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iGoogle UI for SharePoint – Part Two : Dragging, Dropping, Sorting and Collapsing


Series Content

  1.     Part One – Overview, Concept,  HTML Structure & jQuery Basics
  2.     Part Two – Dragging, Dropping,  Sorting and Collapsing – Current Article
  3.     Part Three – Saving WebPart states using Cookies
  4.     Part Four – Control Adapters
  5.     Part Five – SharePoint 2010 Integration
  6.     Part Six – Bringing it all together
  7.     Bonus – Saving WebPart States using the Client Object Model


In Part Two we will take the basic html from part one and using some Javascript magic make it into a more compelling and interactive page.  Firstly we will identify the various techniques individually and then put them all together at the end of this post.


As mentioned in the previous post, a decision was made to use the jQuery Library with the jQuery UI abstraction layer to provide the functionality for our “iGoogle” interface.  It is using this library that will speed up development and keep everything cross-browser capable.  In our solution we will be using the following effects / methods from the jQuery & jQuery UI library.

We will begin by modifying our script.js file to include a new global object called “iSharePoint“.  This will be our namespace that we will use to contain all of the functionality for our interface.  Within this object we will create a set of functionality that uses the libraries and methods described above.

This method will be called from the jQuery Document Ready function which will ensure all the items are ready to be manipulated before we do anything.

iSharePoint Settings

The settings object we have defined will contain all of the global settings we require to make this item as functional as possible.

There are quite a few settings which I will now explain each in detail:

  • columns – this is the class selector for each of the columns that we would like to be sortable and drag and drop between.
  • zones – these are the unique ID’s of each of the columns. (This is blank because we are going to dynamically populate this based on the DOM contents)
  • widgetSelector – this is the wrapper div of each of our draggable widgets.
  • handleSelector – this is the grab handle class for the div we will use to drag the widget around the page
  • contentSelector – this defines the class of the widget content wrapper which is used for the collapsing and expanding functionality.
  • editSelector – this defines the class of the edit panel wrapper which is used to contain the edit functions.
  • toolboxSelector – this defines the footer toolbox where unwanted or unused widgets can sit out of the way.
  • widgetPlaceholder – this is the name of the class that is assigned to the drag target div so you know where your div will end up.

Bring the Widgets to life

The next part is a little more complicated but we will take each part individually.  We now need to add another method to our global object that we will call “buttonFunctions

To this method we will add first create a new reference to our global object.  This is useful if multiple instances are required as well as if you ever need to rename the global object.  We will then need to create a new variable so we can reference jQuery without using the “$” symbol in noConflict() mode as that symbol it is used by SharePoint’s internal js files and can cause clashes. (Thanks to Chris O’Brien for explaining this here)  We will then create a local reference to the settings only as a shortcut so you don’t need to type “this.settings” every time.

The next step is to define our button click handlers so that each widget has independent click events that can be raised.  One thing to be careful of is what is known as “Event Bubbling“.  This is when, upon clicking on an element in the DOM the event will bubble upwards through to the highest level element which an event the same as the ones you have recently triggered.  To prevent this from happening we need to add a line of code (e.stopPropagation();) which will prevent this from happening.  Below is a skeleton framework of the button click handlers.

As you can see there is quite alot of framework code added to contain the button functionality.


You can see and example of where we are currently by clicking here for a demo

Button Functions in More Detail

We will now flesh out each of the functions in the method to provide them with some actual functionality starting with the widget toolbox slider at the bottom.

As you can see we have changed line 5 from the alert to

This simple line will enable use to open and close the toolbox at the bottom.  Nice and simple.

The reset button will not be functional at this point as in future posts we will be resetting the cookies and refreshing the page.  At this stage we will simply ask for confirmation of the action and then refresh the page.


We have again removed the alert placeholder from the framework above and instead added three lines of code 5-7 which will ask the user to confirm that they want to reset and if they click yes then the page will reload otherwise nothing will happen.  Two down, Three to go.

Next we will add the toggle functionality to the edit toolbar.  This again is another single line but with some nested functions which will be explained.

As you can see we have once again replaced the alert placeholder with the single line.  If we look at the html of a widget we can explain how this works.

What we are trying to do is traverse the DOM to open and close the widget-edit div.  Our starting location is <a class=’edit’>edit</a> which is the first part of the code $j(this).  We then want to get the reference to the current buttons parent only, with a selector of settings.widgetSelector (which in our settings is set to “.widget”).  We then want to find the widget-edit div which is this part of the code find(settings.editSelector) and then we finally ask the code to perform a slideToggle(“slow”).  The slow property creates a nice visible slide.  Alternate values for this can be fast or to not provide a property at all.

So..Whats next.  The next item on the list is the remove functionality.  What we want this to do is remove the widget from the current div that it sits in and place it in the toolbox div.  This div has some specific CSS attached to it which will collapse the whole widget and just show the title bar with no buttons.

This time we are using a similar method to the previous function by traversing the DOM to find the current buttons parent.  However this time we want to take this whole DIV and using the appendTo() method we can attach it to the toolboxSelector div defined in the settings.  Simple!

The final one to do is the collapse button.  This once again is very similar to the edit button but with an extra line afterwards.

Once again you can see that we are getting the reference to the parent and then this time finding the contentSelector to perform the slide toggle on.  Afterwards we are once again getting the parent widget wrapper but this time we are now adding a class via the toggleClass method.  We need to do this so in future posts when we are saving the various states we can easily identify which widgets are minimised.

Thats is it for the button configuration.  We can now delete, open the edit box and toolbox, we can delete a widget from the main view and we can reset the page and force a page refresh.


To view a demo of where we are so far click here

Adding Drag and Drop functionality

So next up is the nicest piece which is the ability to drag and drop widgets between the columns.  Firstly like we did for the buttons we are going to add another method to our global object that we will call “makeSortable”.  Once again like above we will also add the iSharePoint reference, noConflict and settings references to the top.

To this function we will now add a reference to the jQuery sortable function.  This function takes a set of parameters which will be explained below the code sample.

  • Line 1 : take the reference of the columns from the settings and runs the sortable method on it.
  • Line 2 : this line enables us to connect all columns together so you are able to drag and drop between all instances
  • Line 3 : defines the element that you use to drag and drop
  • Line 4 : defines what the cursor looks like when dragging
  • Line 5 : If set to true, the item will be reverted to its new DOM position with a smooth animation.
  • Line 6 : The class that gets applied to the otherwise white space when you are dragging.
  • Line 7: Self explanitory, forces the placeholder to have a size.
  • Line 8: Time in milliseconds to define when the sorting should start.
  • Line 9: Opacity of the element currently being dragged.

The following lines 10 – 12 and 13-16 are two functions that get run at the start and end fo the dragging process.  The start function is used to change the colour of the columns so that they are highlighted when you drag so you know what the boundaries are.  The stop function reverses this and resets the toolbox and columns back to their previous state.  In future posts we will be using the stop function to save the state of the widgets.


You may have noticed by now that there is a div called “Badge” which is displayed in the HTML as a red circle.  This does indeed have a purpose to display the number of items currently in the toolbox.  To do this we once again need to add alittle piece of jQuery magic to bring it all together.

Firstly we need to create a global function which is not in the iSharePoint object.

What this does is count the number of widget divs that are in the toolbox at the bottom using the .Size() method.  The references to the divs are taken from the iSharePoint settings.  All that is needed to do now is to add the updateBadge(); to the ready function.

Then add it to the .remove click event.

And then finally add it to the stop event from the sortable method.

Colour Picker – Edit toolbar

The final piece of this post is to enable the colour of the header to be changed using the toolbox.  To do this we need to add another function to the global iSharePoint object called activateColours which will be used to process the colours.

The Markup for the edit toolbox is as follows:

As you can see this is nothing different from previous code but as you can see there is an LI with a class of each of the colours that you would like to use.  You are also able to put hex colours into the class names and they will work just fine.  The code for the function is shown below:

The first 4 lines should be nothing new as it is the same as previous functions.  The first loop goes through every unordered list on the page with a class of color and sets the background colour of the list item to what is in the class name.  Once all the items have their colour all we need to do is to attach a click handler to each of the list items themselves so they can control their parents header which is what the next loop then does.

Finally we need to add the function to the init function so that it will become active.


So want to see the whole thing working?  Click here to see the final result of this quite epic blog post.


In this post we have outlined how to add the various functionality to our page using javascript and the jQuery Libraries.  Next time I will explain how to save the state of the page using Cookies.  I hope this post has been useful and please leave some comments about what you would like to see in future posts.


iGoogle UI for SharePoint – Part One : Overview, Concept, HTML Structure & Jquery Basics


Series Content

  1.     Part One – Overview, Concept,  HTML Structure & jQuery Basics – Current Article
  2.     Part Two – Dragging, Dropping,  Sorting and Collapsing
  3.     Part Three – Saving WebPart states using Cookies
  4.     Part Four – Control Adapters
  5.     Part Five – SharePoint 2010 Integration
  6.     Part Six – Bringing it all together
  7.     Bonus – Saving WebPart States using the Client Object Model


This is the first in a series of posts which will explain how to create an iGoogle style interface for SharePoint 2010.  More and more clients are asking for an iGoogle or BBC Homepage style homepage for their intranets and out of the box in SharePoint 2010 there is no method to do this.  While you can drag and drop webparts in “Edit Mode” in a WebPart page, end user however is stuck on where to place their webparts on the page.  This series will aim to provide a mechanism where end users are able to take control of their page and make the SharePoint experience more personal.

There are many sites on the internet which have the ability to drag and drop components around the page and save their locations for your next visit.  Some of the most well known examples of this interface are:

iGoogle –

BBC Homepage –

Both these sites give you the ability to drag and drop various widgets around the page.  You can also close widgets you do not want to see and minimise others to maximise space on the page.  This is the kind of interface that we are going to create for use in SharePoint using jQuery and some C# code.

The Plan

First, let’s list exactly what we’ll be creating here and what features it will have:

  • The interface will contain several widgets (WebParts).
  • Each widget can be collapsed and removed via controls on the page.
  • The widgets can be sorted into an unlimited number of columns.
  • WebParts will be have their rendering controlled via a control adapter which will modify their look and feel.
  • Widgets will have their location and states saved using cookies.
  • Creating a simple Visual Studio 2010 solution to deploy an example.

This post will provide an overview of what we are planning to build as well as getting some development environments configured for your own personal demos.

Getting Started

To get started in this post we will be creating a demo environment to ensure that the Javascript, HTML and CSS are all working together for use in future posts.  Initially we will not be touching SharePoint as it is not necessary at this stage.  Firstly we will need to create a base HTML template that will load a specific CSS stylesheet, images and Javascript libraries.


Below is the base HTML that will be used in our initial demo.  We have a wrapper div that surrounds three div columns called “Left”, “Middle” and “Right”.  Within each column is the widget HTML that will be used to wrap each WebPart.  Each widget has a wrapper div as well as a header and body content divs.

As you can see the HTML is very simple but at the moment it will not look very attractive.  We have each of the widgets in their own Div and in the header we have three images which will be our “buttons” to control each widget.  On the left we have the collapse icon, next we have the edit icon and finally we have the remove icon.  Underneath the header we have an edit panel which will contain in this example some colour selections for the header bar which will be hidden in the css shown below.  So the next task is to now style the page and make it look neater.


The CSS is fairly simple and will be used for the SharePoint implementation.  We start with a global reset of the page to ensure that all DOM elements are reset.

The CSS helps style the page into three even columns and each of the widgets are styled with some buttons and styled headers.


To provide the cool functionality, we will need to get the latest jQuery libraries and jQuery plugins. We will also create our own custom javascript file which we will be used to store our script.  The versions that we are using are below with links to download them.

Our own script.js file at this stage will contain only a couple of lines of code to test that jQuery is working;


The images for the close and collapse buttons we will use a simple sprite which has a close, max and min symbols on it.

Live Demo

A live demo of the base structure can be found here.


In this post we have outlined what we will be covering and have managed to get a demo environment working for the next phase.  We will add some jQuery functionality and make our page come alive in the next posts.  I hope this post has been useful and please leave some comments about what you would like to see in future posts.