jQuery Sliding Tab Menu for Sidebar Tutorial

Written by Kevin Liew on 09 Jun 2009
155,663 Views • Tutorials


This tutorial, we will be making a jQuery Sliding Tab Menu for sidebar. Previously, I made a tutorial about jQuery Tabbed Interface / Tabbed Structure Menu, if you have not read it yet, check it out. I'm using it for my sidebar at the moment. The differences between both tab menus are, the sliding direction and this time, we are using a little bit different HTML structure and massive change in jQuery script.

We will be using a famous plugin called jQuery.scrollTo. jQuery scrollTo is an amazing plugin and doing sliding menu has never been so easy! Please continue reading, As usual, this tutorial is separated into 3 sections: HTML, CSS and Javascript.


Structure for jQuery Scroll To Tab Menu

Refer to the image above, it's the DIV structure for this tutorial.

#scroller-header: Inside #scroller-header, this is where we will put the links. In the link HREF attribute, we will put in the id of the sub panels (#panel-1, #panel-2, #panel-3 and #panel-4) inside #panel. jQuery will able to scroll it to the correct position according to the ID specified in the HREF.

#scroller-body: We put a background image about 900px height and set the background position to bottom.

#mask: This DIV plays an important role to hide other panels. Adjusting the height and width of #mask will able to display the panel content. Everytime when a link is clicked, jQuery will get the height of the sub-panel and set the height of #mask accordingly.

#panel: Inside #panel, we have 4 DIVs named #panel-1, #panel-2, #panel3, #panel-4. Those are sub-panels, you can place your content inside here, and feel free to add more sub panels.

<div id="scroller-header">
	<a href="#panel-1" rel="panel" class="selected">Link 1</a>
	<a href="#panel-2" rel="panel">Link 2</a>
	<a href="#panel-3" rel="panel">Link 3</a>
	<a href="#panel-4" rel="panel">Link 4</a>
<div id="scroller-body">
	<div id="mask">
		<div id="panel">
			<div id="panel-1">
			<div id="panel-2">
			<div id="panel-3">
			<div id="panel-4">

2. CSS

Structure for jQuery Scroll To Tab Menu

There are some important css:

#scoller-header, #scroller-body : We can change the background images in these ID. For the #scroller-body, the vertical alignment of the background must be bottom.

#mask : Width is the size of a sub-panel, this width must be specified because we will do some calculation based on it.

#panel div : Float set the left so that the DIV will display in a single row. If you want to scroll it horizontally, you can remove it.

body {
	margin:0 20px;
	font:12px arial;

#scroller-header a {
	padding:0 2px;

#scroller-header a:hover {

a.selected {
	text-decoration:underline !important; 
	color:#4b412f !important;

#scroller-header {
	background:url(images/header.gif) no-repeat;
	padding:35px 0 0 15px;

#scroller-body {
	background:url(images/body.gif) no-repeat bottom center;


#mask {
	margin:0 auto;

#panel {


#panel div {


/* extra optional styling for each tab content */
#panel-1 {

#panel-2 {

#panel-3 {

3. Javascript

With the scrollTo plugin, we don't have to worry about the transition and scrolling effect. This is the advantage of using plugin, everything can be so easy.

Basically, jQuery performs the following steps on page load:

  1. Get the height of the first sub-panel and set it to #mask.
  2. Calculate the width of #panel by multiplying #mask width with total of sub-panel (#panel div)
  3. Set the width of sub-panel according to the #mask width. As a result, #mask width must be the same with sub-panels and must be specified in the CSS.

And, jQuery performs the following steps when a link is clicked:

  1. Get the height of the sub-panel. jQuery grabs the sub-panel id from href attribute of the anchor element.
  2. Remove selected class from all the links, and add the selected class to the user has just clicked.
  3. Do the animation on height, Animate the #mask by setting the height of the sub-panel.
  4. After that, run the scrollTo plugin, scroll it to the sub-panel.
  5. Remember to disable the link default behavior by adding 'Return false' in the end.
$(document).ready(function() {	

	//Get the height of the first item
	//Calculate the total width - sum of all sub-panels width
	//Width is generated according to the width of #mask * total of sub-panels
	$('#panel').width(parseInt($('#mask').width() * $('#panel div').length));
	//Set the sub-panel width according to the #mask width (width of #mask and sub-panel must be same)
	$('#panel div').width($('#mask').width());
	//Get all the links with rel as panel
	$('a[rel=panel]').click(function () {
		//Get the height of the sub-panel
		var panelheight = $($(this).attr('href')).height();
		//Set class for the selected item
		//Resize the height
		$('#mask').animate({'height':panelheight},{queue:false, duration:500});			
		//Scroll to the correct panel, the panel id is grabbed from the href attribute of the anchor
		$('#mask').scrollTo($(this).attr('href'), 800);		
		//Discard the link default behavior
		return false;


That's it. Make sure you check out the demo and download the source code to play with it. If you have created your own, feel free to drop your link in the comment section to show off! : )

Last but not least, I need your support :) If you like this article, please help me to promote it by adding this post into your bookmark. Or you can subscribe to my RSS for more jQuery tutorial posts! Thanks!

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Luke 13 years ago
Thanks for the great tutorial, I have added it to a website I am currently building. One question though, I want to added a link within the panel content which will move the user to the next panel, how can I do this so that the scroll animation is used and the selected class is moved on the scroller header ?
Kevin Liew Admin 13 years ago
good question.. i think you can just duplicate the tab link into the content:

<a href="#panel-2" rel="panel">Link 2</a>

so, the href is the panel you want to scroll to and all the a tag with rel=panel will be picked by jQuery. try that.
Slax 13 years ago
Hey, i'm trying to implement this on my wordpress website and so far its working just fine except I want to use it together with my pagination and every time i change "page" it reverts back to the first tab. Is there any way to add cookie support?
Kevin Liew Admin 13 years ago
yea, you can do that, but i will not able to show you though... you can read it from here:
Simon Farrugia 13 years ago
Has anyone noticed that when zooming the page in and out the panels move and you can see content from both panels?! Don't try this when on the first panel.

Does anyone has a fix for this?
ashraful 13 years ago
I want to use this on drupal7. So, How can I implement it on Drupal7?
Prasant 13 years ago
I wanted to use this technique for a fullscreen layout - where each panel/page will have a width that stretches the width of the view-port. Any help appreciated. Thank you.
Kevin Liew Admin 13 years ago
You need to write a script that resize the panel to the width of the screen. I don't think CSS will able to do that trick, at least not in all browsers.
Adam Robertson 13 years ago
I set up the scrolling header and body, the mask as well as my panels all at 460px. Sliding between panels within the mask works perfectly, however nothing can exists to the right of the header/body. I would like to have other content out to the right of my tab menu but everything I put after gets pushed down to below the scrollable-body leaving ~650px of blank space after the menu. Any suggestions?
Adam Robertson 13 years ago
Sorry, it was a CSS problem, not a jquery plugin issue. Thanks!
hendoko 13 years ago
thanks...i like .....
roman 12 years ago
great post! is it possible to make the tabs collapsible like here: http://jqueryui.com/demos/tabs/#collapsible
tina 12 years ago
I have problem with IE8 , scroll no working
zack 12 years ago
Me also having the same problem

gubendran 12 years ago
I want to set the 4th tab(categories) as default tab. it highlights,but not open 4th tab content. Any one help me
Kevin Liew Admin 12 years ago
After document ready, put this and the ID of the fourth tab:
$('#mask').scrollTo('#ID-PUT-HERE', 0);
Rasheed Sulaiman 12 years ago
Is there a way to make this plugin work with jQuery 1.7.2?