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Using the J/K keys for Content Navigation

If anyone has ever been to the Boston Globe’s The Big Picture or FFFFOUND! you may have used your keyboard to navigate through a page’s content. The j (forward) and k (backward) keys use as navigation has started to trickle into modern sites. Even Google’s Gmail uses this convention to navigate between emails.

I wanted to give it a try so I’ve created a sample jQuery plugin (not really all that full-featured) that offers similar functionality as The Big Picture. Try out the demo with some pics of a graffiti-ridden water tower.

The code is pretty straight forward. It simply finds all images inside the given container.


Keeping track of the currentImage variable was a bit tricky so if anyone has any optimizations, let me know.

Tested in Safari 4.0.4 and Firefox 3.5.7.

Download sample plugin

(function($) {
		jkNavigation: function(options) {
			return this.each(function() {
				new $.JKNavigation(this, options);
	$.JKNavigation = function(element, options) {
		var defaults = {
			// no options at the moment
		this.options		= $.extend({}, defaults, options || {});
		this.element		= $(element);
		this.images			= $('img', this.element);
		this.currentImage	= null;;
	$.extend($.JKNavigation.prototype, {
		run: function() {
			self = this;
			$(window).bind('keydown', function(event) {
				var key = event.keyCode;
				switch(key) {
					case 74:
						if(self.currentImage == null) {
							self.currentImage = 0;
						} else if(!(self.currentImage == self.images.length - 1)) {
					case 75:
						if(self.currentImage == null) {
						} else if(!(self.currentImage == 0)) {
				var img = self.images.eq(self.currentImage);
				var pos = img.offset().top;
				$('html, body').scrollTop(pos);

Dot vs. Square Bracket Notation in Javascript

I have been looking for an explanation on this for a while. This article summed it right up, Javascript Square Bracket Notation

Javascript also offers an alternative property accessor notation using square brackets in a way that is similar to the way in which the indexed members of an Array are accessed, except that a string is used between the square brackets. This alternative notation is extremely powerful and useful but gets very little coverage in most books on javascript and that seems to leave novice javascript programmers unaware that they even have this option.

Using square bracket notation you can change this:


into this:


More importantly though, you can use variables as function names:

var genericString = 'Hello, my name is Ryan.';

var stringMethod = 'split';

genericString[stringMethod](' ');

// returns the array ["Hello,", "my", "name", "is", "Ryan."]

Copyright © Ryan Fitzer 2010. All rights reserved.

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