Presenting the Great New Features of jQuery UI 1.8


The final version of jQuery UI 1.8 just got released a few days ago. I will go through all new features and also show you some examples with the new widgets.

Along with the hundreds of bug fixes and improvements, 5 new plugins and 1 new effect found the way into the bundle.

What’s New in jQuery UI 1.8?

The jQuery UI team worked hard to make the framework even lighter, more modular and flexible. If you are a developer, it’s now even easier for you to build your own widgets or extend the pre-built ones.

To start right now, take a look at the new Widget-Factory and the jQuery UI CSS-Framework.

Also don’t forget about the ThemeRoller Firefox Developer Bookmarklet. This brings the ThemeRoller into any page on the web! To install it, simply drag the link into your Firefox toolbar. (or just click it right now to give it a try!).

The Position Utility

With this, you can position any element relative to any other, or even relative to the parent window or your mouse. Like in the “Write Less. Do More”-fashion, you just have to select the element you want and configuring which part of it should be positioned relative to which part of another element. That’s all!

Take a look at the official documentation here.

You can also take a look at the two provided demos which are included.

Position Utility – Demo 1:

Link to the Demonstration

jQuery UI 1.8 Position Demo 1

You can use the form controls to configure the positioning or you can drag the positioned elements to modify the offsets.

Just drag around the orange parent element to see the collision detection in action!

Position Utility – Demo 2:

Link to the Demonstration

jQuery UI 1.8 Position Demo 2

This is a prototype of the photo-viewer using the Position Utility to place the images at the center, left and right of your parent and cycle them.

To cycle them, just click the “Previous” and “Next” links at the top or on the images on the left or right. Also take a look how the images are repositioned after you re-size the window.

The Button Widget

With the button widget you can create a fully theme-able button from any imaginable element you want to use as a native button.

Use them right now in your dialog boxes or forms.

Take a look at the official documentation here.

They have also provided 6 different demonstrations there. Two of them I will show you now:

Button Widget – Demo 1:

Link to the Demonstration

jQuery UI 1.8 Button Demo 1

You can use any markup for create your buttons: An ordinary button element, a form-input element with the submit type or an anchor tag.

	$("button, input:submit, a", ".demo").button();
	$("a", ".demo").click(function() { return false; });

Button Widget – Demo 2:

Link to the Demonstration

jQuery UI 1.8 Button Demo 2

On this Demonstration you will see a (not functional) media player toolbar, filled with all types of buttons you can create with the new widget. Buttons with icons, checkbox-type buttons (“Shuffle”) and three radio-type buttons (“No Repeat”, “Once” and “All”).

Don’t forget to take a look at the source code. The setup/code is really very easy.

The Autocomplete Widget

This is maybe the most requested feature, which made it into the latest release of jQuery UI – The Autocomplete. Now you are able to make any text input field pop up a menu to help the user in completing their search or entry, provide suggestions or show all allowed values.

You are able to provide static data using the source option, or provide a callback function as the data source which can get the data from a server via Ajax.

Also there are a lot of demonstrations on the official documentation page. You can take a look at it here: Official Autocomplete Documentation. I will again present you two of them:

Autocomplete – Demo 1:

Link to the Demonstration

jQuery UI 1.8 Autocomplete Demo 1

This is the demonstration with the default functionality. When you start typing, you will get static suggestions on the pop up box. The data source is a simple JavaScript array.

	var availableTags = ["c++", "java", "php", "coldfusion", "javascript", "asp", "ruby", "python", "c", "scala", "groovy", "haskell", "perl"];
		source: availableTags

Autocomplete – Demo 2:

Link to the Demonstration

jQuery UI 1.8 Autocomplete Demo 2

In this demonstration, the data source is a remote JSONP. In this case: webservice. While you will end up with only the city name itself in the input box, more info is displayed in the suggestions box to help you find the correct entry.

This data is also available in callbacks, as you will get it illustrated in the results area below the text input field.

Take A Look At The Complete Changelog

jQuery UI 1.8 – Final Changelog

jQuery UI 1.8 Changelog

Click the link above to take a look at the full list of changes between jQuery UI 1.7.2 and jQuery UI 1.8.

Downloading jQuery UI 1.8

jQuery UI 1.8 Download It!
Of course, you have a few options again to get the latest build of jQuery UI.

The Complete Package:

With the jQuery UI 1.8 Starter Pack you will get all components and the default themes. Also it is optimized to use it along the Getting Started Guide, in case you’re new to this all.

The Full Development Bundle:

Of course you can also get the full jQuery UI 1.8 Development Bundle, which also contains all components and the base theme. This package is optimized for development of jQuery UI itself or the redistribution of your own builds – not for the “Getting Started Guide”.

The Full Theme Pack:

With the jQuery UI 1.8 Themes Pack you will get all of the 21 Themes of the ThemeRoller Gallery. You can just take one and use it, or take one as a starting point and tweak it to your wishes. For example you can use it along this bookmarklet.

Customized Download:

If you know exactly what you want, you can go to the jQuery UI 1.8 Download Builder to customize your build and download it as a custom zip file. Of course it still takes care of plugin dependencies, so you don’t have to worry about that!

Other Download Sources:

Now jQuery UI 1.8 is also hosted on Google’s AJAX Libraries API page. As Usual you can directly use them in your script sources so you disburden your server.

Of course you can still go to GitHub to get the latest version there too.

Last Words And Links

If you are ready for jQuery UI 1.8, make sure to use it along the latest jQuery build (1.4+) so you get the full performance and compatibility.

The Core of jQuery UI is now 71% smaller. They have achieved this optimization by pulling the already modular but bundled components mouse and widget.

The new mouse plugin file makes the average jQuery UI 14% smaller. This plugin is not new, but now it is moved to its own file, where before it was in the core.

If you’re upgrading from 1.7 to 1.8, be sure to take a look at their comprehensive Upgrade Guide here. If you’re coming from an even older version, take a look at the 1.7 Upgrade Guide first.

Most interesting links:

What can we expect from jQuery UI 1.9? I’m already very excited – Discuss in the comments and have fun trying out all new features and lets fill the web with some nice jQuery User Interfaces!

Happy developing! :)



  1. Hardy

    hey position utility demo 2 is realy realy amazing yar thanksssss.. for providing such information to us :)

  2. CuWeSo

    nice article, but the starting-image is the header of jQuery and not jQuery UI ;) first i was confused cause I only happed 1.8 and the logo ;)

  3. David

    As usual, with virtually every company and product, free or otherwise:

    New features were added, but old bugs were not fixed!

  4. Andy

    Its just the same, ridiculously confusing to set up. What ever happened to “ease of use”?

    • I guess the same what happens with Firefox – it is no more light weighted as it use to be, but don’t be harsh, maybe some good will come out of it at all :)

  5. Todd

    Autocomplete is very much broken, any mouse click more than a split second long fails to fire the select event in Firefox and IE. Don’t put this on your site and have it broken for most of your visitors. This shouldn’t be in 1.8 in this state.

    Try it with a longer mouse click (> 0.5 seconds) in either of these demos:

  6. Wow! I didn’t know anything about a new UI release! It seems pretty interesting. Especially the new auto complete function. I think I will definitely use that one. Keep it up!

  7. Now that’s what I call help. jQuery making life way too easy for us. I got some more ideas like transition of columns from right to left using floats….

  8. djavupixel

    Daniel Kurdoghlian was really fast I was thinking of this yesterday :) Even talked about it with Saad Bassi. Nice and thanks :)

  9. Falk Pauser

    Nice post! How about split-buttons? Thought they would come with jquery-ui-1.8…

    • Thank you Falk!
      What do you mean by split-buttons? Maybe drop-downs on buttons?
      If yes, it’s not directly implemented as an option (as far as I know for now) – but you can easily make your own with the given functionality.
      If you and others are interested, I can put it on my to-do list for tutorials! :)

  10. Shikeb Ali

    Now that’s what I call help. jQuery making life way too easy for us. I got some more ideas like transition of columns from right to left using floats….

  11. Beth McLain

    Thank you for pulling out some of the highlights of jQuery UI 1.8! I am looking forward to using them.