconds. The data is written into the div tag with id=data. (The Epoch time or POSIX time is the time since January 1, 1970 UTC midnight and is used in many operating systems and file systems to represent date and time.)
  2. 2.Function showData() will retrieve the content from the div tag with id=data and from the input field with id=epoch. The number in seconds from the input tag will be divided by 60 to see the representation in minutes and will be written to the div tag with id=data1. Of course this is a very simple and not very useful program, but the idea is to make you understand the callback function.
  3. 3.When we do not use the callback function, the calculation will fail and you will see that the result will be 'NaN' which means "Not a Number."

 

Below are some fragments of the program that, to me, are the most interesting. Let's look at what happens in the code.

 

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

// Page loaded

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

$(document).ready(function() {

      

       // Add click to button

       $("#button1").click(function() {

             getData();

             showData();

       });                

      

       // Add click to button

       $("#button2").click(function() {

             getDataWithCallBack();

       });                       

 

});   

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

 

 

Here, we add a click to the two buttons named button1 and button2. Note that in the click function for button1, the getData and showData functions are called repeatedly as in the RPG subroutine example. This will result in the NaN result from the AJAX call because the showData function will try to retrieve the data from the div tag before the getData function has finished its job and actually written the data to the div tag.

 

But in the button2 click, a function called getDataWithCallBack is called. In this function, a callback function is used, which will assure that all data are where we want them to be when the calculations occur.

 

Below are the functions to the AJAX call and the calculation function. I have added some comments that explain where important things happen, so pay attention to that code.

 

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

// Get data

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

function getData( ) {

 

       // Hide and set default

       $('#data').html('Working')

       $('#showdata').hide('fast')

 

 

       $.ajax({

             type: "GET",

             url: 'ex2-return-data.php',

             dataType: 'html',

             cache: false,             

             success: function( dataStream ) {

 

a) ? Show the data square and write the result to the div tag using a callback function

                    // Show data

                    $('#showdata').show('fast',function() {

                           $('#data').html(dataStream)

                    });                

 

             },

                    error:function (xhr, ajaxOptions, thrownError){            

                   

                    // Error handling goes here...

 

             }

            

       });

      

}

 

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

// Get data with call back

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

function getDataWithCallBack( ) {

 

       // Hide and set default

       $('#data').html('Working')

       $('#showdata').hide('fast')

 

 

       $.ajax({

             type: "GET",

             url: 'ex2-return-data.php',

             dataType: 'html',

             cache: false,             

             success: function( dataStream ) {

 

 

            

                    // Write data to div

 

b) ? Write data to the data div tag

                    $('#data').html( dataStream );

                   

c) ? Show the data square and call the calculation function when you know the data is in place

                    // Show data

                    $('#showdata').show('fast',function() {

                           showData();

                    });                

            

 

             },

                    error:function (xhr, ajaxOptions, thrownError){            

                   

                    // Error handling goes here...

 

             },

            

d) ? You could also use the "complete" callback function in the ajax call to gain the same result as in the "success" callback function

 

                    complete:function ( dataStream ){      

            

                    // // When done - this call back could also be used

                    // $('#showdata').show('fast',function() {

                           // $('#data').html(dataStream)

                    // });             

                   

             }           

                   

       });

      

}

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

// Get data

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

function showData( ) {

 

e) ? Get the epoch number, calculate and write the result to the data1 div tag

       var number = $('#epoch').val()

       var minutes = parseInt( number / 60 );

       $('#data1').text( 'Minutes since Epoch: ' + minutes );

 

}

 

 

When not using the callback function (button1), the result will be as shown in Figure 1, and when using the callback function (button2), the result will be as in Figure 2.

 

030813JorgensenFig1                       

Figure 1: Here, the code is called without the callback function.

 

030813JorgensenFig2 

Figure 2: Here, the code is called with the callback function.

 

Let's Call It a Day

Well, that completes this TechTip. I really hope you can see the value of this powerful feature, which is just another wonderful part of the jQuery library.

 

You can download all the examples from this link.

 

I have also, as I always do, uploaded the examples to my own website, where you can see the examples in real life.

 

Example showing the basic use of callback using an alert:

http://agnethe.dk/mcpressonline/jquery_fundamentals_part3/ex1.htm

 

Example showing the calculation with and without the use of callback functions:

http://agnethe.dk/mcpressonline/jquery_fundamentals_part3/ex2.php

 

In the next part of the jQuery fundamentals TechTip series, I will create a program using jQuery, PHP, and RPG that will let you monitor whether a user is online on your i5 system. I hope it will be an inspire you toward further jQuery development. You might also like to review the first and second parts of this series.

 

Till next time, happy jQuery'ing and don't forget to "callback."

 

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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    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    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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  • 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.