Forum: Ruby on Rails RJS, Prototype and finding out if object exists in the DOM

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Moe Z. (Guest)
on 2007-03-13 14:17
i asked this allready in german on rubyforum.com and also on
#rubyonrails (thanks again for your time, njero)
http://forum.ruby-portal.de/viewtopic.php?t=4067

how is it possible to find out, if an object (div) exists in the DOM via
RJS? i am trying to find out if an object exists before applying a
visual action on it, so there is no javascript error produced.
generally, objects can be fetched via getElementById, which is the same
as $('elementid') in prototype. but this seems to be useless, since it
is always creating an ActionView::Helpers::JavaScriptVariableProxy - so
i cannot check if the object _exists_

here is the two ways i tried

1. RJS and Prototype
# the rjs
thename = 'person'+params['id'].to_s
if page[thename] then
  p "YES"
else
  p "NO"
end

# this is in the html

<div id="person105" class="searchlist">
  <div class="searchlist_img" style="float: left;">
    <img src="/images/icons/person_f.png">
  </div>

2. Custom Javascript

thename = 'person'+params['id'].to_s
page << ("function existing(invar){ if (document.getElementById(invar)
!= null)  {return true; }else {return false;} }")
r=page.call :existing,thename

if r  then p "yes"
else p "no"
end


any more ideas how to solve that problem? i am wondering why nobody
seems to have had this problem allready. how do you guys prevent
javascript errors? is there another way to have sort of safe RJS calls?

thanks!
zecko
Bill W. (Guest)
on 2007-03-13 15:38
(Received via mailing list)
Hi Moe,

Moe Zecko wrote:

> how is it possible to find out, if an object (div) exists
> in the DOM via RJS? i am trying to find out if an
> object exists before applying a visual action on it, so
> there is no javascript error produced.

Interesting question.  I'll start by saying I still consider myself
pretty
new to Rails, js, and Ajax.  I was out of hands-on development for 15
years
and have only been working with Rails for a little over a year now.  So
I
either don't understand your question, or your context, or both ;-)
More
below.

> i am wondering why nobody seems to have had
> this problem allready. how do you guys prevent
> javascript errors? is there another way to have
> sort of safe RJS calls?

I think Rails probably eliminates most of the need for the kind of thing
you're asking about.  In general, I know that something exists in the
DOM
because I put it there.  99.9% of the time, the page content in a Rails
app
is rendered dynamically.  If it's on the page, it's there because I just
put
it there; typically as a result of something that's stored in the
database.
In your case, it looks like you're probably doing or could be doing a
find
on your Person model.  If the find returns a result, then there's a DOM
element.  If the situation were one where the Person record could exist
in
the database but I might or might not have rendered a DOM element, I'd
either put a field in the database or use a session variable to track
it,
depending on the situation.

hth,
Bill
Ed Hickey (Guest)
on 2007-03-13 15:44
(Received via mailing list)
The only way I've found to do IF statements in RJS is to write them in
traditional JS, eg:

page <<
"if( $(element) ){
  Element.remove(element);
}"

Someone wrote a patch for RJS to include IF statements, but I don't
believe
it was included.  Search Trac for the code if you're interested.

ed
Moe Z. (Guest)
on 2007-03-13 16:28
Hi Bill,

> I think Rails probably eliminates most of the need for the kind of thing
> you're asking about.  In general, I know that something exists in the
> DOM because I put it there.  99.9% of the time, the page content in a Rails
> app is rendered dynamically.  If it's on the page, it's there because I just
> put it there; typically as a result of something that's stored in the
> database.

the problem is the following: i know that the entry exists in the
database, but i don't know if the representation of that item is
currently displayed on the screen.
there are 2 parts on the screen: on the left side is a search result
(titles only), on the right side there is the detail view for a specific
entry. if i am deleting an entry on the right side, it should also
remove the representation, if it is there. since i don't know if it is
there (the user might have changed the search-result via ajax-search) i
have to check if that specific object exists before removing it. else
there is a javascript-error popup appearing and javascript might not
work for future actions.
so there are 2 ways to solve this problem:

1. check if the object is existing in the left side-bar
2. run some sort of "safe-rjs-action", which does not fail if the object
is not existing.

for both ways i did not succeed in finding any answers.

thanks for any hints,
mz.
Bill W. (Guest)
on 2007-03-13 17:37
(Received via mailing list)
Hi Moe,

Moe Zecko wrote:

> work for future actions.
> so there are 2 ways to solve this problem:
>
> 1. check if the object is existing in the left side-bar
> 2. run some sort of "safe-rjs-action", which does not fail if the object
> is not existing.

I see three ways, but to start I'd back up to your problem statement.
The
reason you don't know if the item is in the left side is because you're
allowing the two sides to get disconnected.  What does the visitor see
on
the right side immediately after their _first_ search?  Is it blank (or
some
default content) until they click one of the items on the left to get
details?  Or is it the first item?  Or something else?  Whatever it is,
my
recommendation would be to treat every search the same way.  Otherwise
you're setting yourself up for a problem re: consistent-user-experience.
So...

1) Every time the user does a search, change the right side to whatever
default you choose.

If you insist on letting the disconnect occur...

2) Every time the user does a search, persist the results and whatever
else
you need to identify the DOM elements that'll be on the left side in a
session variable.  When the user deletes an item from the right side, in
your delete_right_side method, check the persisted search results to see
if
the item is in there.  If it is, delete the DOM element from the left.

Note that (2) still leaves you with a '?'.  Independent of whether or
not
there's a corresponding item on the left, what's going to show up on the
right side when they delete an item from there?

3) Don't use RJS for this.  Like Rails, it's not intended to be a
be-all-end-all.  It's one tool that's very useful in the circumstances
it
was intended to address.  This may or may not be one of those
circumstances.

hth,
Bill
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