A jQuery plugin
Feb 8, 2012 - 01 a.m.

The other day, in line with my goals for the year, I was working on my family gift distribution project White Elephant. One of my goals for the project has been to push myself toward better page and user interaction design. I've always been a back end sort of guy, telling myself that because I had the know how to code things that I had no reason to care about how those things looked or felt to a user. I've come to realize that assumption is pretty stupid. Taking time to not only make things look pretty, but also make them easy to use is what sets apart outstanding projects from the crummy ones. At this point, I'm a ways from creating the cool things that I want, so actively making myself practice is a step in the right direction.

So back to the main point. I was putting a very stripped down form into a confined space, and instead of having a label next to each input, I thought it would be neat to have some greyed out text that told the user what went in the box. When they clicked the input, the text would disappear and the text they typed would look normal, not greyed out. If you clicked away without typing anything, the original hint text would come back. It looks like this:

I thought it was a clever solution, and that perhaps others would like to use it, so I wrote it as a jQuery plugin. This was a process that took me through the weird world of javascript objects and closures. Things I've touched before, but they always seem a little weird. I found the tutorial on writing jQuery plugins very helpful, and quite instructive about javascript objects as well. You can get the plugin from my bitbucket.