Stateful jQuery plugins with jQuery UI's widget factory

29 Sep 2009

There are many different formats for jQuery plugins, many of the formats are not designed for stateful plugins.  What is a stateful plugin? A plugin that keep track of what the state of the plugin is and lets you call methods and change properties even after the plugin as been initialized.  All of jQuery UI’s plugins are stateful (as of version 1.7.2), part of the jQuery UI core is a “Widget Factory” which makes it very easy to quickly make a stateful plugin.

Below is an example of a plugin created with the jQuery UI widget factory.

$.widget('namespace.pluginName', {
	_init: function() {
		// stuff that is called on initialization of the plugin

		//this.options a combination of the defualt options and the ones passed in during the plugin initialization
		if ( {
			//this.element is the element that the plugin was called on
	_privatemethod: function() {
		//private internal function
		//private functions should be named with a leading underscore
		//will only be able to be called from inside the plugin
	publicmethod: function() {
		//this is a public fuction that can be called outside of the plugin

		//calling the private method from inside the public method
	value: function() {
		//this is a public function that is defined as a getter
		//meaning it returns a value not a jquery object
	destroy: function() {
		$.widget.prototype.apply(this, arguments); // default destroy
		// this is where you would want to undo anything you do on init to reset the page to before the plugin was initialized.


$.extend($.namespace.pluginName, {
	getter: 'value',
	defaults: {
		option1: 'bar',
		foo: true

With this you can call the following to initialize the plugin


To call the publicmethod function you can now do this after initializing the plugin:


This makes it very easy to create a stateful jQuery plugins very quickly. All you need is the core of jQuery UI, but most people already have the whole jQuery UI package on their page.