Friday, January 18, 2008

ImageFlow with Lightbox Lite

I like the idea of using ImageFlow with Lightbox2, however, I don't like that it required a tweaked version of ImageFlow, nor that I then had to modify my image list to wrap the Lightbox2 elements around them. Additionally, Lightbox2 adds a lot of functionality that's not being using in this case (all the next/previous image controls, image caching, etc), and it also wants to initialize itself during the window.onload event which I don't want in my Ajax apps.

So, wrote my own Lightbox Lite. Well, technically, I extracted my own Lightbox Lite from the Lightbox2 code with a few modifications.

To begin with, I added this block of HTML to my web page. The Lightbox2 code constructs this dynamically in its initialize function, but I don't see the advantage of that vs just hard coding it into the page to begin with.

<div id="photo" style="display:none">
<div id="lightbox">
<div id="outerImageContainer">
<div id="imageContainer">
<img id="lightboxImage" style="display:none"></img>
<div id="imageloading">
<img src="images/loadingImage.gif">
<div id="imageDataContainer" style="display:none">
<div id="imageData">
<div id="imageDetails">
<span id="imagecaption"></span>
<div id="imageBottomNav" onclick="LightBoxLite.reset();" style="float:right" >
<img src="images/close-button.png" alt="Close" title="Close">

Then I added the relevant CSS rules to my stylesheet:

#photo {
z-index: 51;
position: absolute;
top: 5px;
left: 1px;
width: 100%;

#outerImageContainer {
background-color: white;
width: 250px;
height: 250px;
margin: 0 auto;

#imageContainer {
padding-top: 10px;

#imageloading {
position: absolute;
top: 40%;
left: 47.5%;

#imageDataContainer {
font: 10px Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif;
background-color: white;
margin: 0 auto;
line-height: 1.4em;
overflow: auto;
width: 100%;
padding-bottom: 5px;

#imageData {
padding: 0 10px;
color: #666;

#imageData #imageDetails {
width: 80%;
float: left;
text-align: left;

#imageData #imageCaption {
font-weight: bold;

Next I added the Lightbox Lite code to my JavaScript (note, you still need prototype.js and

LightBoxLite = function() {

var borderSize = 10;
var resizeDuration = 0.6;

* resizeImageContainer
* @param {Number} desired width
* @param {Number} desired height
function resizeImageContainer( imgWidth, imgHeight) {

// get current width and height
var widthCurrent = $('outerImageContainer').getWidth();
var heightCurrent = $('outerImageContainer').getHeight();

// get new width and height
var widthNew = (imgWidth + (borderSize * 2));
var heightNew = (imgHeight + (borderSize * 2));

// scalars based on change from old to new
var xScale = ( widthNew / widthCurrent) * 100;
var yScale = ( heightNew / heightCurrent) * 100;

// calculate size difference between new and old image, and resize if necessary
var wDiff = widthCurrent - widthNew;
var hDiff = heightCurrent - heightNew;

if (!( hDiff === 0)) {
new Effect.Scale('outerImageContainer', yScale, {scaleX: false, duration: resizeDuration, queue: 'front'});
if (!( wDiff === 0)) {
new Effect.Scale('outerImageContainer', xScale, {scaleY: false, delay: resizeDuration, duration: resizeDuration});

$('imageDataContainer').style.width = widthNew + "px";


* updateDetails
function updateDetails() {
var caption = $('lightboxImage').src.split('/').pop().split('.')[0].gsub("%20", " ");
$('imagecaption').innerHTML = caption;

new Effect.Parallel(
[ new Effect.SlideDown( 'imageDataContainer', { sync: true, duration: resizeDuration, from: 0.0, to: 1.0 }),
new Effect.Appear('imageDataContainer', { sync: true, duration: resizeDuration }) ]

* showImage
* Display image and begin preloading neighbors.
function showImage() {
new Effect.Appear('lightboxImage', { duration: resizeDuration, queue: 'end', afterFinish: updateDetails });

function checkForPreloadComplete(imgPreloader) {
if (imgPreloader.complete) {
$('lightboxImage').src = imgPreloader.src;
resizeImageContainer(imgPreloader.width, imgPreloader.height);
} else {
setTimeout(checkForPreloadComplete.bind(this, imgPreloader), 100);
return {
* displayImage
* display an image in a lightbox
* @param {String} URL of image
displayImage : function(imageUrl) {

var imgPreloader = new Image();
imgPreloader.src = imageUrl;

// once image is preloaded, resize image container
setTimeout(checkForPreloadComplete.bind(this, imgPreloader), 100);

reset : function() {
$('lightboxImage').src = "";
$('outerImageContainer').style.width = "250px";
$('outerImageContainer').style.height = "250px";


The only alteration you have to do to your ImageFlow images is to add a call to the LightBoxLite.displayImage function in the longdesc attribute of your images, which should currently have the address of the original image to display when you click on it in the image flow. So, instead of:

<img src="reflect.php?img=myimage.jpg" longdesc="myimage.jpg" alt="myimage" />

It becomes:

<img src="reflect.php?img=myimage.jpg" longdesc="javascript:LightBoxLite.displayImage('myimage.jpg')" alt="myimage" />

Here is an example of it being used.

Update January 20: I tweaked a couple CSS rules to correctly center the loading indicator for Internet Explorer.

Update January 23: I received a request to package my modifications. See my new blog entry where I have done that in addition to demonstrating how to add Ajax to receive the image list.


nev said...

That looks fantastic! But do you have a zip file with the working files? It's getting hard to see what's generated by the js and what isn't!

nev said...

OK I managed to replicate this...

One thing.. is this non-validating line written right:

[ img id="lightboxImage" style="display:none" /]

(html brackets changed)

I know this is the js output you hard-coded, and js can write some weird stuff, but is it right?

Steven Pothoven said...

That should be fine. If you run it through something like the W3C validator you'll get an error saying, required attribute "SRC" not specified.
The attribute given above is required for an element that you've used, but you have omitted it.

However,the browser should be ok with it allowing you to define the src in the lightbox code. In the W3C validator, you'll probably also get an error about not "alt" attribute, feel free to add one.
What error are you getting?

nev said...

Well you can see it isn't xhtml! Of course it won't pass any xhtml validator - but all that's a minor thing.. I was just wondering if I picked up a typo.

Anonymous said...

Hi! i would prefer this version of "imageflow" - its excellent, especially for my needs!

i did try to include these stuff above in my code, but i didn't work, i've always some terrible bugs in my layout ...

So i like to ask you too: do you have a downloadable file with the working files?


Steven Pothoven said...

Sure, I'll package it up.

Steven Pothoven said...

In response to nev's early message, the line:

<img id="lightboxImage" style="display:none">

should be changed to:

<img id="lightboxImage" style="display:none"></img>

or you get a validation error that img should be an empty element.

Blogmenot said...

Hi Dennis,

Why not use lytebox instead and add a function:

<script language="javascript">
var timeoutID = null;
function loadLytebox(id) {
if (typeof myLytebox != 'undefined') {
// if the myLytebox object exists, start it up!
} else {
// wait 1/10th of a second and attempt loading again...
if (timeoutID) { clearTimeout(timeoutID); }
timeoutID = setTimeout('loadLytebox("'+id+'")', 1000);

and ref like
<a id="1" title="" rel="lytebox[start]" href="images_l/xxx.jpg"></a>
on the page
and in the imageflow.js
loadLytebox(this.getAttribute('id')); }