A Really Simple jQuery Plugin Tutorial

A Really Simple jQuery Plugin Tutorial

A Really Simple jQuery Plugin Tutorial

1. Introduction

Creating a jQuery Plugin is an advanced topic for a jQuery beginner. This month, I have been playing with jQuery intensively. Though I have learnt how to separate the javascript code from html document, I ain't satisfy yet. Whenever I look at my javascript file, it's messy. So, I have decided to go one step further - learn how to write a jQuery plugin to tidy up the javascript file.

This plugin is based on my previous tutorial - Navigation List menu + jQuery Animate Effect Tutorial . Last time, I wrote the script and chucked in all the code in the document.ready section, like this:

$(document).ready(function() {
	$('ul#menu li:even').addClass('even');
	$('ul#menu li a').mouseover(function() {
		$(this).animate( { paddingLeft:"20px" }, { queue:false, duration:500 });
	}).mouseout(function() {
		$(this).animate( { paddingLeft:"0" }, { queue:true, duration:500 });
	}).click(function() {
		$(this).animate( { fontSize:"20px" }, { queue:false, duration:500 });

But now, I want it to display something like this:
$(document).ready(function() {

It looks much more better, and easier to reuse this script for another project.


2. Plugin Structure

jQuery website has provided a very detailed explanation in Plugins/Authoring page. However, I found it's hard to understand.

Alright, to make your life easier, I did some research online, the following snippet will be a good structure to write a plugin.

//You need an anonymous function to wrap around your function to avoid conflict

	//Attach this new method to jQuery
 		//This is where you write your plugin's name
 		pluginname: function() {

			//Iterate over the current set of matched elements
    		return this.each(function() {
				//code to be inserted here
//pass jQuery to the function, 
//So that we will able to use any valid Javascript variable name 
//to replace "$" SIGN. But, we'll stick to $ (I like dollar sign: ) )		


2. Plugin With Options

If you look at step one - Introduction, the "padding" value for this plugin is user configurable. It good to have some settings so that user able to chage it according to their own needs. Please make sure you specify the default values for each of the variables for good practise. Now, you'll need the following code:


		//pass the options variable to the function
 		pluginname: function(options) {

			//Set the default values, use comma to separate the settings, example:
			var defaults = {
				padding: 20,
				mouseOverColor : '#000000',
				mouseOutColor : '#ffffff'
			var options =  $.extend(defaults, options);

    		return this.each(function() {
				var o = options;
				//code to be inserted here
				//you can access the value like this


3. The animateMenu Plugin

Now you have learnt the plugin structure. The following is the plugin I created based on my previous tutorial. I have successfull convert the standard jQuery script to a plugin that accepts 4 configurations:

  • animatePadding : Set the padding value for the animate effect
  • defaultPadding : Set the default padding value
  • evenColor : Set the color this color if index value is even number
  • oddColor : Set the color this color if index value is odd number
		//plugin name - animatemenu
		animateMenu: function(options) {

			//Settings list and the default values
			var defaults = {
				animatePadding: 60,
				defaultPadding: 10,
				evenColor: '#ccc',
				oddColor: '#eee'
			var options = $.extend(defaults, options);
    		return this.each(function() {
				var o =options;
				//Assign current element to variable, in this case is UL element
				var obj = $(this);				
				//Get all LI in the UL
				var items = $("li", obj);
				//Change the color according to odd and even rows
				$("li:even", obj).css('background-color', o.evenColor);				
			 	$("li:odd", obj).css('background-color', o.oddColor);					  
				//Attach mouseover and mouseout event to the LI  
				items.mouseover(function() {
					$(this).animate({paddingLeft: o.animatePadding}, 300);
				}).mouseout(function() {
					$(this).animate({paddingLeft: o.defaultPadding}, 300);


4. Full source code

You can save the plugin in a separated file (for example, jquery.animatemenu.js). In this tutorial, I put the script in the html document.

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" 
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" lang="en" xml:lang="en">
    <script type="text/javascript" src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-latest.js"></script>

 		//plugin name - animatemenu
 		animateMenu: function(options) {

			var defaults = {
			    animatePadding: 60,
           		defaultPadding: 10,
           		evenColor: '#ccc',
           		oddColor: '#eee',
			var options = $.extend(defaults, options);
    		return this.each(function() {
				  var o =options;
				  var obj = $(this);				
				  var items = $("li", obj);
				  $("li:even", obj).css('background-color', o.evenColor);				
				  $("li:odd", obj).css('background-color', o.oddColor);					  
				  items.mouseover(function() {
					  $(this).animate({paddingLeft: o.animatePadding}, 300);
				  }).mouseout(function() {
					  $(this).animate({paddingLeft: o.defaultPadding}, 300);
	<script type="text/javascript">
	$(document).ready(function() {
		$('#menu').animateMenu({animatePadding: 30, defaultPadding:10});
	  body {font-family:arial;font-style:bold}
	  a {color:#666; text-decoration:none}
		#menu {list-style:none;width:160px;padding-left:10px;}
		#menu li {margin:0;padding:5px;cursor:hand;cursor:pointer}

<ul id="menu">


I hope this tutorial will give you a better understanding. It isn't too hard at all to create a jQuery plugin. I was reluctantly to learn at first, but now, I realized how simple it is.

I will be publishing another tutorial soon - How to create a simple Accordion jQuery Plugin. So, stay tuned.

Author: Kevin Liew

Kevin Liew is a web designer and developer and keen on contributing to the web development industry. He loves frontend development and absolutely amazed by jQuery. Feel free to say hi to me, or follow @quenesswebblog on twitter.

Share the love


Fri, 2nd March 2012
Great tutorial! I enjoyed how each step, you added a little more jQuery so the user could see how the plugin progresses. Reply
Evan Espey
Sun, 1st April 2012
I've been looking everywhere for a plugin tutorial like this-thanks! To improve on this demo though add the hoverIntent plugin (to prevent unneccesary function calls when mousing over the wrong button). This will prevent that weird jumpiness that occurs when you mouse over the buttons too quickly. Reply
Tue, 3rd April 2012
best tutorial on plugin so far Reply
Tue, 24th April 2012
Simple. Neat and effective. Thanks a ton Reply
Thu, 3rd May 2012
Very cool me love it!! Reply
Fri, 11th May 2012
Very nice tutorial, thanks.
one thing I noticed $(this) is not required according the Jquery site ( they say '$(this) would be the same as $($('#element'))') it says 'this' is already a jquery object so we can just use 'this' Reply
Mon, 21st May 2012
Very helpful and simple article to learn how to write plug-in. Please do write more articles like this. Reply
Wed, 23rd May 2012
Great article, love it <3 Reply
Amol Bhavsar
Mon, 18th June 2012
Excellent tutorial.
No complex code understanding.

Well done!!! Reply
Tue, 3rd July 2012
Thanks, this will make it easy for me to understand this plugin I am trying to extend. Reply
Wed, 18th July 2012
If you hover many times, the animation goes on and on. The jquery stop function may help... Reply
Thu, 9th August 2012
Nice to learn and great tutorial....rocks.....Many Thanks..... Reply
Sat, 1st September 2012
Awesome very useful! Reply
Hudson Kotel
Fri, 7th September 2012

I am found the jQuery animate function related to example with php in google. & I have obtain new link related to jQuery animate function with php.These link very useful to my project & other work. This link is....

Sun, 30th September 2012
You rocks!! simple but amazing. thanks a ton man Reply
Dharmendra Sehgal
Wed, 3rd October 2012
Ultimate resource. Reply
Mon, 29th October 2012
Great job. I was just starting to look over plugins. This pointed me in the right direction.

Thanks for the article Reply
Wed, 19th December 2012
this is first time i m commenting..u made me do it...niceeeeeeeeeeeee one Reply
Fri, 11th January 2013
Thanks! This is amazing. You're amazing. Thank you. Reply
Freddie Mac
Thu, 17th January 2013
What if we delete return keyword in your plugin? Reply
Sun, 27th January 2013
Je vous remercie! Reply
Wed, 20th March 2013
Hey Man Its very simple... thanks very much Reply
Rose Michele
Fri, 19th April 2013
This is very helpful for us Reply
vageesh bhat
Mon, 3rd June 2013
thank u very much.....,
very useful for beginers,,, Reply
Thu, 1st August 2013
Wow OMG i love this! Now I can write awsomness in my js code :--) Reply
Thu, 24th October 2013
best jquery plugin tutorial i have ever read....easy to follow.thnx alot Reply
Sun, 24th November 2013
a good Tutorial , thans Reply
Fri, 21st February 2014
Thanks, that was a great tutorial Reply
Wed, 26th March 2014
thnx a lot for this.
It is a best tutorial Reply
Sun, 3rd August 2014
Great tutorial, congratulations Kevin Liew! Reply
Srikanth Reddy
Fri, 17th October 2014
One of the best tutorial for learners.
thanks a lot. Reply
Mon, 23rd March 2015
Outstanding! This is was the first tutorial I read out of about 20 that clicked with me. Very nice and thank you! Reply

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