Using jsTree as a radio input

While adapting existing code to create a Basic LTI connector for Questionmark Perception, we needed some way of allowing administrators to choose which one of our many hundreds of assessments students using the same link should see. As the assessments are organised into folders, jsTree seemed the obvious way to present them.

jsTree does come with a plugin which allows users to tick check boxes next to each node, and there is even an option to allow only one chcek box to be selected at a time, reproducing radio button functionality. However, check boxes just don’t say ‘Pick one’ to me. Instead, we decided to use jsTree’s UI plugin and a hidden form field to deliver something that behaves as if there were a radio button next to each leaf node the tree.

The tree is created from nested unordered lists e.g:

<div id="tree_container">
    <ul>
        <li id="73053976"><a href="#">Folder 1</a>
            <ul>
                <li id="1223099925"><a href="#">Folder 1.1</a>
                    <ul>
                        <li id="7312166358986135"><a href="#">Assessment 1.1-1</a></li>
                        <li id="0272148079818008"><a href="#">Assessment 1.1-2</a></li>
                    </ul>
                </li>
                <li id="8430544147035550"><a href="#">Assessment 1-1</a></li>
                <li id="3489131659907643"><a href="#">Assessment 1-2</a></li>
            </ul>
        </li>
        <li id="759603613"><a href="#">Folder 2</a>
            <ul>
                <li id="8842542540288867"><a href="#">Assessment 2-1</a></li>
                <li id="5658598094790998"><a href="#">Assessment 2-2</a></li>
            </ul>
        </li>
    </ul>
</div>

Each list item has an id and those which contain other assessments (i.e. are folders) are given a class of folder.

There is also a form:

<form action="mypage.php" method="POST">
     <input id="selected_node_id" type="hidden" name="selected_node_id"></input> 
     <input type="submit" id="save_button" value="Save change" disabled="disabled" />
</form>

This contains a hidden input which will be used to post selected node id.

And a span to show the currently saved node_id:

<p>Currently selected:<strong><span id="selected_node_text"></span></strong></p>

The jsTree is then created, using the HTML_DATA plugin, as follows:

var dirty=false; //keep track of whether changes need to be saved
$(function () {
    $("#tree_container")
        .jstree({ 
            "plugins" : [ "themes", "html_data", "ui"],
              "themes" : {
                   "theme" : "classic",
                "dots" : true,
                "icons" : true
                  },
              "ui" : {
                  "select_limit" : 1  //only allow one node to be selected at a time
                  <?php if(isset($_SESSION['saved_node_id'])&&$_SESSION['saved_node_id']!='') echo ', "initially_select" : ['.$_SESSION['saved_node_id'].']'; ?>
                  }
            })
        .bind("select_node.jstree", function(event,data) {
            var this_node = data.rslt.obj;
            event.preventDefault(); //stop any link from being followed
            if(this_node.attr("class").indexOf('folder') != -1){
                $("#selected_node_id").val('');  //this is a folder so empty hidden input
                return data.inst.toggle_node(this_node);   //toogle closed/open state of this node to display/hide contents
                }
            else {
                $("#selected_node_id").val(this_node.attr("id")); //this is a leaf/assessment so set hidden input value to id
                if(this_node.attr("id")!=<?php echo $saved_node_id ?>){   //selected node is not the same as that previously saved so enable save and set dirty
                    document.getElementById('save_button').disabled = false;
                    dirty=true;
                    }
                else{ //selected node hasn't cnaged from that saved so diable save and unset dirty
                    document.getElementById('save_button').disabled = true; 
                    $("#selected_node_text").text(this_node.children("a").text()); //this is really only used to set selected_node_text when jsTree loads
                    dirty=false;
                    }
                }
            })
    });

Points to note:

  • "select_limit" : 1

    indicates that only one node may be selected at any one time;

  • the value of initially_select is set from the saved_node_id (which corresponds to a node/li id) if this is present in the session. This selects the previously selected node when the jsTree is loaded;
  • .bind("select_node.jstree", function(event,data) {

    deals with events when a node is selected and is also fired if initially_select is specified.

And finally, to ensure user doesn’t leave page before changes have been saved:

window.onbeforeunload = function(e) {
    if (dirty) return "You have not saved your choice.";
    }

Watch this space for how this is integrated into our new Basic LTI connector.

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