HierMenus CENTRAL: HierMenus In Progress. HierMenus 5.3 Release Notes (7/7) | WebReference

HierMenus CENTRAL: HierMenus In Progress. HierMenus 5.3 Release Notes (7/7)

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Other Implementation Issues


Our implementation of rollovers in HierMenus followed two basic steps. First, when each menu item is first created, we gather all the images that were embedded within the item, and match each of them with the rollover images included in the HM_o_RolloverImages images object. All those that match are saved in an array that is attached to the item itself, and to each image is applied new properties that contain the values of the original and rollover image src values. Second, we apply the image sources appropriately whenever the the menu item is highlighted or dimmed.

In order to simplify the script where item hiliting is concerned, we've created a new, generic function, HM_f_Itemhighlight, that is now attached to every menu item when the item is created. Whenever we need to highlight or dim an item, we call this function, which now replaces several redundant blocks of code in the HM script, all of which were performing the same type of hiliting from different locations.

To further streamline the item hiliting process (which now may include the application of rollover images) we've moved the HM_KeepHilite logic--that's the logic that's responsible for the continuous hiliting of a parent item while its child menus are rolled over--from the menu item's mouseover handler to the child menu's mouseover, instead. This reduces--and in many cases eliminates--the brief "flicker" in the parent item that is sometimes seen when the mouse moves from a parent item over its child menu. (Flicker that is caused by the fact that the mouseover for the item doesn't appear until the mouse makes it all the way into the menu item itself; but the mouseout of the parent item is processed as soon as the mouse rolls over the child menu's border.)

The majority of these steps went very smoothly. But, as is usually the case, there were a few glitches.

Mac IE5: Images Not Available

You cannot gather the embedded images in Mac IE5 as soon as the menu item itself is created. This is because the individual properties of the item have not yet been completely updated by the browser yet. We've seen this often in Mac IE5, and the fix here is the same as it has always been: we must wait to ensure that the browser has time to completely update the internal properties of the menu item in question before we analyze it for rollover images. We do this by simply moving the "image acquisition" phase of the rollover process to the HM_f_FixSize procedure for Mac IE5 only.

Windows IE4: Too Much Flicker

In IE4 for windows, even after we moved the KeepHilite logic into the MenuOver method, we still noticed a lot of flickering while rolling over individual menu items. To reduce this, we're implementing fromElement and toElement checking across the board for all the item and menu mouseover and mouseout handlers. i.e., In each of the handlers we now have code similar to this:


This is similar to logic already present in HM; but we've previously not applied it on such a broad scale (and it was previously not applied to all of the mouseover/out handlers of both menus and menu items). In our testing this reduced the flicker in IE4, creating a smoother display, and was especially helpful where image rollovers were concerned.

Netscape 4.0x: document.images can't be concatenated

When acquiring images in Netscape 4.x, remember that positioned layers--including our own menu items--each include their own document.images array. Further, any additional layers embedded within the menu items will have their own document.images array, and so on. Thus, to gather all the images in a NS4.x menu item, you must recursively walk through the individual layers of the menu item, examining each document.images array in turn, and you cannot use a single element.getElementsByTagName or element.all.tags call as we do in the DOM and IE4 code.

In our first attempt at the Netscape 4.x code, we attempted to recursively concatenate all of the embedded document.images arrays in a layer into a single array for further examination. This worked well in later NS4.x browsers, but in the earliest browsers (4.04, 4.05) the document.images arrays refused to be flattened into a single array when concatenated; i.e., this:

var TempArray=new Array();
TempArray = TempArray.concat(theLayer.document.images);

resulted not in a single array of images, as it did in later Netscape 4.x browsers, but instead in an array of image arrays. Therefore in Netscape 4.x, we simply walk through the document.image arrays one at a time, attaching the images to our main array as we find them.

More Imaging Positioning

Only one glitch was encountered when rolling in the new more image positioning logic. When attempting to add a specific width and height to a more image in Internet Explorer (a specific width has always been an option; but a specific height is new to HM 5.3, and necessary to support top, middle, and bottom more image positioning) we found that IE did not always honor our supplied values, instead loading the images based on their native heights and widths. Indeed, this may have been a longstanding problem that we've simply not noticed. To counteract this problem, we're reassigning our desired heights and widths to the more images in our HM_f_FixSize routine; which should give the browser enough time to completely load the images and set its own dimensions on them before we attempt to override them.

Flubs Fixed: Other HM Fixes and Adjustments

Horizontal more image positioning incorrect in Safari

With our "more image" specific mentality in full gear, we noticed an oddity in variable width more image positions in Safari that has been present in all previous versions of HM. Specifically, some more images seemed to have additional padding, equal to the width of the more image itself, inserted between the menu item text and the more image. While we provide for the placement of additional space between the more image and the menu item's padding, the space between the more image and the menu item text should simply be equal to the item's padding, and no more. This extra space is most noticeable in variable width horizontal menus (since each menu item is condensed to its shortest possible length) but could theoretically affect any menu item.

The extra space is caused by the following peculiarity in the Safari browser. In Safari, the offsetWidth of an element that doesn't have a width specified includes the width of contained, absolutely positioned objects; unless the element itself also contains another block level element that is not absolutely positioned. Or, in other words, given the following construct:

<div id="theRectangle1"
   style="margin:0px 0px 0px 0px; 
          padding:0px 0px 0px 0px; 
          border:0px 0px 0px 0px; 
          background-color:red; height:10px; 
          position:absolute; top:10px; left:10px; 
 src="/art/t.gif" width="10" height="10" 
         alt="nothing" /><img 
 width="10" height="10" alt="Blue Square" 
 style="position:absolute; top:0px; left:0px" /></div>

We would expect to see a 10x10 blue square on the page; the blue square represented by the absolutely positioned "bluebox.gif" within the outer div container. Since the inner image is absolutely positioned, we don't expect it to adjust the width of its containing element. This is the behavior we see in both Internet Explorer and Gecko based browsers.

In Safari, however, we do not see a single blue square, but instead we see a blue square with a red square (i.e, the initial clear image of the outer div) immediately to the right of it. The result is an overall div width of 20, not 10; and indeed the offsetWidth as reported by Safari for theRectangle1 is 20. The resulting "additional width" is assumed by HM to be a genuine part of the menu item itself, which is then sized accordingly (and incorrectly).

Our initial attempt to correct the problem involved simply reducing the width of variable width menu items by the width of the more images (assuming the menu item in question had a more image). While simple and elegant, the problem with this fix was that it did not account for the fact that the problem was only evident if the menu item itself did not contain a non-positioned block element within it. Any HTML can be present in a menu item description, meaning that in an array such as this:

HM_Array1_1 = [
["<p>Menu Item 1</p>","link1.html",1,0,1],
["Menu Item 2","link2.html",1,0,1]

Menu Item 1 would not report the faulty width; while Menu Item 2 would be reported as wider than it was. To account for this potential difference, we're enclosing all menu item descriptions in Safari in an additional, non-positioned div container. Safari doesn't seem to mind the additional container, and applying it removes all doubts as to how the offsetWidth is reported within that browser. To avoid applying additional structure where it is unnecessary, we apply this change only to variable width menu items in Safari.

Horizontal Menus Not High Enough

If the last menu item in a horizontal menu was taller than all the others, (because of specific font settings, line wrapping, etc.) then the menu itself would not be made taller to account for it. This was the result of a bug in our HM_f_FixSize routine and affected all browsers.

Menus Don't Rebuild In Safari Cross-Frames

In a cross-frames scenario in the Safari Web browser only, the menus would not automatically rebuild in the content frame when the visitor clicked through to a page outside of the current domain and then returned to a page within the current domain. This bug was the result of an adjustment we made and documented in HierMenus 5.2. When we made this adjustment, we did not properly account for some IE specific code that was irrelevant to (and caused errors in) Safari. We've separated out that code from the Safari logic to account for this and all is well again.

Unnecessary horizontal scroll bars in IE4

Pages that display menus often include unnecessary horizontal scroll bars in Internet Explorer 4; the direct result of building the initial menus without specific left/top settings. We corrected this problem (by intentionally building the menus offscreen, as we do in the DOM script) but immediately introduced another; namely, that the menus cannot be immediately accessed for purposes of adjusting their dimensions (ala our HM_f_FixSize routine) when they are created, as their internal properties are not completely "filled in" yet. We've previously encountered this problem in IE4 on permanently displayed menus, but we hadn't seen it on child menus. Once we made the top/left change mentioned above, we saw it on any IE4 menu that was displayed as soon as it was created.

The fix is the same as the fix we originally introduced for the permanently displayed menus: we simply ensure that the HM_f_FixSize routine is not called on a newly created menu without an intervening timeout. This change resulted in adjustments to both the showChild and HM_f_PopUp logic; but the result is more consistent menu displays with no unnecessary horizontal scrollbars in the IE4 browser.

Incorrect Popup Menu Positioning in NS4

If you set cross-frames positioning to false (HM_GL_FramesEnabled=false) and additionally set FramesNavFramePos, then Netscape 4 would incorrectly position pop up menus (usually to the top of the screen, or whichever dimension you had FramesNavFramePos set to). We fixed this by checking for HM_FramesEnabled before determining the mouse position on menu popups; instead of checking immediately for HM_FramesNavFramePos. Thanks to David S. Zahler of Sullivan & Company for being the first to point out this error.

Rollover layer not created identically to original layer in NS4.x

In some rare, specific instances, we've found that the rollover layer--the layer of text that is displayed when NSFontOver is true in Netscape 4.x--is not identical to the original text layer in dimensions. The result is that the rollover layer may be line-wrapped when the original layer isn't, causing a display that appears to lose some menu item text when the item is rolled over. We've corrected this problem by adjusting the initial width of the rollover layer to be the full potential width of the item, instead of only the text width of the item (which in some cases was causing the rollover layer to be incorrectly line wrapped).


As always, we thank our user-base for your contributions and suggestions, which often point us in directions (no pun intended) that we hadn't fully analyzed before. Keep your eyes on this HM_InProgress area for further release notes and helpful HM tutorials.

Files Changed in HM 5.3

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Created: October 23, 2003
Revised: October 23, 2003

URL: http://www.webreference.com/dhtml/hiermenus/inprogress/9/7.html

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