jQuery: Aufruf von Objekt-Methoden im Rahmen der Event-Behandlung und der .each()-Funktion für Selektionen

Will man Funktionalitäten, die man in Javascript/jQuery-Projekten erfolgreich entwickelt hat, wiederverwenden, muss man modular arbeiten und seine Funktionen in übergeordneten Einheiten kapseln. Wie einige meiner Leser wissen, versuche ich diese Anforderungen u.a. über die Etablierung abstrakter Control-Objects [CtrlOs] und definierte "Methoden" solcher Objekte umzusetzen.

Einerseits können Konstruktorfunktionen für abstrakte CtrlOs über ihren "prototype" zusammenhängende funktionale Verfahren im Sinne einer reinen Funktionalklasse bündeln.
Anderseits repräsentieren CtrlOs in meinen Web-Projekten bei Bedarf aber auch zusammenhängende Web-Bereiche sowie deren konkrete HTML-Objekte. Sie bündeln dann alle erforderlichen Methoden zum Umgang mit Ereignissen auf diesen Objekten. CtrlOs abstrahieren dabei soweit als möglich von der konkreten HTML-Ausprägung und führen zu einer allgemeineren Repräsentation bestimmter HTML-Schlüssel-Objekte im JS-Code - wenn nötig über die Definition weiterer geeigneter Unter-Objekte des CtrlOs. Wiederverwendbarkeit reduziert sich dann meist auf ein geeignetes Matching der IDs von Schlüsselelementen sowie ein Matching von Selektionskriterien für einen neuen Anwendungskontext (sprich für eine andere Webseite).

Beispiele:
Für die Steuerung einer Bildgalerie auf unterschiedlichen Webseiten ist z.B. lediglich der übergeordnete Container für die Bilder zu bestimmen und es sind geeignete Kriterien zur jQuery-Selektion der beinhalteten Bilder über Parameter zu definieren. Und schon können die meisten vordefinierten Methoden des CtrlOs wieder zum Einsatz kommen. Ein anderes Beispiel würde etwa die Kontrolle der Ajax-Interaktionen eines normierten Form-Elements mit einem PHP-Server zur Durchführung und Statusüberwachung eines Dateiuploads bieten. Auch hier lassen sich alle Funktionalitäten in Methoden eines relativ abstrakten und wiederverwendbaren CtrlOs bündeln.

Unter "Methoden" verstehe ich dabei allgemeine Funktionsobjekte, die als Elemente der fundamentalen "prototype"-Eigenschaft der Konstruktor-Funktionen für das CtrlO und ggf. der Konstruktorfunktionen für Sub-Objekte des CtrlO definiert werden. (In Javascript stellen Funktionen Objekte dar.)

Ziel ist es also, die gesamte Event-Behandlung und auch andere Aufgaben vollständig über "Methoden" eines für die jeweilige Aufgabe "fachlich" zuständigen CtrlOs und eventueller passend definierter Unterobjekte abzuwickeln. Das CtrlO entspricht somit einem (Singleton-) Container, der die Funktionalität zur Abwicklung aller auftretenden Ereignisse und Aufgaben in geordneter und wiederverwendbarer Weise kapselt. (Über den "prototype"-Mechanismus lässt sich dann natürlich auch eine "Vererbung" in komplexeren Projekten realisieren.)

Nun ist jQuery ursprünglich nicht auf eine solche Logik ausgerichtet; es sind daher ein paar Klimmzüge erforderlich, um HTML-Objekte einer Webseite mit Methoden abstrakter JS-Objekte zu koppeln. Vor allem der this-Operator und sein unter jQuery oftmals wechselnder Kontext führen dabei immer wieder zu Missverständnissen und Kapriolen.

So lenken jQuery's Event-Behandlungs-Funktionen, die für jQuery-Objekte (Selektionen) ausgeführt werden, den this-Kontext in den aufgerufenen Callback-Funktionen auf das jeweilige HTML-Element um. Sind die Callbacks nun Methoden eines CtrlO-Objekts, so passt dies meist nicht zu der Erwartung, die den Entwickler beim Methoden-Design geleitet haben dürfte - nämlich, dass this in der Methode auf das CtrlO-Objekt selbst verweist.

Ich werfe daher zunächst einen Blick auf den $.proxy()-Mechanismus, der einem unter jQuery zumindest im Fall des Event-Handlings hilft, die erforderlichen Aufgaben an CtrlO-Methoden zu delegieren und den Kontext des this-Operators gezielt auf das CtrlO selbst zu setzen.

Danach wende ich mich einer Frage zu, mit der man es auch immer wieder zu tun bekommt:

Wenn man innerhalb einer CtrlO-Methode über eine Selektion von HTML-Objekten mittels der jQuery-Objekt-Funktion $(..).each( ...) iteriert - wie delegiert man dann die anstehenden Aufgaben zur Behandlung der selektierten HTML-Objekte an eine (andere) geeignete "Methode" des abstrakten CtrlOs?
Und wie nutzt man dabei den this-Operator, so dass wir einerseits eine Referenz auf das CtrlO selbst und andererseits aber auch eine Referenz auf das aktuell zu behandelnde HTML-Objekt erhalten?

Wir werden sehen, dass sich der Aufruf der gewünschten CtrlO-Methode nicht ganz so bequem wie im Falle der Event-Behandlung über den $.proxy()-Mechanismus bewerkstelligen lässt; wir werden aber auch sehen, dass ein solcher Aufruf über einen kleinen Trick durchaus auf einfache Weise und ohne Informationsverlust möglich ist.

CtrlOs und Einsatz des $.proxy()-Verfahrens zur Delegation der Event-Behandlung an Objekt-Methoden bei gleichzeitiger Kontrolle des this-Operators

Das Abfangen von Events und die anschließende Delegation der funktionalen Bearbeitung an Methoden eines CtrlOs kann man relativ bequem über den $.proxy()-Mechanismus erledigen. Man registriert dazu im Rahmen der Definition der Event-Behandlung mittels geeigneter jQuery-Objekt-Funktionen (wie etwa "click()" ) die Funktion $.proxy() als primären Callback der Event-Behandlungs-Funktion - also z.B. click( $.proxy(), ...). Der Funktion $.proxy() selbst wird dann einerseits eine Kontext-Referenz und eine Methode des CtrlO zur Event-Behandlung als Callback übergeben. Diese Verschachtelung von Callbacks hört sich kompliziert an - sie ist faktisch aber sehr bequem. Der Ansatz führt typischerweise zu Code-Abschnitten der unten angegebenen Art.

Voraussetzungen: GOC ("Global Object Controller") definiert im Beispiel ein globales Objekt; um ein Zumüllen des globalen Kontextes zu vermeiden, werden die benötigten CtrlOs im GOC erzeugt. Wir nehmen für unser Beispiel vereinfachend an, dass die IDs benötigter HTML-Elemente über irgendwelche Parameter ermittelbar sind.


GOC = new Constr_GOC(); 

function Constr_GOC() {
    ....	
    this["CtrlO_Form"] = new Constr_CtrlO_Form( ...parameterS ...); 
    ....
    this["CtrlO_Form"].register_form_events(); 
    ...
}

//  Constructor of a CtrlO for a certain form-Tag  
// -----------------------------------------------
function Constr_CtrlO_Form(... parameters ...) {
    ....
    // gather or define concrete IDs of relevant HTML-objects 
    // by some appropriate evaluation methods
  
    this.id_form     = "#" + " ... (evaluation of parameters) ..."; 	
    this.id_rad_stat = "#" + ...; 	
    this.id_rad_heur = "#" + ...;
    this.id_but_chk  = "#" + ...;
    .....
    ....
}

// Proxy solution to register event handlers for HTML-elements   
// -----------------------------------------------------------
// The behaviour of the HTML-elements shall be controlled by CtrlO-methods 

Constr_CtrlO_Form.prototype.register_form_events = function() {
	
	console.log("From Form - registering event handlers for some key elements of the form");
		
	// Click on any of the radio buttons
	// ----------------------------------
       	$(this.id_rad_stat).click(
       	    jQuery.proxy(this, 'radio_click')
      	);
        $(this.id_rad_heur).click(
            jQuery.proxy(this, 'radio_click')
        );
        $(this.id_rad_both).click(
            jQuery.proxy(this, 'radio_click')
        );
			
	// Button_Click 
	// ----------------
	$(this.id_but_chk).click(
	    jQuery.proxy(this, 'click_event')
	); 
		
	// Submit Event 
	// ------------
	$(this.id_form).submit(
	    jQuery.proxy(this, 'submit_ajax_chkfiles')
	); 
			
};	

// Methods of the CtrlO 
// ------------------------------- 
Constr_CtrlO_Form.prototype.radio_click = function(e) {
    .....
    e.preventDefault(); 
    // get the JS-pointer to the HTML-Object for which the event e was triggered   	
    var pointerToHtmlObject = e.target;  	
    ....
    // var attribute = $(pointerToHtmlObject).attr(.....); 
    ....	
}
Constr_CtrlO_Form.prototype.click_event = function(e) {
    ....
}
Constr_CtrlO_Form.prototype.submit_ajax_chkfiles = function(e) {
    ...
}

 
Zuerst werden die IDs relevanter HTML-Schlüssel-Objekte anhand verfahrensspezifischer Kriterien identifiziert. Dann werden Event-Listener und -Handler für diese HTML-Objekte über geeignete jQuery-Funktionen registriert. Die Callbacks 'radio_click', 'click_event', 'submit_ajax_chkfiles' entsprechen im Beispiel Methoden, die über den prototype der Konstruktorfunktion für das instanziierte CtrlO bereitgestellt werden. Der this-Parameter, der an die $.proxy()-Funktion übergeben wurde, weist dabei auf das Objekt "CtrlO_Form" - dieses wiederum ist ein Element des GOC.

Der Aufruf von Callbacks als Event-Handler über jQuery-Objekt-Funktionen wie ".click()" führt dazu, dass der this-Operator innerhalb der im Eventfall ausgelösten Funktion auf das HTML-Objekt (!) verweist. Dies gilt auch, wenn der Callback eine Objektmethode sein sollte. jQuery setzt intern den Kontext für den this-Operator in expliziter Weise! Das führt regelmäßig zur Problemen, da ein Entwickler bei der Ausformulierung von Methoden als Teil des "prototype" eines Konstruktors in der Regel erwartet, dass this auf das (später) erzeugte Objekt zeigen wird.

Das Zwischenschalten der $.proxy()-Funktion sorgt im obigen Beispiel deshalb dafür, dass die jeweils genannte Methode zur Eventbehandlung aufgerufen wird und dass der this-Operator innerhalb der aufgerufenen Methode (wie erwartet) auf das CtrlO und nicht auf das HTML-Objekt zeigt, für das der Event ausgelöst wurde.

Wie aber erhält man nun in der CtrlO-Methode einen Zeiger auf das HTML-Object? Nun dies ist über das Event-Objekt von JS möglich, dass der Methode über den proxy()-Mechanismus automatisch übergeben wird:

Constr_CtrlO_Form.prototype.radio_click = function(e) {...}

e.target liefert dann den gewünschten Zeiger auf das HTML-Objekt. Dieser Zeiger lässt sich dann wiederum für jQuery-Selektionen und zugehörige Funktionen einsetzen.

Der $.proxy()-Mechanismus erlaubt so die vollständige Übergabe der Event-Behandlung an Methoden abstrakter Objekte. Das Verfahren lässt sich im Gegensatz zum Beispiel natürlich auch auf den Aufruf der Methoden anderer Objekte als des aktuell aktiven Objekts verallgemeinern.

jQuery's .each()-Funktion und der this-Operator

Das obige Beispiel hat verdeutlicht, dass die Kontrolle über den this-Operator für die Delegation der Eventbehandlung an abstrakte Objekt-Methoden wichtig ist.

Nun delegiert auch die Funktion .each() eines jQuery-Objekts (sprich einer Selektion), die Durchführung von Aufgaben im Zusammenhang mit jedem der identifizierten HTML-Objekten an eine Funktion, die als Callback mit vordefinierten Parametern - nämlich (index, element) - festgelegt werden muss (s. https://api.jquery.com/each/). Wie lenkt man die Aufgabendurchführung aber statt dessen auf eine passende Methode eines CtrlOs um? Und wohin weist der this-Operator innerhalb der zu definierenden Callback-Funktion?

Betrachten wir zunächst, wie die .each()-Funktion im Zusammenhang mit Selektionen praktisch zum Einsatz kommt. Wir nehmen im nachfolgenden Beispiel an, dass bestimmte IMG-Tags einer Bilder-Galerie durch die CSS-Klasse "enlarge" gekennzeichnet sein sollen. Die Verwendung von .each() sieht dann im einfachsten Fall etwa so aus:


// iterate over all (IMG-) tags with css class="enlarge"
// -----------------------------------------------------
$(".enlarge").each(
	function () {
		// Note: this in this function points to the HTML object, here an identified IMG tag 
		.....
		// Code to perform actions, e.g. on the HTML object
		// console.log("id des HTML-Elements : " + $(this).attr("id"); 
		..... 	
	}	
);

 
Wir führen eine Selektion durch und definieren innerhalb von each() eine Callback-Funktion, die dann bestimmte Dinge im Zusammenhang mit jedem der ermittelten HTML-Objekte des DOM-Baums der Webseite durchführt. Z.B. könnten wir dessen Attribute oder CSS-Eigenschaften verändern oder aber Event-Listener implementieren, etc..

Wichtig ist, sich zu vergegenwärtigen, dass der this-Operator innerhalb der Funktion "function() {...}", die pro Element der Selektion ausgeführt werden soll, auf das aktuell betroffene HTML-Element verweist! Gemeint ist hier tatsächlich die JS-Referenz auf den DOM-Knoten - und kein JQuery-Objekt einer Selektion. Dieser Unterschied ist wichtig : Will man nämlich jQuery-Funktionen, die für Selektionen (also ein jQuery-Objekt) definiert sind, anwenden, so ist zuvor $(this) zu bilden !

"function() {...}" muss bestimmte formale Voraussetzungen bzgl. der Parameter erfüllen. Deshalb kann man "function() {...}" nicht so ohne weiteres durch Callback-Verweise auf beliebige Funktionsobjekte des JS-Codes ersetzen. Es ergibt sich daher die Frage:

Wie kann man über die innerhalb von each() definierten Callback-Funktion "function() {...}" Methoden eines CtrlOs aufrufen und die Referenz auf den DOM-Knoten dabei weiterverwenden?

Nehmen wir mal an, unser Code-Schnipsel von oben sei Teil einer Methode eines CtrlOs, welches wiederum als Element eines globalen Objects GOC definiert sei. Innerhalb des CtrlO-Konstruktors werde im Beispiel eine Initialisierungs-Methode "init_img_control()" aufgerufen; sie möge die Selektion von (IMG-) Tags anhand der CSS-Klase "enlarge" durchführen und pro (IMG-) Tag Aktionen zur späteren Bildkontrolle ausführen. Diese Aktionen seien in der Methode "set_img_nr()" des CtrlO definiert:


GOC = new Constr_GOC(); 

function Constr_GOC() {

    ....
    this.CtrlO_Manipulate_Pics = new this['Constr_CtrlO_Manipulate_Pics']( ...parameter, ...);
    ....
    ....
    // Konstruktor eines CtrlO - this refers to the GOC 
    // -----------------------
    this.Constr_CtrlO_Manipulate_Pics = function(.. parameter, ...) {
        ....
        var numOfImgs = 0; 
        ....
        // "this" refers here to the CtrlO which is created via the present constructor 		
        ...
        this.init_img_control();
        .... 
    };

    // CtrlO-Methode init_img_control()
    // -----------------------------------	
    this['Constr_CtrlO_Manipulate_Pics'].prototype.init_img_control = function() {
	
        // this refers to the CtrlO
        ....
        $(".enlarge").each(
            function () {
                // Note: this points here to an HTML object, 
                // an identified img tag with the CSS class "enlarge" 
                ....
                // Code to perform actions, e.g. on the HTML object

                // console.log("id des HTML-Elements : " + $(this).attr("id"); 

                // ... We WANT TO CALL set_img_nr() - BUT HOW TO DO IT PROPERLY ??? ....
                .....
            }	
        );
        .....
        .....
    };

    // CtrlO-Methode set_img_nr() - to be used for each IMG-tag
    // -----------------------------------------------------------	
    this['Constr_CtrlO_Manipulate_Pics'].prototype.set_img_nr = function(ref_to_img_tag) {
        ....
        var img_nr = 0; 
        // Count the number of identified IMG tags
        this.numOfImgs++; 
        img_nr = this.numOfImgs; 
        ... 
        $(ref_to_img_tag).attr("imgNum", img_nr.toString() );  
        ....
    };

}

 
Wir haben hier nebenbei für Interessierte noch eine weitere zusätzliche Kapselung im GOC vorgeführt:

Die Konstruktor-Funktion für das CtrlO kann selbst als Element des globalen GOC definiert werden. Das GOC-Objekt erzeugt dann das CtrlO als weiteres Unterobjekt durch expliziten Verweis auf das als Konstruktor zu verwendende Funktionsobjekt (this["Name_des_Funktionsobjekts"]) nach dem new-Operator. Dass sowas tatsächlich geht, ist hier aber nur eine Randnotiz (siehe hierzu den Blog-Artikel Javascript: Einsatz des new-Operators mit Variablen und dynamischer Vorgabe der Konstruktorfunktion).

Im Beispiel wird per "$(..).each()"-Funktion über selektierten Objekte iteriert; wir möchten dabei z.B. gerne jedes der per $(".enlarge") ermittelten <IMG>-Tags um eine neues künstliches Attribut ergänzen; so könnten wir in diesem Attribut etwa eine Nummer hinterlegen, die wir später zur Identifikation des Bildes nutzen. Die Attribut-Ergänzung soll im Beispiel über die Methode "set_img_nr()" des CtrlOs GOC["CtrlO_Manipulate_Pics"] geschehen.

Das Dumme ist nun, dass this innerhalb von "function() {...}" auf das aktuell identifizierte HTML-Element - also ein <IMG class="enlarge" ... >-Tag - verweist. Wir müssen das CtrlO daher anders referenzieren. Aus Gründen der besseren Wiederverwendbarkeit wollen wir zur Identifikation des CtrlOs aber keinen Bezug auf eine explizite Bezeichnung von Unterobjekten des GOC heranziehen; wir woll vielmehr auf ein geeignetes "this" zurückgreifen, das unmittelbar auf das CtrlO verweist. Andererseits soll aber die CtrlO-Methode "set_img_nr()" auch einen Verweis auf den aktuellen HTML-Knoten (also das IMG-Tag) als Parameter erhalten.

Ein wenig Nachdenken führt zu folgender Lösung für die Methode init_img_control() :


    this['Constr_CtrlO_Manipulate_Pics'].prototype.init_img_control = function() {
	
        // this still refers to the CtrlO
        ....
        ....
        // Use a helper variable to store the reference to the CtrlO

       var this_CtrlO = this;  // "this_CtrlO" points to the CtrlO (=GOC["CtrlO_Manipulate_Pics"])
                               // we could have called the helper variable also "that"
        ....
        $(".enlarge").each(
            function () {
                // Note: "this" now points to the HTML object, here an identified img tag 
                // Note: the variable "this_CtrlO" is found by implicit search in nested JS-functions 
                ....				
                .....
                // Code to perform actions, e.g. on the HTML object
                // console.log("id des HTML-Elements : " + $(this).attr("id");
                .....
                // we refer to the appropriate method of the CtrlO via the helper variable  
                // and provide the reference to the <IMG> tag (=this) as a parameter 

                this_CtrlO.set_img_nr(this); 
                ....
            }	
        );
        .....	
    };

 
Alles gut!
Der Profi erkennt sofort den klassischen Trick: Wir merken uns vor der Durchführung der jQuery-Selektion die Referenz auf das CtrlO in einer lokalen Hilfs-Variablen "this_CtrlO". Da wir uns vor der Selektion ja noch im Kontext einer gewöhnlichen Objekt-Methode befinden, verweist "this" dort ja noch auf das übergeordnete Objekt.

In der Callback-Funktion "function() {...}", die innerhalb von .each() definiert wird, rufen wir dann die gewünschte Methode des CtrlO explizit unter Nutzung der Objekt-Referenz "this_CtrlO.Methodenname" auf. Die Variable wird im Lösungsansatz durch implizite Suche im Kontext der umgebenden, kapselnden Funktion init_img_control() gefunden.

Innerhalb der Callback-Funktion "function() {...}" verweist this nun jedoch auf das aktuell zu behandelnde HTML-Objekt der Selektion. Diese Referenz auf das HTML-Objekt können wir deshalb als Parameter (this) an die Objektmethode übergeben. Das zu bearbeitende HTML-Objekt kann danach auch in der CtrlO-Methode eindeutig identifiziert und bearbeitet werden.

Hinweis: Das zwischenzeitliche Speichern der this-Referenz in einer anderen Variablen entspricht in anderen Lehrbuchbeispielen oft dem Einsatz einer Hilfsvariablen "that".

Unschöne impliziter Variablen-Suche

Wir haben uns mit dem obigen Lösungsansatz allerdings ein unschönes Thema für die Code-Pflege eingehandelt, das mit dem Hoisting von Variablen in Funktionen zu tun hat und in komplexeren Codes bei Unachtsamkeit zu Problemen führen kann: Die Variable "this_CtrlO" darf innerhalb von "function() {...}" an keiner Stelle über var-Statements redefiniert werden - auch nicht nach dem Statement "this_CtrlO.set_img_nr(this);". Man erkennt leider nicht zwingend, dass es sich eigentlich um einen Parameter handelt, der nach unten durchgereicht wird. Das würde man gerne etwas expliziter sehen.

Man könnte diesem Thema einerseits dadurch ausweichen, dass man die Werte in Variablen speichert, die über das GOC explizit adressiert werden. Das würde unsere Kapselung aber auch wieder durchbrechen. Besser erscheint eine Übergabe der Referenz als Parameter in den each()-Bereich. Ein anderer Ansatz besteht deshalb in der expliziten Übergabe an eine sog. "immediate function" - das ist zwar auch nicht optimal, aber schon ein wenig besser. Man erkennt die Variable wenigstens als Parameter. Ganz nach unten durchreichen kann man die Referenz auf das CtrlO in diesem Falle halt leider nicht.


    this['Constr_CtrlO_Manipulate_Pics'].prototype.init_img_control = function() {

        // this still refers to the CtrlO
        ....
        ....
        // Use a helper variable to store the reference to the CtrlO

        var this_CtrlO = this;  // "this_CtrlO" points to the CtrlO (=GOC["CtrlO_Manipulate_Pics"])
                                // we could have called the helper variable also "that"
        ....
        ( function (pointer_CtrlO) {	
              $(".enlarge").each(
                  function () {
                      // Note: "this" now points to the HTML object, here an identified img tag 
	
                      // get external reference to the CtrlO
                      var CtrlO = pointer_CtrlO; // best at the top of the function code 
                      ....				
                      .....
                      CtrlO.set_img_nr(this); 
                      ....
                  }	
              );
          }
        )(this_CtrlO);
        .....	
    };

 
Man beachte: Die "immediate function" wird im Kontext des vorliegenden Beispiels in der Initialisierungssfunktion "init_img_control" nur genau einmal ausgeführt.

Fazit

Über die Callback-Funktion, die innerhalb der ".each()"-Funktion für Selektionen zu definieren ist, lassen sich auch Methoden eines abstrakten Control Objects [CtrlO] zur Behandlung der selektierten HTML-Objekte aufrufen. Das gilt selbst dann, wenn die Selektion $(..).each( ..) innerhalb einer anderen Methode desselben CtrlOs vorgenommen wird. Dem Kontextwechsel des this-Operators in den verschiedenen Code-Bereichen der Funktionen beugt man durch rechtzeitige Zwischenspeicherung in einer geeigneten lokalen Hilfsvariable im Scope der kapselnden Methode vor. Die this-Referenz auf das selektierte, aktuell zu behandelnde HTML-Objekt kann man den CtrlO-Methoden als Parameter übergeben. Damit können Aufgaben, die im Rahmen von .each() durchzuführen sind, vollständig an geeignete Methoden von Control Objects delegiert werden.

Viel Spaß weiterhin mit jQuery, Javascript und der Kapselung von Funktionalität in Objekt-Methoden.

Responsive fluid multi-column layouts – main menu control with JS/jQuery and font-size adaption – V

We continue with our series on responsive and at the same time fluid layouts with multiple columns :

Responsive fluid multi-column layouts - the DIV order problem - I
Responsive fluid multi-column layouts - the DIV order problem - II
Responsive fluid multi-column layouts - the DIV order problem - III
Responsive fluid multi-column layouts – with a responsive horizontal menu – IV

In the first article we had posed the problem of a required DIV order for an efficient realization of responsive fluid layouts. A complete overview over our responsive test scenario and over related HTML/CSS codes was given in articles II and III. In the fourth article of the series we looked at the responsive adaption of an originally horizontal menu to different viewport width ranges. So far all without Javascript [JS].

At small viewport widths (our so called viewport width Range I; see the second article of this series for a definition of viewport width ranges) we offered a "menu button" instead of a complete horizontal menu line. A mouseOver event over the button container (and in smartphones a tap on the menu button) opened the menu - but now in an adapted vertical form. See the pictures included in our last article.

Because no Javascript was used, the user had to move the mouse outside the visible button and menu areas to make the menu disappear. On a smartphone he/she would have to tap the finger to a point outside the visible menu area. Though functional (e.g. for users who deactivated JS) this kind of handling could be confusing. JS/jQuery gives us the chance to improve the situation by reacting to button clicks. We shall implement the required functionality in an object oriented way.

JS in addition gives us the opportunity to load or exchange CSS files. This may help us to react to the detection of mobile devices and e.g. adjust font-sizes by loading an adapted CSS file.

We shall discuss and apply both JS based techniques to our simple responsive test example. So, be prepared for a long code intensive article and switch the coffee machine on. Those who are impatient and rather would study code first may jump to this paragraph.

New objective for user interaction with the menu button

A more consistent handling of successive clicks on our "menu button" and of resize events after clicks would be:

  • A first click on the menu button in Range I should make the menu visible (in vertical form and above all other page elements).
  • A subsequent second click should hide the menu again.
  • A "mouseover" event should become obsolete.
  • When we resize the browser menu on a desktop by mouse dragging or on a smartphone by device rotation the menu should return to the original form and visibility defined by the CSS settings for the viewport width range reached.

In other words: The menu button in Range I should work like a toggle button for successive clicks and viewport resizing shall give the standard CSS settings priority again.

Before reading further about a series of details you may want to try our simple test example:
https://linux-blog.anracom.com/examples/fluid/fluid_standard2.html

Toolset and JS strategy

We will use jQuery. Our JS strategy will be to create a "control object" [CtrlO] based on a constructor with prototype functions ("methods") to manage the event handling. The approach of delegating event handling to object methods may appear unusual to JS beginners - but the initially required code overhead (in comparison to elementary "onClick"-handlers for the HTML elements) eventually leads in my opinion to a much better structured and manageable code for more complex pages - one CtrlO for each distinguished UI interaction area. This blows up the JS discussion a bit - but may be an interesting side aspect for some readers.

We assume that the reader is already familiar with the HTML code for the menu and the related CSS definitions presented in the last article. Before starting a in depth JS code discussion we first discuss some typical obstacles to overcome.

General challenges of a Javascript involvement for responsiveness

There are two major challenges that arise when you want to realize responsiveness mainly via Javascript and not only via CSS width conditions of the form

@media screen and (max-width : ....) { CSS statements for defined viewport width ranges }

To understand the type of problems that may occur imagine a user who continuously changes the viewport width up and down - e.g. by changing the browsers window size with the mouse on a desktop or indirectly by using the browsers scaling functionality. On a smartphone he/she could rotate the device from vertical to horizontal orientation and back again. Both actions trigger frequent or even permanent window "resize"-events to which the browser must react properly.

Problem 1: Priority of CSS property changes done by JS

One important thing is that CSS properties changed by Javascript - e.g. during the transition over viewport width threshold - automatically get a high priority:

Whatever CSS properties of HTML elements you set explicitly with JS: The change works as if a the property was changed inline for the affected DOM tree element (or as if a new line were added to the bottom of your CSS code). This in turn means: All previous settings - including the ones for the viewport width ranges - are overwritten! As a consequence your responsiveness may be hampered. E.g., if you at a viewport width threshold changed the position property of an HTML element to "absolute" via Javascript it would without any further measures stay so afterwards - even if your viewport width changes and your CSS rules for a certain viewport width range said "position:relative;".

You could avoid this by using the CSS "!important" flag for the affected CSS properties in your CSS rules for certain viewport width ranges. But this "protection" of the property setting may in realistic scenarios conflict with other temporal and reasonable changes inflicted by other user UI interaction in a certain viewport range.

Alternatively you could check all the time by JS whether some new resize events are triggered in your browser and compare the present viewport size to threshold values and reset properties by Javascript again. This leads to problem 2. Actually, for most practical cases there is a more intelligent way to deal with this problem. See below.

Problem 2: Permanent tracking of resize events and aligning of CSS property settings between JS and our basic CSS definitions

If you need to make property changes via JS in certain viewport ranges, JS must get information about the present size of the viewport and must restore desired CSS property values. Your JS could react to the "window.onResize" event - which fires permanently as long as the browser window size changes. Ok, but if you have to follow this event permanently and make all the same decisions all the time then JS will consume CPU time. And depending on the kind and depth of decisions this can have a significant effect on performance. On the other side you MUST align the decisions made on the Javascript side with your standard CSS settings for viewport width ranges defined in your CSS files, or inline CSS definitions for tags in the HTML code (i.e. in your CSS file). Together with problem 1 this may become a logical challenge.

Some rules to overcome possible obstacles of JS usage in responsive scenarios

How to circumvent the obstacles discussed above? In my opinion rule number 1 is:

You should always build your responsiveness mainly on pure CSS definitions for width ranges and involve JS only where and when absolutely necessary or helpful. The advantages in my opinion are: A CSS centered approach is more efficient, definitions for responsiveness are concentrated at one point and directly connected to other layout definitions, most of the maintenance does not require any programming knowledge and the performance of the browser gets much better.

In our specific test case: Involve JS only for the handling of the users interaction with the menu button in Range I and restrict the use of JS for this button - as it is only visible in viewport width Range I.

If you follow this main rule then the combination of two simple additional "tricks" can be helpful:

  • Make your JS functionality intelligent enough to react to resize events only when necessary and restore the old conditions as soon as a resize happens. But do it only once (!) to avoid a permanent tracking of the resize event and a permanent repetition of decisions and reactions to it.
  • Change CSS property values via loading an additional CSS class into a HTML object. Restoration of the original properties then becomes as simple as just removing the class again from the HTML object.

The first point means that we actually may sometimes track a resize event and react to it - but only under certain conditions. This is possible via dynamically switching the event handling On and Off again. More specifically: The very function that was triggered by an event handler for the resize event may turn off the same event handler!

We shall show below how to realize these rules for our test example. The basic principles can be transferred to more complex tasks.

Removing the existing CSS "hover" pseudo class definitions with jQuery

There is another small obstacle which we need to overcome in our test example. For width Range I we had defined a rollover effect via a ":hover" definition for one of the inner menu containers "div#menu_cont":

Excerpt of the HTML code for the horizontal main menu

<body onload="init_page();">
<div id="all">
	<div id="head">
		<div id="main_menu_cont">
			<div id="bg_hor_menu"></div>
			<div id="menu_cont" class="hover">
				<a id="hmen_but" title="main menu" href="#"></a>
				<div id="hmen_cont" class="hmen_cont">
					<div id="bg_ver_menu"></div>
					<ul id="menu_lst">
						<li><div class="hmen_pkt"><p><a href="#">h-menu 1</a></p></div></li>
						<li><div class="hmen_pkt"><p><a href="#">h-menu 2</a></p></div></li>
						<li><div class="hmen_pkt"><p><a href="#">h-menu 3</a></p></div></li>
						<li><div class="hmen_pkt"><p><a href="#">h-menu 4</a></p></div></li>
						<li><div class="hmen_pkt"><p><a href="#">h-menu 5</a></p></div></li>
						<li class="hm_li_right"><div class="hmen_pkt"><a id="but2" href="#"></a></div></li>
						<li class="floatstop"></li>
					</ul>
				</div>
			</div>
			<p class="floatstop"> </p>
		</div>
	</div>
....
....
</div>
....
....

 

@media screen and (max-width : 539px)  {
....	
	div#menu_cont:hover div.hmen_cont {
		visibility: visible; 
	}
....
}

 
This provided us with a working solution for browsers with deactivated JS. However, when the target browser allows for JS we do not want this CSS pseudoclass definition to be active, because the "hover" effect shall be replaced by clicks on our menu button.

Unfortunately there is no way to change pseudo class definitions directly with JS or jQuery. Therefore, we move our "hover" settings into a class "hover" which we already smuggled into the HTML code of "div#menu_cont" above.

@media screen and (max-width : 539px)  {
....	
	/*
	div#menu_cont:hover div.hmen_cont {
		visibility: visible; 
	}
	*/ 
	
	div.hover:hover div.hmen_cont {
		visibility: visible; 
	}

....
}

 
What is the advantage? With the help of JS and jQuery we can easily remove CSS classes from a tag. So, if JS is activated in the target browser one of our first actions would be to remove the class "hover" from the "div#menu_cont" element - and we would get rid of the hover effect completely. Thus, we do not need to remove our hover statement from the CSS code and remain prepared for non-JS situations.

A word about font sizes for mobiles

Although it is convenient to use a responsive design as a first step to adapt web pages to smartphones and other mobile devices there is much truth in the statement that responsiveness is not equal to a dedicated mobile support.

First the general user interaction with an interface of limited physical dimensions is different from working on a desktop. Related aspects can be taken care of in responsive HTML/CSS/JS-definitions - but it includes logically more consideration than just planning reactions to small viewport widths in terms of pixels.

Another problem is the fact that due to the physical pixel density on mobiles a responsive layout without adjusting font-sizes may not be helpful. Especially for elderly people who have difficulties with reading small letters. Even if we do not want to investigate and distinguish pixel densities of different smartphones in detail, we would in general like to use bigger font-sizes on a smartphone than on a desktop browser:

Bigger font-sizes in certain viewport width ranges?
One first approach could be to enlarge font-sizes for small viewport width ranges. The disadvantage of this approach is that it also leads to enlarged fonts in desktop browsers, too, when the user shrinks the browser's window width. But especially on a desktop we do not need to enlarge the normal font-size for narrow browser windows. There it is even counterproductive! So, if you follow a policy to raise font-size values for small viewport widths, do it moderately and without exaggeration.

Check for mobile browsers and load adapted CSS files with larger fonts!
With Javascript I personally would follow a different approach:

  • Firstly, I would use JS to check for a mobile browser and
  • secondly, I would enlarge text(!)-fonts if a mobile browser is detected - without changing dimensions of other HTML objects.

We can achieve font-size changes simply by

  • either appending an additional style sheet
  • or replacing the existing style sheet with another style sheet

that contains new font-size definitions and another adjustments for mobiles for all width-ranges. Whether you replace or append might be a question of complexity. If you intend to change important viewport width thresholds I would choose a replacement strategy. When appending additional statements it may become very difficult to see and plan what has to be changed. For our simple test case will will append an additional file. (Its easier to see what we have changed, then.)

What do we need to take care of when changing font-sizes?
Personally, I scale almost all dimensions of my HTML objects by "em" or "rem". In such a case we would NOT change the overall font-size definition in the <html>- or <body>-tag because this would rescale the whole page layout. We only change the font-settings and adjust other special size related properties for <p> and other tags in the additional CSS file! Note that changed font-sizes may in particular require an adjustment of (min-)heights, line-heights, margins and paddings, also of surrounding elements in our basic layout.

Another topic is the setting of width thresholds for menu adaptions: We saw in the last article that we set our width thresholds for changing padding/margin-values of menu elements such that we avoided wrapping into several menu lines. However, as we have explained, these threshold values depend on the font-size, too. Therefore, we need to adapt or introduce new viewport width thresholds for our menu behavior.

The modified HTML and CSS file

For reasons of completeness we list both the modified HTML and its CSS file below.

HTML file for our test case

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<meta charset="UTF-8">
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
<title>fluid standard 2</title>
<link id="myMainCSS" href="css/fluid_standard2.css" rel="stylesheet">
<!-- The following CSS sheet will be loaded by JS  -->
<!--<link href="css/fluid_standard2_mobile.css" rel="stylesheet">-->

<script type="text/javascript" src="scripts/jquery-2.1.1.min.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="scripts/detectmobilebrowser_jQuery.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="scripts/response2.js"></script>
</head>

<body onload="page_init();">
<!-- 3 spalten layout -->
<div id="all">
	<div id="head">
		<div id="main_menu_cont">
			<div id="bg_hor_menu"></div>
			<div id="menu_cont" class="hover">
				<a id="hmen_but" title="main menu" href="#"></a>
				<div id="hmen_cont" class="hmen_cont">
					<div id="bg_menu"></div>
					<ul id="menu_lst">
						<li><div class="hmen_pkt"><p><a href="#">h-menu 1</a></p></div></li>
						<li><div class="hmen_pkt"><p><a href="#">h-menu 2</a></p></div></li>
						<li><div class="hmen_pkt"><p><a href="#">h-menu 3</a></p></div></li>
						<li><div class="hmen_pkt"><p><a href="#">h-menu 4</a></p></div></li>
						<li><div class="hmen_pkt"><p><a href="#">h-menu 5</a></p></div></li>
						<li class="hm_li_right"><div class="hmen_pkt"><a id="but2" href="#"></a></div></li>
						<li class="floatstop"></li>
					</ul>
				</div>
			</div>
			<p class="floatstop"> </p>
		</div>
	</div>
	
	
	
	<div id="outer_cont">
		<div id="bg_left0"></div>
		<div id="bg_right0">
			<!-- do not remove ! -->
			<div id="bg_right_inner0"></div>
		</div>
		<div id="bg_info0"></div>
		
		<div id="float_cont">
			<div id="main_cont">
				<div id="bg_left1"></div>
				<div id="bg_info1"></div>
				
				<div id="info_cont">
					<div id="float_info">
						<div id="bg_info2"></div>
						<div id="info"> 
							<p>Lorem ipsum ... </p>
							<p> </p>
							<p>Lorem ipsum ...</p>
							<p> </p>
							<p>This is the end, my friend<br> </p>
						</div>
					</div>
					<div id="left_nav">
						<div id="bg_left2"></div>
						<div id="left_inner">
							<ul>
								<li><p><a href="#">sub menu point 1</a></p></li>
								<li><p><a href="#">sub menu point 2</a></p></li>
								<li><p><a href="#">sub menu point 3</a></p></li>
							</ul>
						</div>
					</div>
					<p class="floatstop"> </p>
				</div>
			</div>
			
			<div id="right">
				<div id="bg_right2"></div>
				<div id="right_inner">
					<p>Some stupid text - just to show something</p>telekom störung
					<p> </p>
					<p>Some stupid text - just to show something</p>
					<p>Some stupid text - just to show something</p>
				</div>
			</div> 
			
			<p class="floatstop"> </p>

		</div>
	</div>
</div>
</body>
</html>

 

You see that we now load JS files - first the jQuery file of a present version, then a file suited for jQuery which helps to detect browsers. You can download the latter open source file, which contains a long regex test on browser information, from the following web page:
http://detectmobilebrowsers.com/
The last JS file is our own Javascript code (see below).

CSS file for our test case

@CHARSET "UTF-8";

html {
	font-size:10px;
}

body {
	margin-left:0; 
	margin-right:0;
	margin-top: 0; 
	background-image: url(../image/hg_straa_mp.jpg);
	background-repeat:no-repeat; 
	background-position:top center;
	
	font-family: Arial; 
}

p { 
	font-size: 1.4rem; 
	line-height: 1.6rem;
	margin: 0;
}
	

div#all { 
	position:relative; 
	width:100%; 
	padding-bottom: 1.0rem;
	padding-top: 1.0rem;

}

/* The header region */	
/* *******************/

div#head { 
	position:relative; 
	width:100%; 
	min-height: 3.0rem;
	z-index: 6; 
}

/* The main contents container */
/* *************************** */
	
div#outer_cont { 
	position:relative; 
	width:100%; 
	min-height: 10.0rem;
	margin-top:1.0rem;
	z-index: 1; 
}
	

/* some elementary width definitions */
/* --------------------------------  */
div#left_nav, 
div#bg_left0, 
div#bg_left1  {
	width: 14rem;
}

div#left_nav {
	margin-left: 1.0rem;
	
}

div#right,
div#bg_right0 {
	width: 27%;
}


/* background elements for all columns in range I */

div#bg_left0, 
div#bg_left1,
div#bg_left2,
div#bg_right0,
div#bg_right_inner0,
div#bg_right2,
div#bg_info0,
div#bg_info1,
div#bg_info2  {
	position: absolute;
	top:0;
	bottom:0;
	border-radius: 0.8rem;
}

div#bg_left0 {
	left:1.0rem;
	background-color: #FFF;
	opacity: 0.5;
	border: 0px solid #F00;
	z-index:1;
}

div#bg_info0 {
	position: absolute;
	left:16.0rem;
	right:27%; 
	background-color: #FFF;
	opacity: 0.85;
	border: 0px solid #00F;
	z-index:1;
}

div#bg_right0 {
	right: 0;
	border: 0px solid #F00;
	z-index:1;
}

div#bg_right_inner0 {
	left: 1.0rem;
	right: 1.0rem;
	background-color: #FEEEBB;
	opacity:0.80;
}



	
/* The float container and its basic elements */	
/* ****************************************** */

div#float_cont { 
	position:relative; 
	width: 100%; 
	border: 0px solid #FF0000;
	z-index:5;
}

/* floated left main container and 
 * its background elements for range II*/

div#main_cont { 
	position: relative;
	float: left; 
	width:100%;
	min-height: 2.0rem;
	border: 0px solid #009900;
	z-index:1;
}


div#bg_left1 {
	display: none;     
	left:1.0rem;
	background-color: #FFF;
	opacity: 0.75;
	border: 0px solid #F00;
	z-index:1;
}

div#bg_info1 {
	display: none; 
	left:16.0rem;
	right:1.0rem; 
	background-color: #FFF;
	opacity: 0.9;
	border: 0px solid #00F;
	z-index:1;
}



/* The main column */
/* --------------- */


div#info_cont {
	position: relative; 
	width:100%; 
	border:0px #F00 solid;
}

div#float_info { 
	position:relative; 
	float:left;
	width: 100%; 
	/*background-color: #99e;*/ 
	border: 0px solid #FF0000;
	z-index:2;
}


div#info { 
	position: relative; 
	margin: 0 27% 0 16rem;
	width:auto;
	/*background-color: #0f0;*/ 
	padding:0.8rem;
	/*height:200px;*/
	z-index: 1;
}

div#bg_info2 {
	display: none; 
	left:1.0rem;
	right:1.0rem; 
	background-color: #FFB;
	background-color: #FFF;
	opacity: 0.95;
	border: 0px solid #00F;
	z-index:1;
}




/* left column */
/* ----------- */

div#left_nav { 
	position:relative; 
	float:left;
	border: 0px solid #009900;
	margin-left: -100%;
	padding-left: 1.0rem;
	z-index:5;
}

div#left_inner {
	position: relative; 
	width:auto;
	padding: 0.8rem;
	z-index: 2; 
}

div#bg_left2 {
	display: none;     
	left:1.0rem;
	right:1.0rem; 
	border: 0px solid #F00;
	background-color: #FFF;
	opacity: 0.9;
	z-index:1; 
}



/* right column */
/* ------------ */

div#right { 
	float:left;
	position:relative; 
	margin-left: -27%;
	min-height: 2.0rem;
	/*min-width: 15.2rem;*/ 
	/*background-color: #eee;*/ 
	border: 0px solid #009900;
	z-index:2;
}

div#right_inner {
	position:relative;
	width:auto;
	margin-left: 1.0em;
	margin-right: 1.0em;
	padding: 0.8rem;
	z-index: 2;
}

div#bg_right2 {
	display: none;     
	left:1.0rem;
	right:1.0rem; 
	border: 0px solid #F00;
	background-color: #FEEEBB;
	opacity: 0.85;
	z-index:1; 
}



/* Support elements */ 	

p.floatstop {
	clear:both;
	height:0;
	margin:0;
	line-height:0;
	padding: 0;
	font-size: 0;
}



/* contents of the upper horizontal menu */
/*-------------------------------------- */


div#main_menu_cont {
	display: block; 
	position: relative;
	width: auto;   
	margin-left: 1.0rem; 
	margin-right: 1.0rem; 
	min-height: 3.0rem;
}

div#bg_hor_menu {
	display:block; 
	position: absolute; 
	top: 0;
	bottom: 0;
	left: 0; 
	right: 0; 
	border-radius: 0.8rem;
	background-color: #FFF; 
	opacity: 0.75; 
	z-index: 1; 
}


div#menu_cont {
	display: block; 
	position: relative;
	float:right; 
	width: 100%;  
	min-height: 3.0rem;
	z-index: 2; 
	
	/* helps to center its enclosed container */
	text-align: center; 
}



a#hmen_but {
	display: none; 
	width: 4.6rem;
	height: 2.2rem;
	margin-top:0.2rem; 
	background-color: #A90000;
	border-top: 0.2rem #CCC solid; 
	border-right: 0.2rem #CCC solid; 
	border-left: 0.2rem #AAA solid; 
	border-bottom: 0.2rem #AAA solid; 
}


div.hmen_cont {
	position: relative;
	
	/* display: block; */  
	
	/* makes horizontal centering possible despite undefined width */
	display: inline-block; 
	
	min-height: 3.0rem;
	
	/* A second method of centering - optically determined by the viewport width */
	/*
	width: auto;
	margin-right:0.8em;
	margin-left:0.8em;
	*/
	
	border-radius: 1.0rem;
	
	/* centers the enclosed list ! */
	text-align: center; 
}

div#hmen_cont.vis {
	visibility:visible;  
} 



div#bg_menu {
	display:block; 
	position: absolute; 
	top: 0;
	bottom: 0;
	left: 0; 
	right: 0; 
	border-radius: 0.8rem;
	background-color: #FFF; 
	opacity: 1.0; 
	z-index: 1; 
}


div.hmen_cont ul {
	position: relative;
	
	/* makes horizontal centering possible despite undefined width */
	display: inline-block;
	list-style-type: none;
	/*width: 100%;*/
	margin: 0;
	padding: 0;
	padding-left: 0.4rem;
	padding-right: 0.4rem;
	z-index:2;
}

div.hmen_cont ul li, 
div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_left,
div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_right {
	float: left;
	padding: 0.2rem 4.0rem 0.2rem 4.0rem;
	margin:0; 
	margin-top:0.2rem;
	height: 2.2rem;
	/*border-left: #ffffff 1px solid;*/
	border-right: #a90000 0.2rem solid;
	min-height: 2.0rem;
}

div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_left {
	border-left: #a90000 0.2rem solid;
}	
div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_right {
	border-right: 0; 
}	

	
div.hmen_cont ul li.floatstop {
	float:none;
	clear:both;
	height:0; 
	min-height: 0;
	margin:0;
	line-height:0;
	padding: 0;
	font-size: 0;
	border:0;
}

div.hmen_cont ul li a, 
div.hmen_cont ul li a:visited  {
	text-decoration: none; 
	color: #000; 
}

div.hmen_cont ul li a:hover {
	color: #A90000; 
	background-color: #FFFFBB; 
}



a#but2 {
	display: block;
	width: 1.6rem;
	height: 1.6rem;
	background-color: #A90000;
	border-top: 0.2em #CCC solid; 
	border-right: 0.2rem #CCC solid; 
	border-left: 0.2rem #AAA solid; 
	border-bottom: 0.2em #AAA solid; 
}



/* contents of the left vertical menu */

#left_inner ul {
	width:100%;
	min-height: 2.2rem;
	list-style-type: none;
	padding: 0;
	margin: 0;
}

#left_inner ul li {
	width:100%; 
	min-height: 2.2rem;
}


#left_inner ul li a, 
#left_inner ul li a:visited {
	color: #990000;
	
}
#left_inner ul li a:hover {
	color: #000;     
	background-color: #FFFFBB; 
}
  
    

/* ---------------------------------------------- */    
	
/* @media screen decision and settings for the horizontal menu */
	
@media screen and (max-width : 860px) {
	
	div.hmen_cont ul li, 
	div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_left,
	div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_right
	 {
		padding: 0.2rem 1.2rem 0.2rem 1.2rem;
	}
} 


/* @media screen decision and settings for range II */

@media screen and (min-width : 540px) and (max-width :828px) {
    
	div#info { 
		margin: 0 2.0rem 0 16rem;
		background-color:transparent;
	}
   
	div#right { 
		float:left;
		margin-top:1.0rem;
		margin-left: 0;
		margin-right: 0; 
		width:100%;
	 }
    
	div#right_inner {
		margin-left: 1.0rem; 
		margin-right: 1.0rem;
		width: auto; 
		/* background-color: #FEEEBB; */
		border-radius: 0.8rem;
	}
    
	/*
	 * Switch OFF backgrounds after 1st viewport width transition 
	 */
	div#bg_left0 {
		display: none;  
	}
	div#bg_info0 {
		display:none;  
	}
	div#bg_right0 {
		display: none; 
	}
    
    
	 /*
	  * Switch ON backgrounds after first viewport width transition 
	 */
	 
	 div#bg_left1 { 
		display: block; 
	 } 
	   
	 div#bg_info1 { 
		display: block; 
	 }
	 div#bg_right2 { 
		display: block; 
		opacity: 0.9;
	 }

}

    
/* ---------------------------------------------- */    
  

/* @media screen decision and settings for range I */


@media screen and (max-width : 539px)  {
    
	
	div#info { 
		margin: 0 1.0rem 0 1.0rem;
		/* background-color: #FFB; */
		border-radius: 0.8rem;
	}
	
	
	div#left_nav { 
		margin-top:1.0rem;
		margin-left: 0;
		width:100%;
		padding:0;
	}
	  
	div#left_inner {
		width:auto;
		padding: 0.8rem;
		margin: 0 1.0rem 0 1.0rem;
		/*  background-color: #DDDDDD; */
		border-radius: 0.8rem;
		z-index: 2; 
	}
	
	div#right { 
		float:left;
		margin-top:1.0rem;
		margin-left: 0;
		margin-right: 0; 
		width:100%;
	 }
	
	div#right_inner {
		margin-left: 1.0rem; 
		margin-right: 1.0rem;
		width: auto; 
		/* background-color: #FEEEBB;*/
		border-radius: 0.8rem;
	}
   
	/*
	 * Switch OFF backgrounds after 2nd viewport width transition 
	 */
	
	div#bg_info0 { 
		display: none; 
	 }
	div#bg_info1 { 
		display: none; 
	 }
	 
	div#bg_right0 {
		display: none;  
	}
	 
	div#bg_left0 {
		display: none; 
	}
	div#bg_left1 { 
		display: none; 
	}   
	
	/*
	 * Switch ON backgrounds after 2nd viewport width transition 
	*/
	div#bg_info2 { 
		display: block; 
		opacity: 0.95; 
	}
	div#bg_left2 { 
		display: block; 
		opacity: 0.95; 
	}   
	div#bg_right2 { 
		display: block; 
		opacity:0.9; 
	}


	/*
	* Treatment of the horizontal menu 
	*/
	
	div#bg_hor_menu {
		opacity: 1.0;
	}
	

	div#menu_cont {
		margin-right: 4.0rem; 
		width: 5.0rem;  /* button size ! */
		height: 3.0rem;
	}
	
	a#hmen_but {
		display: block; 
	}


	/*
	div#menu_cont:hover div.hmen_cont {
		visibility: visible; 
	}
	*/ 
	
	div.hover:hover div.hmen_cont {
		visibility: visible; 
	}

	
	div.hmen_cont {
		position: absolute;
		visibility:hidden; 
		top:3.0rem;
		right:0; 
		min-height: 3.0rem;
		
		width: auto;
		min-width: 18.4rem;
		max-width: 25.0rem;
		
		margin-right:0rem;
		margin-left:auto;
		
		padding: 0.8rem; 
		
		background-color: #DDD;
		border-radius: 1.0em;
		
		text-align: left; 
	}
	
	div#bg_menu {
		background-color: #DDD;
		opacity: 1.0;   
	}
	
	
	div.hmen_cont ul {
		position: relative;
		list-style-type: none;
		width: auto;
		margin: 0;
		padding: 0;
	}
	
	div.hmen_cont ul li, 
	div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_left,
	div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_right {
		float: none;
		padding: 0.2rem 0.4rem 0.2rem 0.8rem;
		width:auto;
		/*border-left: #ffffff 1px solid;*/
		border-right: #a90000 0.0rem solid;
		min-height: 2.0rem;
	}
		
	div.hmen_cont ul li.floatstop {
		float:none;
	}

	div.hmen_cont ul li p {
		margin-top:0; 
		line-height: 1.6rem; 
	
	}

}    

/* extreme case - reached e.g. by Ctrl + */
/* -------------------------------------- */
@media screen and (max-width : 260px)  {
	div#menu_cont {
		margin-right: 4.0rem; 
	}
	
	div.hmen_cont {Additional CSS file to be loaded dynamically for mobiles
		right: -4.0rem;
		width: auto; 
		min-width: 0; 
	}
	
	div#bg_menu {
		background-color: #DDD;  
	}
	
}	

 
More or less the same as presented in our last article. Note that we have introduced class ".vis" :

div#hmen_cont.vis {
    visibility:visible;
}

We shall use use this class in our Javascript code.

Additional CSS file to be loaded dynamically for mobiles

@CHARSET "UTF-8";
p { 
	font-size: 1.6rem; 
	line-height: 2.0rem;
	margin: 0;
}

	
/* contents of the upper horizontal menu */
/*-------------------------------------- */

div.hmen_cont ul li, 
div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_left,
div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_right {
	padding: 0.2rem 3.4rem 0.2rem 3.4rem;
	height: 2.4rem;
	min-height: 2.2rem;
	line-height: 2.0rem;
}

/*-------------------------------------- */
	
/* @media screen decision and settings for the horizontal menu */
	
@media screen and (max-width : 860px) {
	
	div.hmen_cont ul li, 
	div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_left,
	div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_right {
		padding: 0.2rem 1.0rem 0.2rem 1.0rem;
	}
} 
    
/* ---------------------------------------------- */    

/* @media screen decision and settings for range I */

@media screen and (max-width : 539px)  {
    
	div.hmen_cont ul li, 
	div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_left,
	div.hmen_cont ul li.hm_li_right {
		padding: 0.2rem 0.4rem 0.2rem 0.8rem;
	}

	div.hmen_cont ul li p {
		margin-top:0; 
		line-height: 2.0rem; 
	}
}    

 
You see that we raised the <p>-font-size from 1.4rem to 1.6rem and adjusted other properties. This change is moderate - the reason being that I was too lazy to adapt the columns of the whole web structure. For larger font-sizes you had e.g. to enlarge the right menu block. But the font-size effect will be visible - and this is enough for demonstration purposes.

The JS code

The JS code is propbably a bit more complicated than the reader expects - but we shall address interesting points in a minute. Still the code at some points is kept relatively simple and can/must of course be improved for real world cases.

JS code to load an additional style sheet for mobiles and to control the menu button actions at small viewport widths in our test example

* JS example to control the menu in a responsive layout
 */


// --------------------------------------------------------
// Constructor declarations
// --------------------------------------------------------

/**
 * Constructor of a global object controller object 
 * - to prevent clattering of the global space
 * - to build all CtrlOs (each CtrlO is a singleton) 
 */
function Anracon_GlobalObjectController(globalContext) {
	
	this.global = globalContext;

	// Prefixes for CtrlOs and their constructors
		this.ctrloPrefix  = "CtrlO_"; 
		this.constrPrefix = "Ctrl_";  

	// CtrlO names - here we have only one CtrlO, 
	// more CtrlOs would be handled on more complex pages
		this.ay_objNames 	 = new Array('Hmenu');   
		this.len_ay_objNames = this.ay_objNames.length; 


	// address of aditional mobile ccs file 
		this.cssMobileFileUrl = "css/fluid_standard2_mobile.css"; 
	
		
    // Initial action to check for Mobile browser and to load additional CSS sheet 
	// or to replace aaditional CSS sheet 	
	// check for mobile browser and react  
	// --------------------------------	
		
		// Shall the CSS file be replaced ? 
		this.replaceCss = false; // false: CSS file will be appended, true: ex. css file will be replaced
		
		// Tag of CSS file to be replaced 
		this.cssLinkId = "#myMainCSS"; 
		
		this.mobile = false; 
		if ($.browser != undefined ) {
			if ( $.browser.mobile != undefined ) {
				this.mobile = $.browser.mobile; 
			}	
		}
		
		// Load additional style sheet or replace existing style sheet to enlarge fonts  
		// done already here to avoid unnecessary flickering 
		this.mobile = true; 
		if ( this.mobile ) {
			this.loadCssFile( this.cssMobileFileUrl, this.replaceCss, this.cssLinkId ); 
		}
}


/**
 * GOC method to create all CtrlOs after (!) web page creation 
 * HTML object must exist before instanciating the CtrlOs 
 */
Anracon_GlobalObjectController.prototype.populate = function() {
	
	var ctrloName; 
	var constrName; 
	
	// Loop over all defined CtrlO names
	// ----------------------------------
	for (i=0; i < this.len_ay_objNames; i++) {
		ctrloName  = this.ctrloPrefix  + this.ay_objNames[i];
		constrName = this.constrPrefix + this.ay_objNames[i];
		console.log("constructor_name = " + constrName); 
		
		// Creation of all required CtrlOs 
		// -------------------------------
		// via indirect addressing and indirect call of constructors 
		this[ctrloName] = new this.global[constrName](ctrloName);  
	}
	
	this.pushObjectReferences(); 
};


/**
 * GOC method to dispatch references to every CtrlO across all CtrlOs 
 * each CtrlO should be able to address other CtrlOs 
 *  
 */
Anracon_GlobalObjectController.prototype.pushObjectReferences = function() {
	
	var i=0, j=0; 
	var presentCtrloName = '';
	var globalCtrloName = '';
	var localCtrloName  = ''; 
	
	var localCtrloPrefix = this.ctrloPrefix;  // We use the same name as CtrlOs are singletons
	
	// Loop over all CtrlOs
	// --------------------
	for (i=0; i < this.len_ay_objNames; i++) {
		
		// "Present" CtrlO to which references of OTHER CtrlOs are dispatched  
		presentCtrlOName = this.ctrloPrefix + this.ay_objNames[i];
		console.log("GOC push references into the following CtrlO :: i = " + i + " global CtrlO name = " + presentCtrlOName); 
		
		// Dispatch all other CtrlO references to the present CtrlO 
		// --------------------------------------------------------
		for (j=0; j < this.len_ay_objNames; j++) {
			if (j != i) {
				localCtrloName	= localCtrloPrefix + this.ay_objNames[j];
				globalCtrloName	= this.ctrloPrefix + this.ay_objNames[j];
				
				if ( this[presentCtrlOName][localCtrloName] == null || this[presentCtrlOName][localCtrloName] == 'undefined' ) {
					
					// assign the reference of the other CtrlO to a variable in the present CtrlO
					this[presentCtrlOName][localCtrloName] = this[globalCtrloName]; 
				}
				
				console.log(" reference to " + globalCtrloName + " assigned"); 
			}
		}
	}
}; 


/**
 * GOC method to load additional CSS sheets
 * 
 * @param url  - address of CSS sheet relative ot the HTML file 
 */
Anracon_GlobalObjectController.prototype.loadCssFile = function(url, replaceCss, cssLinkId) {
	
	var linkIdentifier = "<link rel=\"stylesheet\" type=\"text/css\" href=\"" + url + "\">"; 
	var cssLinkToFile = $(linkIdentifier);  // if already there it will not be cloned (see jQuery .append docu) 
	
	var styleSheetSelector = ''; 
	
	if ( replaceCss == undefined ) {
		replaceCss = false; 
	}
	
	if( cssLinkId != undefined ) {
		styleSheetSelector = cssLinkId + "[rel=stylesheet]"; 
	}

	// Non consistent parameters 	
	if ( replaceCss && styleSheetSelector == '') {
		// Include some error handling here .....
		// we just do nothing and thus fall back to the old CSS file 
		return; 
	}
	
	if ( replaceCss == true ) {
		$(styleSheetSelector).attr('href', url);
	}
	
	if ( !replaceCss ) {
		$("head").append(cssLinkToFile);
	}
}; 


/**
 * Constructor for the CtrlO which controls 
 * the user interaction with the horizontal menu
 * 
 *  @param obj_name  my own object name in the GOC
 */
function Ctrl_Hmenu(objName) {
	
	// Reference to our GOC
	// ----------------------
		this.GOC = Anracon_GOC;
		this.myName = this.GOC.ctrloPrefix + objName; 
		// other CtrlOs references are received through a dispatching process  	
	
	// HTML IDs = identifiers for jQuery 
	// -----------------------------------	
		this.id_menuCont  = "#" + "menu_cont";
		this.id_hmenuBut  = "#" + "hmen_but";
		this.id_hmenuCont = "#" + "hmen_cont";
		
		this.id_rightInner = "#" + "right_inner"; 
		
	// variables 
	// ----------	
		// button clicked ?   
		this.butMenuClicked = 0;
		// mobile browser ? 
		this.mobile = false; 
		
		
	// Some initial action 
	/// ******************	
		
	// switch off event handler for rollover set by CSS for non JS situations  
	// ------------------------------------
		$(this.id_menuCont).removeClass("hover"); 
			
	// check for mobile browser and react  
	// --------------------------------	
		if ($.browser != undefined ) {
			if ( $.browser.mobile != undefined ) {
				this.mobile = $.browser.mobile; 
			}
		}
		// Add message to the right column for test scenario
		this.rightTxt  = $(this.id_rightInner).html(); 
		this.mobileStr = ''; 
		if ( this.mobile ) {
			this.mobileStr = "<p style=\"color:red; font-weight:bold; margin-top:1.0rem;\">JS: Mobile browser detected!<br>Using bigger font-sizes!</p>" 
		}
		else {
			this.mobileStr = "<p style=\"color:red; font-weight:bold; margin-top:1.0rem;\">JS: No mobile browser detected!</p>" 
		}
		
		// Message 
		this.rightTxt += this.mobileStr; 
		$(this.id_rightInner).html(this.rightTxt); 
		
		// Load additional CSS-sheet
		// --- Not done here, but initially - see GOC ----
		
		
	// register functionality for controlled HTML elements
	// -------------------------
		this.register_events();
		
	console.log("Constructor of Ctrl-Object " + this.myName); 	

}


/**
 * CtrlO method to register events for the active elements of the menu container 
 */
Ctrl_Hmenu.prototype.register_events = function() {

	$(this.id_hmenuBut).click(
		$.proxy(this, 'displayHmenu')
	); 
    
	console.log("From CtrlO Hmenu: Callback for click on menu button registered " );                
};


/**
 * Ctrlo method to display the menu after a click on the menu button 
 */
Ctrl_Hmenu.prototype.displayHmenu = function(e) {
	
	var method = 0;	// 0: load and unload additiinal css class 
					// 1: directly change CSS property visibility
	
	e.preventDefault();
    
	if ( method == 0 ) {
		if ( this.butMenuClicked == 0 ) {
			$(this.id_hmenuCont).addClass("vis"); 
   	   	   	
			// activate handler for window.resize event 
			$(window).on("resize", $.proxy(this, 'removeClassVis') );
   	   	   	
			this.butMenuClicked = 1; 
			console.log("menu button clicked - menu activated" );                
		}
		else {
			// $(this.id_hmenu_cont).css('display', 'none'); 
			$(this.id_hmenuCont).removeClass("vis"); 
			this.butMenuClicked = 0; 
			console.log("menu button clicked - menu deactivated" );                
		}
	}
	else {
		if ( this.butMenuClicked == 0 ) {
			$(this.id_hmenuCont).css('visibility', 'visible'); 
			this.butMenuClicked = 1; 
			console.log("menu button clicked - menu activated" );                
		}
		else {
			$(this.id_hmenuCont).css('visibility', 'hidden'); 
			this.butMenuClicked = 0; 
			console.log("menu button clicked - menu deactivated" );                
		}
	}
};


/**
 * Ctrlo method to remove the visibility class from the menu button 
 *  - Note: this helps to avoid trouble with resizing 
 */
Ctrl_Hmenu.prototype.removeClassVis = function(e) {
	console.log("resize event");
	$(this.id_hmenuCont).removeClass("vis");
	this.butMenuClicked = 0; 
   	
	// remove handler for window.resize event to avoid permanent event handling 
	$(window).off("resize");
	
	console.log("class vis removed");

};


// --------------------------------------------------------------
// function declarations 
// --------------------------------------------------------------

/**
 * Function to create all CtrlOs in the GOC
 * more is not required - the rest is done by methods of CtrlOs 
 */
function page_init() {
	
	var GOC_name = "Anracon_GOC";  
	// CtrlO creation 
	this[GOC_name].populate(); 
}


//----------------------------------------------------------------------------
// Executable statements - after all declarations are known to the interpreter 
// ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

// We now create our own container for all CtrlOs 
// required to control the user interaction with elements of our web page  
this.Anracon_GOC = new Anracon_GlobalObjectController(this);

 

A Global Object Controller [GOC] object

The first thing we do is to create a global object "Anracon_GOC" - a Global Object Controller [GOC] - which shall control a variety of so called "Control Objects" (CtrlOs) for defined regions, i.e. containers, of a web page. A CtrlO contains all required functionality for all interactive GUI elements of the controlled container. Thus, we avoid clattering the global context with functions and variables.

Actually in our case we only need one CtrlO object for our menu container "div#main_menu_cont". But I have left some parts of method code relevant for the treatment of multiple CtrlOs of more complex pages. The names of all CtrlOs which shall be created should be listed in the array "ay_objNames" of the constructor function "Anracon_GlobalObjectController()" for the GOC-object. Constructor functions of the form "Ctrl_NameoftheCtrlO" must be defined for all CtrlOs, which we want to handle. The name NameoftheCtrlO is the related name saved in the array "ay_objNames". Prefixes are defined for both the constructor functions and the CtrlO objects.

The prototype "method" defined as "Anracon_GlobalObjectController.prototype.populate" creates all CtrlO objects defined. Do not get confused by the indirect addressing in the statement for object creation - this was done for convenience, i.e. for an automatic assignment of the right object names and the choice of the right constructors based on defined prefixes and the contents of our object name array. You may be astonished that the "new" operator is not followed by a literal. Actually the "new" operator in JS requires the address of a constructor function object - this is in our case provided as the relevant function reference in the global context (remember: a function in JS is itself an object!).

As the CtrlOs must in complex web pages be able to interact with each other, a further "method" defined in Anracon_GlobalObjectController.prototype.pushObjectReferences of the GOC dispatches references of all created CtrlOs to each of the CtrlOs. It is not necessary to discuss details here as we only have one CtrlO to care for.

The method defined as Anracon_GlobalObjectController.prototype.loadCssFile loads the mentioned additional CSS file for mobiles. This method is called in the GOCs constructor in case that the function defined in the file "detectmobilebrowser_jQuery.js" had set a variable of the jQuery object - namely jQuery.browser.mobile - to true. The url is the path or address of the CSS file to load. The early loading of the additional CSS file helps to prevent page flickering flickering.

Addendum 09.09.2015: We have added some parameters and code to loadCssFile() to show what would have to be done, if we wanted to replace teh original CSS file instead of appending an additional one.

The CtrlO "Anracon_GOC.CtrlO_Hmenu"

The object "CtrlO_Hmenu" is based on the constructor function "Ctrl_Hmenu(objName)". It provides the desired functionality for our main menu container. In our test case the only interactive element is our menu button. The constructor first defines selectors for certain elements of the menu and also the text container in the right column of our layout (see the previous articles).

The first relevant action is to remove the "hover"-effect of our old JS-free solution by removing the defined CSS class "hover", which we defined from the container "div#menu_cont". This class triggered the "mouseOver" based remote rollover effect discussed in our last article. No such class - no "hover" and no possible negative impact on our aspired "click"-based control for the menu.

In the next step we display a message in case that we detected a mobile browser. We do this in the right column of our layout. The last step consist of a delegation of the functionality for handling a "click" on the menu-button to a method displayHmenu of the object CtrlO_Hmenu.

This is done by registering the method as a callback with the $.proxy() function of the jQuery object ($). This way we guarantee that the context of the this operator in the callback called during the click event is automatically switched from the event's HTML object (our menu button "a#hmen_but") to our pure JS object CtrlO_Hmenu.

If we had not used $.proxy() the context of "this" in displayHmenu() would have been the menu button. (A typical error ....) Read about the right context assignment in the documentation of $.proxy() and other articles on the Internet if you are in doubt.

The method "displayHmenu()" of the CtrlO "CtrlO_Hmenu"

The method displayHmenu() does some tricky things during the click event of "div#hmen_but". This has to do with the priority of CSS properties set by JS. See the discussion above. The correct behavior is only achieved for "var method=0" - the alternative code is only for purposes of testing of a wrong solution.

To understand the problem of CSS priority let us do a thought experiment and assume that we directly changed the visibility property of "div#hmen_cont" by JS in course of a mouse click event:

First imagine that in the width Range I we just switched the visibility property of our menu after a click on the button to "visible". No problem: The menu would appear as a vertical block - just as expected and due to our CSS rules for Range I. If we then resized the browser window again to bigger widths (viewport width Range II) the menu would stay visible a while as a vertical block - but at the threshold to Range II it would change its appearance from vertical appearance back to the regular a horizontal menu line. So far so good.

However, what happened if we in Range I clicked a second time on the button and this time used Javascript to change the visibility of the menu to "visibility:hidden"? This is exactly what a user expects as a standard interaction with a toggle button. Then during resizing of the browser window to a bigger width (on a desktop by dragging the window edge with the mouse or in a smartphone by rotating the device to a horizontal orientation) the menu would stay invisible forever and quite independent of the final viewport width range. This is due to the priority of the CSS property change performed by JS! The same would by the way be true for other property changes directly set by JS. Such a behavior is, of course, not what we want!

We circumvent this problem by not setting properties directly but by loading and unloading an extra class ".vis"

div#hmenu_class.vis { visibility:visible;}

for "div#hmenu_cont" at the click-event of"div#hmen_but. See the code.

Now we stumble into the next problem: The unloading should also occur for a resize event of the window - even if we did not click a second time on the button. Otherwise the menu would remain visible to a transition to Range II and a successive transition back to Range I. No harm done - but it does not feel right: when we go to Range I the menu should always disappear and only be shown after a button click.

So, we have to react to the "window.resize" event and unload the class "vis" as soon as this event occurs. But for saving CPU power we want to unload only once and NOT to react all the time to the resize events which fire permanently during window size changes. To achieve this we use the following trick:

When clicking the first time on the menu button we load the class "vis" - and at the same time activate an event handler for the resize event by using jQuery's $(window).on() function. At a subsequent click we unload the class "vis" and at the same time switch off the event handler by jQuery's .off() function. We encapsulate the latter 2 steps in a method Ctrl_Hmenu.prototype.removeClassVis of our CtrlO.

Conclusion

This was really a long tour. But, actually, we have realized all our objectives. We have in addition seen that the efforts in our previous articles were not at all in vain. We integrated JS smoothly with the ability to automatically eliminate the few, possibly interfering CSS definitions for the Non-JS solution. Thanks to this approach, we now have a solution for browsers with and without activated Javascript. At least in principle we have also shown how we could react to mobile devices in a more specific way by loading appropriate CSS sheets to adjust font-sizes and other CSS properties.

As we did all JS in an object oriented way our JS code is now prepared to include further methods to control the user interaction in a structured form. We shall make use of this already in the next article. In the meantime you may want to play around with our present example with desktop and mobile browsers:

Address for our test example with Javascript:
https://linux-blog.anracom.com/examples/fluid/fluid_standard2.html
Address for the same example without JS:
https://linux-blog.anracom.com/examples/fluid/fluid_standardx.html

In the next forthcoming article of this series

Responsive fluid multi-column layouts - sub menu adaption with JS/jQuery - VI

we shall deal with the left sided sub menu in a more flexible and user friendly way.

CSV file upload with ZIP containers, jQuery, Ajax and PHP 5.4 progress tracking – VI

In the previous articles of this series about an Ajax controlled file upload with PHP progress tracking

CSV file upload with ZIP containers, jQuery, Ajax and PHP 5.4 progress tracking – V
CSV file upload with ZIP containers, jQuery, Ajax and PHP 5.4 progress tracking – IV
CSV file upload with ZIP containers, jQuery, Ajax and PHP 5.4 progress tracking – III
CSV file upload with ZIP containers, jQuery, Ajax and PHP 5.4 progress tracking – II
CSV file upload with ZIP containers, jQuery, Ajax and PHP 5.4 progress tracking – I

we have shown how we can measure and display the progress of a file upload process with a series of Ajax controlled polling jobs and the progress tracking features of PHP > 5.4. At least in our test example this worked perfectly.

However, for practical purposes and especially when our server users deal with large files we must in addition take better care of some limiting PHP parameters on the server. Both a good server admin and a program developer would, of course, try to find out what file sizes are to be expected on a regular basis and adjust the server parameters accordingly. However, you never know what our beloved users may do. What happens if we talked about file sizes of less than 100MB and suddenly a file with 200MB is transferred to the server?

For which limiting PHP parameters on the server may we run into serious trouble?

Due to security considerations the PHP module interaction with incoming data streams is limited by parameters set for the Apache server. The relevant configuration file is e.g. on Opensuse located at

/etc/php5/apache2/php.ini

The most important limits (set in different sections of the file) are:

; Maximum amount of time each script may spend parsing request data. It's a good
; idea to limit this time on productions servers in order to eliminate unexpectedly
; long running scripts.
; Default Value: -1 (Unlimited)
; Production Value: 60 (60 seconds)
; http://php.net/max-input-time
max_input_time = 200
 
; Maximum size of POST data that PHP will accept.
; Its value may be 0 to disable the limit. It is ignored if POST data reading
; is disabled through enable_post_data_reading.
; http://php.net/post-max-size
post_max_size = 200M
 
; Maximum allowed size for uploaded files.
; http://php.net/upload-max-filesize
upload_max_filesize =150M
 
; Maximum amount of memory a script may consume (128MB)
; http://php.net/memory-limit
memory_limit = 500M

The description of the first parameter above is somewhat unclear. What is meant by the "time spent on parsing request data"? Is this a part of the (also limited) execution time of the PHP target program of our Ajax transaction? Or is this limit imposed on the time required to read incoming POST data and to fill the $_POST array? If the latter were true a small bandwidth could lead to a violation of the "max_input_time" limit ...

Regarding the second parameter the question turns up, whether this limit is imposed on all transferred POST data including the file data?

The third parameter seems to speak for itself. There is a limit for the size of a file that can be transmitted to the server. However, it is not clear how this parameter affects real world scenarios. Does it stop a transfer already before it starts or only when the limit is reached during the transfer?

Regarding the 4th parameter we may suspect that it becomes important already during the handling (reading, parsing) of the incoming POST data. So, how much of memory (RAM) do we need at the server to handle large files during an upload process?

Warning regarding PHP parameter changes for multi-user situation on real world servers

We were and are discussing a privileged situation in this article series: Only one user uploads exactly one big Zip-container file to a server.

In such a situation it is relatively safe to fiddle around with PHP parameters of the central "php.ini" file (or PHP parameter settings in directory specific files; see the last section of this article). However, as an administrator of a server you should always be aware of the consequences of PHP parameter changes, e.g for memory limits, in a multi-user environment.

In addition you must also take into account that our code examples may be extended towards the case that one user may upload multiple files in parallel in one Ajax transaction.

Remarks on "max_input_time" - you can probably ignore it!

If you look up information about "max_input_time" available on the Internet you may experience that some confusion over the implications of this parameter remains. Especially as PHP's own documentation is a bit contradictory - just compare what is said in the following manual pages:

 
Therefore, I tested a bit with files up to 1 GByte over slow and fast connections to PHP servers on the Internet. I came to the conclusion that the answer in the following "stackoverflow" discussion
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/11387113/php-file-upload-affected-or-not-by-max-input-time
describes the server behavior correctly. This means:

This parameter has no consequences with respect to connection bandwidth and the resulting upload time required for file data: It does not limit the required upload time. Neither does it reduce the amount of allowed maximum execution time of the PHP program triggered at the end of the file transfer process to the server.

"max_input_time" imposes a limit on the time to read/parse the data

  • after they have completely arrived at the server
  • and before the PHP program, which shall work with the data, is started.

This "parsing" time normally is very small and the standard value of 60 secs should be enough under most circumstances. If these findings are true we do not need to care much about this parameter during our file transfer process to the server. A value of 60 secs should work even for large files of 1 GB ore more on modern servers. At least for a server with sufficient resources under average load.

See also:

 
However, I can imagine circumstances on a server with many users under heavy load, for which this parameter nevertheless needs to be adjusted.

What does the PHP documentation say about the parameters "post_max_size", "upload_max_filesize" and "memory_limit"?

Regarding these parameters we get at least some clear - though disputable - recommendation from the PHP documentation. At

 
we find the following explanation for "post_max_size":

Sets max size of post data allowed. This setting also affects file upload. To upload large files, this value must be larger than upload_max_filesize. If memory limit is enabled by your configure script, memory_limit also affects file uploading. Generally speaking, memory_limit should be larger than post_max_size. When an integer is used, the value is measured in bytes. Shorthand notation, as described in this FAQ, may also be used. If the size of post data is greater than post_max_size, the $_POST and $_FILES superglobals are empty. This can be tracked in various ways, e.g. by passing the $_GET variable to the script processing the data, i.e. <form action="edit.php?processed=1">, and then checking if $_GET['processed'] is set.

Off topic: For those who find the track-recommendation in the last sentence confusing as it refers to $_GET, see e.g.

 
You can add parameters to your URL and these parameters will appear in $_GET, but if you decided to use the POST mechanism for data transfer these URL-parameters are included in the POST data mechanism of HTTP.

The recommendation for memory sizing is misleading in case of file uploads!

Following the recommendation quoted above would lead to the following relation for the PHP setup:

memory_limit > post_max_size > ( upload_max_file_size * number of files uploaded in parallel ).

Regarding the right side: My understanding is that "upload_max_file_size" sets a limit for each individual file during an upload process. See

 
Actually, I find the recommendation for the parameter "memory_limit" very strange. This would mean that somebody who has to deal with an upload file with a size of 2 GByte would have to allow for memory allocation for a single PHP process in the RAM > 2 GByte. Shall we take such a requirement seriously?

My answer is NO ! But, of course, you should always test yourself ....

To me only the last relation on the right side of the relation chain makes sense during an upload process. Of course PHP needs some RAM and during file uploads also buffering requires sufficient server RAM. But several GByte to control a continuous incoming stream of data which shall be saved as a file into a directory (for temporary files) on the server? No way! I did some tests - e.g. limit the memory to 32 MB and successfully upload a 1 GB file. Therefore, I agree completely with the findings in the following article:

 
See also:

 
So:

Despite you need RAM for buffering during file uploads it is NOT required to use as much physical RAM as the size of the file you want to upload.

However, it may be wise to have as much RAM as possible if you intend to operate on the file as a whole. This may e.g. become important during phases when a PHP program wants to rewrite file data or read them as fast as possible for whatever purpose. A typical example where you may need sufficient memory is image manipulation.

Nevertheless: Regarding the file transfer process to the server itself the quoted recommendation is in my opinion really misleading. And: Do not forget that a high value for "memory_limit" may lead to server problems in a multi-user situation.

"post_max_size" and "upload_max_filesize" as the main limiting PHP parameters for file uploads

So, only the following condition remains:

post_max_size > upload_max_file_size * number of files uploaded in parallel

But this condition should be taken seriously! There are several things that need to be said about these parameters.

  1. A quick test shows: "post_max_size" imposes a limit on all POST data transferred from client - including file data.
  2. Even for situations in which only one file is uploaded I personally would choose "post_max_size" to be several MBs bigger than "upload_max_filesize". Just to account for overhead.
  3. In case of an upload of multiple files in parallel (i.e. a situation, which we have not studied in this article series) you have to get an idea about the typical size and number of files to be uploaded in parallel. In such a situation you may also want to adjust the parameter

    ; Maximum number of files that can be uploaded via a single request
    max_file_uploads = 20

  4. There may be differences depending on the PHP version of how and when the server reacts to a violation of either of both parameters. For PHP 5.4 it seems that the server does not allow for an upload if either of the parameters is violated by the size of the transferred file(s) - meaning: the upload does not even start. This in turn may lead to different error situations on the server and messages issued by the server - depending on which parameter was violated.
  5. From a developer's perspective it is a bit annoying that the PHP servers reaction to a violation of "upload_max_filesize" is indeed very different from its reaction a violation of "post_max_size". See below.

Server reactions to violations of "post_max_size" and "upload_max_filesize"

We need to discuss a bit the reactions of a PHP server towards a violation of the named parameters before we can decide how to react within our PHP or Javascript programs in the course of an Ajax transaction.

Server reaction to a violation of "upload_max_filesize"
The Apache/PHP server reacts to a violation of "upload_max_filesize" by a clear message in

$_FILES['userfile']["error"]

where 'userfile' corresponds to the "name" attribute of the HTML file input element. A reasonable way how to react to PHP error messages in $_FILES by PHP applications is described in the highest ranked comment of
http://php.net/manual/en/features.file-upload.errors.php
and also here
https://blog.hqcodeshop.fi/archives/185-PHP-large-file-uploads.html

Server reaction to a violation of "post_max_size"
What about a violation of "post_max_size"? We can only react reliably to an error via our PHP target programs if an error number or a clear, structured message is provided. Unfortunately, this is not the case when the sum of uploaded data via POST becomes bigger than "post_max_size". When the server detects the violation no content at all is made available in $_POST or $_FILES. So, we have no error-message there a PHP program could react to.

However, we can combine

  • a test for emptiness of the superglobals $POST and $_FILES
  • with some HTTP information from the client, which is saved in $_SERVER,

to react properly in our PHP programs. Such a reaction within our Ajax transactions would naturally include

  • the creation of an error code and an error-message
  • and sending both back within the JSON response to the Javascript client for error control.

When we make a POST request to the server a value of the POST content size is provided by the client and available via the variable

$_SERVER['CONTENT_LENGTH'].

See:

 
So, for the purpose of error control we will need to add some test code to the "initial" PHP target program "handle_uploaded_init_files.php5" of our Ajax transaction which started the file upload.

Reasonable reactions of our PHP upload and polling programs to a violation of "post_max_size"

Remember that our initial Ajax transaction for upload triggered the server file "handle_uploaded_init_files.php5". Therefore, we should some additional code that investigates the violation of post_max_size" there. This would probably look similar to:

if (
	isset( $_SERVER['REQUEST_METHOD'] )      &&
        ($_SERVER['REQUEST_METHOD'] === 'POST' ) &&
        isset( $_SERVER['CONTENT_LENGTH'] )      &&
        ( empty( $_POST ) )
 ) {
	$max_post_size = ini_get('post_max_size');
	$content_length = $_SERVER['CONTENT_LENGTH'] / 1024 / 1024;
	if ($content_length > $max_post_size ) {
		....
		// Our error treatment ....
		$err_code = ....;
		// create an error message and send it to the Ajax client 
		$err_post_size_msg = ".....";
		....
	}

	....
	....
	// transfer the error code and error message to some named element of the JSON object 
	....
	$ajax_response['err_code'] = $err_code;
	$ajax_response['err_msg'] = $err_post_size_msg;
	.....
	$response = json_encode($ajax_response);
	echo $response;
	exit;
}

 
See also:

&nbsP;
Note that we cannot assume a certain timing of the reaction of the main program in comparison to our polling jobs. It may happen that we have already started the polling sequence before the error messages from our first Ajax transaction arrive at the client. Therefore, also our polling jobs "check_progress.php5" should be able to react to empty superglobals $_POST and $_FILES :

if ( ( empty( $_POST ) ) && empty ( $_FILES ) ) {
	// Our error treatment ....
	// create an error message and send it to the Ajax client 
	// refer to messages that may turn up in parallel from the main PHP program
	....
}

 
The different Javascript client methods which receive their respective Ajaj messages should evaluate the error messages and error numbers from the server, display them and, of course, stop the polling loop in case it is still active. As these are trivial programming steps we do not look deeper into them.

Avoid trouble with limiting PHP parameters before starting the file upload

Although we can react to error situations as described above I think it is better to avoid them. Therefore, I suggest to check file size limits before starting any upload process.

In our special situation with just one big Zip-file to upload we can initiate a file size limit check on the server as soon as we choose the file on the client. This means that the Javascript client must be enabled to react to the file selection action and request some information about the parameters "post_max_size" and "upload_max_filesize" from the server. In addition we need a method to compare the server limits with the size of the chosen file.

Looking into
CSV file upload with ZIP containers, jQuery, Ajax and PHP 5.4 progress control – II
we see that we had defined a proper Javascript Control Object [CtrlO] for the upload form

<form id="form_upload" name="init_file_form"  action="handle_uploaded_init_files.php5" method="POST" enctype="multipart/form-data" >

 
which - among other things - contains the file selection input tag:

<input type="file" name="init_file" id="inp_upl_file" >

 
However, we had not assigned any method to the file selection process itself. We are changing this now:

function Ctrl_File_Upl(my_name) {
	
	this.obj_name = "Obj_" + my_name; 
	
	// Controls related to GOC and dispatched object addresses
	this.GOC = GOC;
        this.SO_Tbl_Info = null; 
        this.SO_Msg      = null; 
			
	// ay to keep the selected file handles 
	this.ay_files = new Array(); 
		
	// msg for 1st Ajax phasefor file upload; 
	this.msg1 = ''; 
		
	// Timeout for file transfer process
	// this.timeout = 500000; // internet servers  
	this.timeout = 300000; 
		
	// define selectors (form, divs) 
	this.div_upload_cont_sel 	= "#" + "div_upload_cont";
	this.div_upload_sel 		= "#" + "div_upload";
	this.p_header_upload_sel 	= "#" + "upl_header" + " > span";
			
	this.form_upload_sel 		= "#" + "form_upload";
	this.input_file_sel 		= "#" + "inp_upl_file";
	this.upl_submit_but 		= "#" + "but_submit_upl";

	this.hinp_upl_tbl_num_sel	= "#" + "hinp_upl_tbl_num";			
	this.hinp_upl_tbl_name_sel	= "#" + "hinp_upl_tbl_name";			
	this.hinp_upl_tbl_snr_sel	= "#" + "hinp_upl_tbl_snr";			
	this.hinp_upl_succ_sel 		= "#" + "hinp_upl_succ";			
	this.hinp_upl_run_type_sel 	= "#" + "hinp_upl_run_type";			
	this.hinp_upl_file_name_sel 	= "#" + "hinp_upl_file_name";			
	this.hinp_upl_file_pipe_sel 	= "#" + "hinp_upl_file_pipe";

	// display the number of extracted and processed files 
	this.num_open_files_sel		= '#' + "num_open_files";
	this.num_extracted_files_sel 	= '#' + "num_extracted_files";
	
	// Other objects on the web page - progress area 
	this.trf_msg_cont	= '#' + "trf_msg_cont";
	this.trf_msg		= '#' + "trf_msg";
	this.imp_msg_cont	= '#' + "imp_msg_cont";
	this.imp_msg		= '#' + "imp_msg";
				
	// Status (!) message box (not the right msg box) 
	this.status_div_cont = '#' + "status_div_cont";
	this.id_progr_msg_p  = "#progr_msg"; 
	
	//progress bar 
	this.id_bar = "#bar"; 
			
	// right msg block
	this.span_main_msg	= "span_msg"; 
	
	// variables to control the obligatory check of the file size 
	this.file_size_is_ok = 1; 
			
	// variables for the Ajax response 
	this.upl_file_succ 	= 0; 
	this.upl_file_name 	= ''; 
        
	// File associated variables
	this.file_name      = '';
        this.file_size_js   = 0; 	// file size detected by JS
        this.file_size      = '';	// file size detected by server
        this.allowed_file_size = 0;	// allowed file size for uploads on the server  
        
	// Processing of files     
        this.num_extracted_files = 0;
	this.file_pipeline 	 = 0; 
	this.import_time 	 = 0; 
	this.transfer_time 	 = 0; 
        
	this.name_succ_dir = ''; 
	this.num_open_files = 1;  

	// transfer time measurement 
	this.date_start = 0;   
	this.date_end = 0; 
	this.ajax_transfer_start = 0; 
	this.ajax_transfer_end 	 = 0; 
			
	// database import time measurement 
	this.date_data_import_start = 0; 
	this.date_data_import_end = 0; 
	this.data_import_start = 0; 
	this.data_import_end = 0; 
			
	this.transfer_time	= 0; 
	this.processing_time = 0; 
	this.time_start = 0; 
			
	// Determine URL for the Form 
	this.url = $(this.form_upload_sel).attr('action'); 
	console.log("Form_Upload_file - url = " + this.url);  				

	// Register methods for event handling 
	this.register_form_events(); 
			 
}	
	
// Method to start uploading the file  
// -------------------------------------------------------------------
Ctrl_File_Upl.prototype.register_form_events = function() {
			
	$(this.input_file_sel).click(
		$.proxy(this, 'select_file') 
	);
			
	$(this.input_file_sel).change(
		$.proxy(this, 'fetch_allowed_file_size') 
	);
	
	$(this.upl_submit_but).click(
		$.proxy(this, 'submit_form') 
	);
				
	$(this.form_upload_sel).submit( 
		$.proxy(this, 'upl_file') 
	); 
					
}; 

 
The reader recognizes that in contrast to the version of the CtrlO "Ctrl_File_Upl" discussed in previous articles of this series we have added some selector IDs for fields of some other web page areas. But the really important change is an extension of the methods for additional events in "Ctrl_File_Upl.prototype.register_form_events()":

First, we react to a click of the file selection button of the file input field. This only serves the purpose of resetting fields and message areas on the web page. But we react also to the file selection itself by using the change event of the file input field. This triggers a method "fetch_allowed_file_size()" which retrieves the parameter "upload_max_filesize" from the server.

Note:
We assume here that the server admin was clever enough to set post_max_size > upload_max_filesize!
Therefore, we only will perform a file size comparison with the value of "upload_max_filesize". If you do not trust your server admin just extend the methods and programs presented below by an additional and separate check for file sizes bigger than "post_max_size". This should be an easy exercise for you.

Now, let us have a look at the new methods of our Javascript CtrlO :

	
// Method to react to a click on the file selection box 
// ---------------------------------------------------- 
Ctrl_File_Upl.prototype.select_file = function (e) {
	// Call method to reset information and message fields 
	// Note: The following method also deactivates the file submit button !  
	this.reset_upl_info(); 
};

	
// Method to check whether file size is too big   
// ---------------------------------------------
// We check whether the file size is too big 
Ctrl_File_Upl.prototype.fetch_allowed_file_size = function (e) {
			
	this.file_size_is_ok = 0; 
			
	// size of the file im MByte determined on the client 
	this.file_size_js = $(this.input_file_sel)[0].files[0].size/1024/1024;
	console.log("actual file size of chosen file = " + this.file_size_js); 	
			
	// Now trigger an Ajaj transaction 
	var ajax_url = "../func/get_allowed_file_size.php5"; 
	var form_data = ''; 
			
	// 03.07.2015: we avoid setup as this would be taken as the standard for subsequent Ajax jobs 
	$.ajax({
                //contentType: "application/x-www-form-urlencoded; charset=ISO-8859-1",
                // context:  Ctrl_Status
                url: ajax_url, 
		context:  this, 
		data: form_data, 
		type: 'POST', 
		dataType: 'json', 
                success: this.response_allowed_file_size, 
                error: this.error_allowed_file_size
        });
};

// Method for Ajaj error handling during file size check transaction 		
// --------------------------------------------------------------	
Ctrl_File_Upl.prototype.error_allowed_file_size = function(jqxhr, error_type) {
			
	// Reset the cursor 
	$('body').css('cursor', 'default' ); 

	// Error handling
	console.log("From Ctrl_File_Upl ::  got Ajax error for fetch_allowed_file_size" );  
	var status = jqxhr.status; 
	var status_txt = jqxhr.statusText; 
	console.log("From Ctrl_File_Upl.prototype.error_allowed_file_size() ::  status = " + status );  
	console.log("From Ctrl_File_Upl.prototype.allowed_file_size ::  status_text = " + status_txt ); 
	console.log("From Ctrl_File_Upl.prototype.allowed_file_size ::  error_type = " + error_type ); 
			
	var msg = "<br>Status: " + status + "  Status text: " + status_txt;    
	this.SO_Msg.show_msg(1, msg); 
};

// Method for Ajaj rsponse handling after file size check transaction 		
// --------------------------------------------------------------			
Ctrl_File_Upl.prototype.response_allowed_file_size = function (json_response, success_code, jqxhr) {
	
	// Reset the cursor 
	$('body').css('cursor', 'default' ); 
				
	var new_msg; 
	var status = jqxhr.status; 
	var status_txt = jqxhr.statusText; 
	console.log("response_allowed_fsize: status = " + status + " , status_text = " + status_txt ); 	

	// The allowed file size on the server
	this.allowed_file_size = json_response['allowed_size'];	
	// parseInt required due to possible MB or GB endings on the server 
	this.allowed_file_size = parseInt(this.allowed_file_size); 
	console.log("allowed file size on server = " + this.allowed_file_size); 	

	// size comparison
	// ----------------
	if ( this.file_size_js > this.allowed_file_size ) {
		this.file_size_is_ok = 0; 
		new_msg = $(this.span_main_msg).html();
		if (new_msg == undefined) {
			new_msg = ""; 
		}
		new_msg += "<br><span style=\"color:#A90000;\">File size too big.</span><br>" +
		"The server allows for files with a size ≤ " +  	
		parseFloat(this.allowed_file_size).toFixed(2) + " MB." + "<br>" + 
		"The size of the chosen file is " + parseFloat(this.file_size_js).toFixed(2) + " MB." + "<br><br>" + 
		"<span style=\"color:#A90000;\">Please choose a different file or reduce the contents !</span>" + "<br><br>" + 
		"If you permanently need a bigger file size limit on the server, please contact your administrator"; 
					
		this.SO_Msg.show_msg(0, new_msg); 
				
	// file size within limits 
	// -------------------------
	else {
		this.file_size_is_ok = 1; 
					
		new_msg = $(this.span_main_msg).html();
		if (new_msg == undefined) {
			new_msg = ""; 
		}
		new_msg += "<br><span style=\"color:#007700;\">File size within server limits.</span><br>" +
		"The server allows for files with a size ≤ " +  parseFloat(this.allowed_file_size).toFixed(2) + " MB." + "<br>" + 
		"The size of the chosen file is " + parseFloat(this.file_size_js).toFixed(2) + " MB." + "<br><br>" + 
		"<span style=\"color:#007700;\">Use the "Start Upload" button to start the file upload!</span>"; 
					
		this.SO_Msg.show_msg(0, new_msg); 
					
		// reactivate the submit button 
		// -----------------------------
		$(this.upl_submit_but).on("click", $.proxy(this, 'submit_form') ); 
		$(this.upl_submit_but).css("color", "#990000"); 
	}
};
	
// Method to reset some form and information fields on the web page 
// ---------------------------------------------------------------
// We have to reset some form and message fields
Ctrl_File_Upl.prototype.reset_upl_info = function() {
				
	var msg_progr = ''; 
	$(this.id_progr_msg_p).html('');
				
	var msg_trf = ''; 
	$(this.trf_msg_cont).css('display', 'none');
	$(this.trf_msg).css('color: #666'); 
	$(this.trf_msg).html(msg_trf);
		    	
	var msg_imp = ''; 
	$(this.imp_msg_cont).css('display', 'none'); 
	$(this.imp_msg).css('color: #666'); 
	$(this.imp_msg).html(msg_imp); 
		    	
	// Deactivate the "Start Upload" Button 
	// ------------------------------------
	$(this.upl_submit_but).off("click"); 
	$(this.upl_submit_but).css("color", "#BBB"); 

	// Reset also the main message area  
	// ----------------------------------------------
	this.SO_Msg.show_msg(0, ''); 

};	

 
This is all pretty straightforward and parts of it are already well known of our previous descriptions for handling the Ajaj interactions with the server by the help of jQuery functionality.

A short description of what happens is:

  • When you click on the button of the file selection input field contents of fields in the message area of our web page and information fields about upload progress are reset as we assume that a new upload will be started.
  • During reset also the form's submit button to start a file upload via Ajax/Ajaj is disabled. Note that we use jQuery's "off('event')"-functionality to to this.
  • As soon as the user selects a specific file we trigger a method which determines and saves the size of the chosen file to a variable and starts an Ajax transaction afterwards. This Ajax interaction calls a target PHP program "get_allowed_file_size.php5" in some directory.
  • The JSON-response of the PHP program is handled by the method
    Ctrl_File_Upl.prototype.response_allowed_file_size.

      The main purpose of this method is to make a comparison of the already determined file size with the limit set on the server and issue some warnings or positive messages. If the file size of the chosen file is within the server's limit we reactivate our "submit" button of the upload form. (Note that we use jQuery's "on('event')"-functionality to to this.) Otherwise we keep it inactive - until a more suitable file is chosen by the user.

Thus, by very simple means we prevent any unreasonable upload process already before it can be started by the user.

It remains to show an excerpt of the simple PHP target file:

<?php

// start session and output buffer
session_start();
ob_start(); 

$file_size_limit = ini_get("upload_max_filesize");
$ajax_response = array();
$ajax_response['allowed_size'] = $file_size_limit; 

$ajax_response['sys_msg'] .= ob_get_contents();
ob_end_clean();

$response = json_encode($ajax_response);
echo $response;
exit; 

?>

Nothing special to discuss here.

Can we change the limiting parameters during PHP program execution?

No, we can not. But as a developer you may be able to define directory specific settings both for "post_max_size" and "upload_max_filesize" on the server by uploading ".htaccess"-files or ".user.ini"-files to program directories - if this is allowed by the administrator.

The web page php.net/manual/en/ini.core.php shows a column "Changeable" for all important parameters and the respective allowed change mechanisms.
See also:
http://php.net/manual/en/ini.list.php

Different methods of how to change PHP parameters as a user are described here:

 
However, if you are not a developer but a server admin, preventing users from changing PHP ini-paramters may even be more important for you:

 
Enough for today. In the next article of this series

CSV file upload with ZIP containers, jQuery, Ajax and PHP 5.4 progress tracking – VII

we shall have a look at possible problems resulting from timeout limits set for our Ajax transactions.