Implementing a Calendar Control in the Yahoo User Interface (YUI)

10 min read

The Basic Calendar Class

The most basic type of calendar is the single-panel Calendar which is created with the YAHOO.widget.Calendar class. To display a calendar, an HTML element is required to act as a container for the calendar. The screenshot shows a basic Calendar control:

Implementing a Calendar Control in the Yahoo User Interface (YUI)

The constructor can then be called specifying, at the very least the id of the container element as an argument. You can also specify the id of the Calendar object as an argument, as well as an optional third argument that can accept a literal object containing various configuration properties.

The configuration object is defined within curly braces within the class constructor. It contains a range of configuration properties and keys that can be used to control different Calendar attributes such as its title, a comma-delimited range of pre-selected dates, or a close button shown on the calendar.

There are a large number of methods defined in the basic Calendar class; some of these are private methods that are used internally by the Calendar object to do certain things and which you normally wouldn’t need to use yourself. Some of the more useful public methods include:

  • Initialization methods including init, initEvents, and initStyles which initialize either the calendar itself or the built-in custom events and style constants of the calendar.
  • A method for determining whether a date is outside of the current month: isDateOOM.
  • Navigation methods such as nextMonth, nextYear, previousMonth, and previousYear that can be used to programmatically change the month or year displayed in the current panel.
  • Operational methods such as addMonths, addYears, subtractMonths, and subtractYears which are used to change the month and year shown in the current panel by the specified number of months or years.
  • The render method is used to draw the calendar on the page and is called in for every implementation of a calendar, after it has been configured. Without this method, no Calendar appears on the page.
  • Two reset methods: reset which resets the Calendar to the month and year originally selected, and resetRenderers which resets the render stack of the calendar.
  • Selection methods that select or deselect dates such as deselect, deselectAll, desellectCell, select, and selectCell.

As you can see, there are many methods that you can call to take advantage of the advanced features of the calendar control.

The CalendarGroup Class

In addition to the basic calendar, you can also create a grouped calendar that displays two or more month panels at once using the YAHOO.widget.CalendarGroup class. The control automatically adjusts the Calendar’s UI so that the navigation arrows are only displayed on the first and last calendar panels, and so that each panel has its own heading indicating which month it refers to.

The CalendarGroup class contains additional built-in functionality for updating the calendar panels on display, automatically. If you have a two-panel calendar displaying, for example, January and February, clicking the right navigation arrow will move February to the left of the panel so that March will display as the right-hand panel. All of this is automatic and nothing needs to be configured by you.

There are fewer methods in this class; some of those found in the basic Calendar class can also be found here, such as the navigation methods, selection methods, and some of the render methods. Native methods found only in the CalendarGroup class include:

  • The subscribing methods sub and unsub, which subscribe or unsubscribe to custom events of each child calendar.
  • Child functions such as the callChildFunction and setChildFunction methods which set and call functions within all child calendars in the calendar group.

Implementing a Calendar

To complete this example, the only tool other than the Yahoo User Interface (YUI) that you’ll need is a basic text editor. Native support for the YUI is provided by some web authoring software packages, most notably Aptana, an open-source application that has been dubbed ‘Dreamweaver Killer’. However, I always find that writing code manually while learning something is much more beneficial.

It is very quick and easy to add the calendar, as the basic default implementations require very little configuration. It can be especially useful in forms where the visitor must enter a date. Checking that a date has been entered correctly and in the correct format takes valuable processing time, but using the YUI calendar means that dates are always exactly as you expect them to be.

So far we’ve spent most of this article looking at a lot of the theoretical issues surrounding the library; I don’t know about you, but I think it’s definitely time to get on with some actual coding!

The Initial HTML Page

Our first example page contains a simple text field and an image, which once clicked will display the Calendar control on the page, thereby allowing for a date to be selected and added to the input. Begin with the following basic HTML page:

<html lang="en">
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html;
<title>YUI Calendar Control Example</title>
<link rel="stylesheet"
<script type="text/javascript"
<script type="text/javascript"
<style type="text/css">
input {
margin:0px 10px 0px 10px;
<body class="yui-skin-sam">
<label>Please enter your date of birth:</label>
<input type="text" name="dobfield" id="dobfield">
<img id="calico" src="icons/cal.png"
alt="Open the Calendar control">
<div id="mycal"></div>

We begin with a valid DOCTYPE declaration, a must in any web page. For validity, we can also add the lang attribute to the opening <html> tag and for good measure, enforce the utf-8 character set. Nothing so far is YUI-specific, but coding in this way every time is a good habit.

We link to the stylesheet used to control the appearance of the calendar control, which is handled in this example by the sam skin within the <link> tag. Accordingly, we also need to add the appropriate class name to the <body> tag.

Following this, we link to the required library files with <script> tags; the calendar control is relatively simple and requires just the YAHOO, Document Object Model (DOM), and Event components (using the aggregated yahoo-dom-event.js file for efficiency), as well as the underlying source file calendar-min.js.

A brief <style> tag finishes the <head> section of the page with some CSS relevant to this particular example, and the <body> of the page at this stage contains just two <div> elements: the first holds a <label>, text field, and a calendar icon (which can be used to launch the control), while the second holds the calendar control. When viewed in a browser, the page at this point should appear like this:

Implementing a Calendar Control in the Yahoo User Interface (YUI)

The calendar icon used in this example was taken, with gratitude from Mark Carson at

Beginning the Scripting

We want the calendar to appear when the icon next to the text field is clicked, rather than it being displayed on the page-load, so the first thing we need to do is to set a listener for the click event on the image.

Directly before closing </body> tag, add the following code:

<script type="text/javascript">
//create the namespace object for this example
//define the lauchCal function which creates the calendar
YAHOO.yuibook.calendar.launchCal = function() {
//create calendar on page load

Let’s look at each line of the above code. We first use the .namespace() method of the YAHOO utility to set up the namespace object used for this example. Next we define the anonymous launchCal function, which will hold all of the code that generates the calendar control.

Then we use the .onDOMReady() method of the Event utility to execute the launchCal function when the DOM is in an usable state. We’ll be looking at the DOM utility in much greater detail later in the book.

Now we can add the extremely brief code that’s required to actually produce the Calendar. Within the braces of our anonymous function, add the following code:

//create the calendar object, specifying the container
Var myCal = new YAHOO.widget.Calendar("mycal");
//draw the calendar on screen
//hide it again straight away

This is all that we need to create the Calendar; we simply define myCal as a new Calendar object, specifying the underlying container HTML element as an argument of the constructor.

Once we have a Calendar object, we can call the .render() method on it to create the calendar and display it on the page. No arguments are required for this method. Since we want the calendar to be displayed when its icon is clicked, we hide the calendar from view straight away.

To display the calendar when the icon for it is clicked, we’ll need one more anonymous function. Add the following code beneath the .hide() method:

//define the showCal function which shows the calendar
Var showCal = function() {
//show the calendar;

Now we can attach a listener which detects the click event on the calendar icon:

//attach listener for click event on calendar icon
YAHOO.util.Event.addListener("calico", "click", showCal);

Save the file that we’ve just created as calendar.html or similar in your yuisite directory. If you view it in your browser now and click the Calendar icon, you should see this:

Implementing a Calendar Control in the Yahoo User Interface (YUI)

The calendar is automatically configured to display the current date, although this is something that can be changed using the configuration object mentioned earlier.

If you use a DOM explorer to view the current DOM of a page with an open calendar on it, you’ll see that a basic Calendar control is rendered as a table with eight rows and seven columns.

The first row contains the images used to navigate between previous or forthcoming months and the title of the current month and year. The next row holds the two-letter representations of each of the different days of the week, and the rest of the rows hold the squares representing the individual days of the current month. The screenshot on the next page show some of the DOM representation of the Calendar control used in our example page:

Implementing a Calendar Control in the Yahoo User Interface (YUI)

Now that we can call up the Calendar control by clicking on our Calendar icon, we need to customize it slightly. Unless the person completing the form is very young, they will need to navigate through a large number of calendar pages in order to find their date of birth. This is where the Calendar Navigator interface comes into play.

We can easily enable this feature using a configuration object passed into the Calendar constructor. Alter your code so that it appears as follows:

//create the calendar object, using container & config object
myCal = new YAHOO.widget.Calendar("mycal", {navigator:true});

Clicking on the Month or Year label will now open an interface which allows your visitors to navigate directly to any given month and year:

Implementing a Calendar Control in the Yahoo User Interface (YUI)

The configuration object can be used to set a range of calendar configuration properties including the original month and year displayed by the Calendar, the minimum and maximum dates available to the calendar, a title for the calendar, a close button, and various other properties.


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