Lesson 15 - Bootstrap - Navigation

HTML and CSS Bootstrap Bootstrap - Navigation

In the previous lesson, Bootstrap - Dropdowns, we discussed dropdown buttons. In today's tutorial, we're going to dive into the depths of the Bootstrap CSS framework and describe how to style the navigation.

Navigation

Whenever we need a navigation in our web presentation, we don't have to search for too long. Bootstrap has already prepared for us both the navigation and the mobile version of it with a sliding menu. In today's lesson, we're going to discuss the navigation itself for which we are provided with the .nav class.

Example

As first, let's have a look at what does the component look like. We'll use list items to represent the navigation items.

<ul class="nav">
        <li class="nav-item">
                <a class="nav-link" href="#">About the company</a>
        </li>
        <li class="nav-item">
                <a class="nav-link" href="#">Products</a>
        </li>
        <li class="nav-item">
                <a class="nav-link disabled" href="#">Pricing</a>
        </li>
        <li class="nav-item">
                <a class="nav-link" href="#">Contact</a>
        </li>
</ul>

The result in the browser:

Navigation in Bootstrap
navigation.html

We assign the .nav-link class to the navigation items. The navigation does not support the .active class in any way but we can use .disabled to disable some of the items.

The <nav> element and alignment

Next to lists, we can use simple links without any other elements as well, wrapped inside the <nav> element with the .nav class again. Let's have a look at how to align the navigation items horizontally. Because the whole navigation is built on flexbox, we're going to use the familiar flexbox utilities, specifically the .justify-content-center class to center it.

The HTML code:

<nav class="nav justify-content-center">
        <a class="nav-link" href="#">About the company</a>
        <a class="nav-link" href="#">Products</a>
        <a class="nav-link disabled" href="#">Pricing</a>
        <a class="nav-link" href="#">Contact</a>
</nav>

And the result:

Navigation in Bootstrap
navigation_lin­ks.html

To align the items to the right we'd use the .justify-content-end class.

Vertical navigation

If we wanted to style the navigation as vertical, we can use the .flex-column class. The vertical navigation usually succeeds on smaller screens; we would simply style the navigation as horizontal on desktops and vertical on mobile phones. We'd use e.g. the .flex-sm-row class for this purpose.

<ul class="nav flex-column">
        <li class="nav-item">
                <a class="nav-link" href="#">About the company</a>
        </li>
        <li class="nav-item">
                <a class="nav-link" href="#">Products</a>
        </li>
        <li class="nav-item">
                <a class="nav-link disabled" href="#">Pricing</a>
        </li>
        <li class="nav-item">
                <a class="nav-link" href="#">Contact</a>
        </li>
</ul>

The result:

Navigation in Bootstrap
navigation_ver­tical.html

We'd achieve the opposite behavior using the .flex-sm-column class, making the navigation vertical on desktops and horizontal on mobile phones. Next, we could use responsive classes like .text-sm-center which we'd assign to the items, centering them on desktops and leaving them aligned left, as a vertical list, on mobile phones where the navigation is vertical.

Tabs

We can easily style the navigation as tabs by assigning the .nav-tabs class. In this case the .active class is also supported. To keep the full functionality the Bootstrap's JavaScript plugin needs to be linked.

Navigation in Bootstrap
navigation_tab­s.html

Notice that a dropdown button is used in one of the tabs as well.

Pills

Similarly, we can make "pills" out of the links by assigning the .nav-pills class. We can have a look on the usage of other class, .nav-fill, which stretches the navigation content to fill the whole width. Similarly, there's also the nav-justified class which should stretch the navigation content while setting the same size to each item. However, I wasn't able to make this class work, it's probably a Bootstrap bug.

If we used the <nav> element and the <a> links to define the navigation, the shortened version without a list, we'd also assign the .nav-item class to each link. Let's have a look at this example:

Navigation in Bootstrap
navigation_pi­lls.html

If we also wanted to add a Dropdown, we'd proceed similarly as with tabs and used a list to define the navigation.

Navigation in Bootstrap
navigation_pi­lls_dropdown.html

Semantics

Ideally, we should also assign the role="navigation" attribute for screen readers to the navigation made by the <ul> list or wrap the navigation into the the <nav> semantic element. We do NOT write values such as tablist, tab or tabpanel in the role attribute, even when we're actually using tabs in the navigation, because these roles are meant for dynamic content which the tabs switch between. We shouldn't combine dynamic tabs with Dropdowns because it can be confusing that the "activating" button isn't visible right away but it'll be hidden together with the tab. Above that, there's currently no way to tell screen readers using ARIA attributes how to control such a component system.

Dynamic tabs

Since we've already mentioned dynamic tabs a few times before, let's have a look at how to bind them to the navigation. Don't forget to link the JavaScript.

<ul class="nav nav-tabs" id="navigation" role="tablist">
        <li class="nav-item">
                <a class="nav-link active" id="about-company-tab" data-toggle="tab" href="#about-company" role="tab" aria-controls="about-company" aria-selected="true">About the company</a>
        </li>
        <li class="nav-item">
                <a class="nav-link" id="products-tab" data-toggle="tab" href="#products" role="tab" aria-controls="products" aria-selected="false">Products</a>
        </li>
        <li class="nav-item">
                <a class="nav-link" id="contact-tab" data-toggle="tab" href="#contact" role="tab" aria-controls="contact" aria-selected="false">Contact</a>
        </li>
</ul>
<div class="tab-content" id="navigation-content">
        <div class="tab-pane fade show active" id="about-company" role="tabpanel" aria-labelledby="about-company-tab">The About the company tab contents...</div>
        <div class="tab-pane fade" id="products" role="tabpanel" aria-labelledby="products-tab">The Products tab contents...</div>
        <div class="tab-pane fade" id="contact" role="tabpanel" aria-labelledby="contact-tab">The Contact tab contents...</div>
</div>

The result:

Navigation in Bootstrap
navigation_dy­namic_tabs.html

Notice the usage of the classes .fade and .show to show an animation. A simplified version with the <nav> element follows:

Navigation in Bootstrap
navigation_dy­namic_tabs.html

We can also create a navigation with dynamic tabs using pills, we just assign the .nav-pills class instead of the .nav-tabs class. Ideally, we should also change the data-toggle data attribute value from tab to pill. We can even place the tabs vertically, let's have a look:

Navigation in Bootstrap
navigation_dy­namic_tabs_pi­lls.html

A responsive grid which we're going to explain in depth further in the course, is used in the example.

JavaScript

Like most of the components, we can change the behavior of the navigation via JavaScript as well. As always, we can change the behavior either by data attributes or by accessing the properties from JavaScript. The properties in JavaScript are named the same as thr data attributes (without the data- prefix). It's the data-toggle data attribute with the value of tab or pill.

Without data attributes, we'd initialize tabs in JavaScript like this:

$('#tabs a').on('click', function (e) {
        e.preventDefault();
        $(this).tab('show');
});

Methods

We can pass 2 string values as the parameter of the tab() method:

  • "show" - Shows the tab
  • "dispose" - Removes the tabnavigation bar.

We use a regular jQuery selector to active a particular tab:

$('#tabs a[href="#products"]').tab('show') // Opens a tab by name
$('#tabs a:first').tab('show') // Opens the first tab
$('#tabs a:last').tab('show') // Opens the last tab
$('#tabs li:eq(3) a').tab('show') // Opens the forth tab (the indexes are zero-based)

The methods are asynchronous and pass the control flow before the tab is actually switched! The reason is the animation in progress. If the animation (transition) is ongoing, all method calls will be ignored.

Events

We can handle the following events in JavaScript:

  • hide.bs.tab - Is called on the currently active tab, right when a new tab is about to show.
  • show.bs.tab - Is called on the tab which is about to show but before it's actually shown.
  • hidden.bs.tab - Is called on the tab which was active previously, after being switched.
  • shown.bs.tab - Is called on the tab which has just been shown.

Handling an event could look like this:

$('a[data-toggle="tab"]').on('shown.bs.tab', function (e) {
        e.target // in this property we can find the current tab
        e.relatedTarget // in this property we can find the tab that was previously active
})

In the next lesson, Bootstrap - Navigation bar, we'll have a look at how to use the knowledge from today when creating a responsive


 

 

Article has been written for you by David Capka
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The author is a programmer, who likes web technologies and being the lead/chief article writer at ICT.social. He shares his knowledge with the community and is always looking to improve. He believes that anyone can do what they set their mind to.
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