List Object

Revision: added mouse over capabilities, specifically for the MenuList.

The List object is a generic selection widget, something like an HTML Select List but much more configurable. I specifically built this object with the intent for it to be incorporated into larger and more complex widgets - it forms the basis for other widgets to be made. The widgets I've created using this object are the SelectList, ScrollList, and MenuList.

Here's what the default List widget looks like:

All the colors, spacing, font, and of course the items contained are easily changed. I've also included code so that you make a multiple-columned list, and have a swappable image inside the list. The latter is mainly used by the MenuList object.

Creating a List

objectName = new List(x,y,width,itemH)

The itemH parameter is optional. This refers to the height of each item in the list. To make the List object a little better, I allowed this to be left undefined, and make the List automatically build itself according to the minimum height that each item must be. This avoids any font sizing problems between platforms because no matter which font is used, the text inside the list will always be compact and evenly spaced. The only drawback for this is it takes a little longer to initialize and you'll never know the total height of the list. If you do set the itemH property you are able to set a specific height


mylist = new List(30,40,150)  // itemH will be taken care of automatically

mylist = new List(30,40,150,30) // each item will be 30 pixels tall

Adding Items to the List

To add items to the list you use the add() method:


The value specified is how each item will contain it's data. This can be any variable; a number, string (such as URL), or even arrays and objects. The text will be the text shown in the List.


mylist.add('page1.html','Page 1')
mylist.add('page2.html','Page 2')

Multi-Columned List

The list object can be used to mimic a table of items by using the multi-column feature. To do this you add the desired number of cell text values in the add() method as well:

objectName.add(value,text1,text2,text3 etc....)

You must set the widths of column before you do this though. Just send a list of pixels widths to the setCols() method. Heres an example:

mylist = new List(50,50,150)
mylist.setCols(50,50,50)  // 3 columns, should add up to the total width

Building and Activating the List

This is done just like all my widgets. Call the build() method when you're done setting everything up, write the CSS and Div's to the page, and then call the activate() method. Here's a complete example:

function init() {

mylist = new List(50,50,150)
mylist.add('zero','item 0')
mylist.add('one','item 1')
mylist.add('two','item 2')
mylist.add('three','item 3')
mylist.add('four','item 4')

writeCSS (

<script language="JavaScript">

Example: list1.html [source]

Example: list2-multicol.html [source] - multiple column list

Customizing the List

The properties below can be used to change how it looks. This is what the defaults are:

itemSpacing = 1
fontname = 'Helvetica'
fontsize = 11
visibility = 'inherit'

color.textNormal = '#000000'
color.textSelected = '#FFFFFF'
color.bgNormal = '#E6E6E6'
color.bgSelected = '#0000A0'
color.bgRollover = '#D1D1D1' = '#C0C0C0'

The only ones worth explaining is the itemSpacing and properties. The itemSpacing is the number of pixels that separates each item in the list. The background color ( will be the color between the items. The other properties are self-explanitory.

Example: list3-custom.html [source] - different colors and stuff

Other Properties and Methods

The List has built in properties and methods, so that you can utilize it for any occasion.


lyr (DynLayer)
a DynLayer associated with the top-most layer of the List, all functionality of the DynLayer can be applited to the List by this proprety/object
value (any variable)
this will reflect the value of the currently selected item
selectedIndex (integer)
The index number of the currently selected item
items (array)
an array of all the items, this is how they are stored in the List code
items[x].selected (boolean)
used to check if item "x" has been selected
items[x].value (any variable)
the value of item "x"
items[x].text (string, or an array of strings)
the text string of the of items "x", what's visually shown in the List. If you use the multi-column option, this value is an array of all the text values sent in the add() method (items[x].text[0], items[x].text[1] etc)
multiSelect (boolean)
determines whether multiple items can be selected, false by default (only one can be selected). Note: when this is enabled, the value and selectedIndex properties can't really be used because they will reflect only the item that was selected last. You will have to cycle through the items[] array to find all the selected items and appropriate values.
allowDeselect (boolean)
determines whether you can deselect an item by clicking it again, false by default (once it's selected, it cannot be deselected). This value has no effect if the multiSelect option is true.

preSelect (integer)

will make the List preselect a given item when activated

w (integer)

returns the width of the List

h (integer)

returns the total height of the List. If you're using the "auto-sizing" feature this value should only be used after it as been activated.


selects the given item
deselectes the given item
explained below

Example: list4-props.html [source] - uses most of these properties, it'll give you a better idea of how to use them

The onSelect Event

The onSelect event is a called after an item is selected. Usually you'll want to assign a handler to this event to do something like redirect the browser to a url (which would be set by the values of the items in the list). To assign the handler, just set it to a function that will be created by you:

objectName.onSelect = myFunction

That function will become part of that List object and you'll will be able to use any of the properties. As an example fuction, I have already included a redirect handler in the List Object (you will have to manually assign this handler though):

function ListRedirect() {
	location.href = this.value

To assign it you'd just write:

objectName.onSelect = ListRedirect

Example: list5-redirect.html [source] - redirection example

The Image Option

I implemented an image option specifically for use in the MenuList object, but this may be of use elsewhere. What this does is stick an image to the right side of the item, and will swap it with a 'selected' state iamge when you click on it. For the MenuList, this would usually be an image of an arrow. By default this image appears on the right side, but this would be changeable if you edit the source code to the List Object.

To use this option there are 2 steps. First you call the setImage() method:





After calling this method, you must assign the image to the items that you want. You do this by setting an additional property, hasImage, to the item you want:

mylist.items[0].hasImage = true

Example: list6-image.html [source] - uses image

This object by itself is rather bland, I really didn't write it with intention for it to be used individually, rather to be used as the basis in a few other widgets I had in mind. To see what I did to extend this object take read through the following lessons:

Source Code


Home Next Lesson: SelectList Object
copyright 1998 Dan Steinman