Building a multipage application

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Overview

This tutorial covers the following topics:

The basics of a multipage application

A MobileFirst hybrid application uses a single DOM model.
A single DOM model means that you must never navigate between various HTML files by using hyperlinks or changing the window.location property.

Instead, you must implement multipage interfaces by loading external HTML file content, and by using Ajax requests and injecting them into the existing DOM.
This is required because the main application HTML file loads the MobileFirst client-side JavaScript™ framework files, and when the browser navigates from one HTML file to another, the JavaScript context and loaded scripts are lost.

Most JavaScript UI frameworks that are available today (for example, jQuery Mobile and Dojo Mobile) provide extensive APIs to achieve the required multipage navigation.

In this tutorial, a multipage MobileFirst application implementation is explained by using built-in functionality only with jQuery.

Important: Do not use the built-in functionality that is described in this tutorial if you intend to use a JavaScript UI framework. Use the API of that framework instead.

Building applications with multiple pages

You can build multipage applications in two ways:

  • A single HTML file that contains all the application "pages"
  • A separate HTML file for each application "page"

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A single HTML file is the preferred model for simpler applications, where the developer is responsible for showing the “current” page DIV and hiding the rest.

However, larger applications present a challenge:

  • The developer must take full responsibility for which DIVs are shown and which DIVs are hidden at any moment.
  • If new content is needed in a page, for example a table, a prepared template cannot be loaded. Instead, it must be generated manually.
  • A single large HTML file with many pages takes longer to load.
  • It is easy to get lost in a single HTML file that contains multiple "pages". Separate files are easier to manage.

Building a rich dynamic application with multiple pages can be easier with dynamic page loading:

  • You can use built-in jQuery APIs to dynamically load, update, and insert DOM elements in your application.
  • You can insert HTML pages with CSS and JavaScript as necessary.
  • You can implement navigation history.
  • You can have JavaScript code executed when pages are loaded or unloaded.

Implementation notes

  • When you implement multipage navigation in the Windows Phone 8 environment, you must change the URL each time you use the jQuery load() API method. The example project for this training module demonstrates this task in detail.

    Add /www/default/ at the beginning of the URL path string. For example:
    Change

    $("#pagePort").load("pages/MainPage.html", function(){
        (currentPage.init);
    });

    To

    $("#pagePort").load("/www/default/pages/MainPage.html", function(){
        (currentPage.init);<br />
    });
  • When you implement multipage navigation for the Windows Phone 8 environment, and jQuery Mobile is used with the changePage() API method, a jQuery Mobile defect prevents it from properly working.
    To overcome the defect, consult the changes that need to be made in the .js file of jQuery Mobile, as described in the following Stack Overflow question: IBM Worklight v 5.0.6 - Can't navigate multipages on Windows Phone 7.5 environment

Loading an external HTML file

An external HTML file is a segment of HTML code that can be injected into any location in the existing DOM. A single HTML file can contain a hierarchy of multiple HTML elements.

  • You can include JavaScript code or files by using the script tag.
  • You can include CSS files by using the link tag.
  • You can inject the HTML file into the parent element, usually a DIV, but this is not mandatory.
  • You can use the jQuery $().load() API method to implement the above.

To load an HTML file, use the following syntax:

$(containerSelector).load(filePath, callbackFunction);

containerSelector – The jQuery CSS selector of element to host the loaded content.
filePath – The relative path to an HTML file. Always relative to the main HTML file.
callbackFunction - A JavaScript function to run when the loading completes.

Example

JavaScript

$("#pagePort").load(path + "pages/MainPage.html", function(){
    $.getScript(path + "js/MainPage.js", function() {
        if (currentPage.init) {
            currentPage.init();
        }
    });
});

HTML

<div id="pagePort"></div>

This code loads the MainPage.html file and inserts its content into the pagePort DIV element.
JavaScript (and CSS, if needed) references from the MainPage.html are loaded into the DOM.

Implementing page navigation with history

By using the previously described technique to load an external HTML file, you can implement a navigation interface with history.

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The navigation history must be preserved as a stack in a global array object.
A reference to the currently loaded page must be preserved, too, by using a global object variable.
A reference to the file path is needed for Windows Phone 8.

var pagesHistory = [];
var currentPage = {};
var path = "";

Implementing page navigation with history: Step 1

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  1. On application start, the MainPage.html file is loaded from the application code and injected into the #pagePort DIV.

    function wlCommonInit() {
        // Special case for Windows Phone 8 only.
        if (WL.Client.getEnvironment() == WL.Environment.WINDOWS_PHONE_8) {
            path = "/www/default/";
        }
        $("#pagePort").load(path + "pages/MainPage.html",function(){
           if (currentPage.init) {
               currentPage.init();
           }
        });
    }
  2. The MainPage.js file is loaded as a part of MainPage.html.

    currentPage = {};
    currentPage.init = function() {
        WL.Logger.debug("MainPage :: init");
    };
  3. The currentPage object is declared.
  4. The currentPage.init function is declared.
  5. When the MainPage.html file is loaded, the currentPage.init method is called.

Implementing page navigation with history: Step 2

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  1. MainPage.html is pushed into the pagesHistory stack.
  2. Page1.html is loaded and injected into #pagePort DIV. Page1.js is loaded as a part of Page1.html.
  3. The currentPage object is declared and overrides the old one.
  4. The currentPage.init function is declared.

    currentPage = {};
    currentPage.init = function(){
        WL.Logger.debug(page1 :: init");
    };
  5. When the loading of Page1.html completes, a new currentPage.init method is called.

Implementing page navigation with history: Step 3

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  1. The previous HTML file name is retrieved from the PagesHistory stack (MainPage.html).
  2. It is loaded and injected into #pagePort DIV.

    currentPage.back = function(){
        WL.Logger.debug("Page1 :: back")
        $("#pagePort").load(pagesHistory.pop(),
            function() {
                if (currentPage.init) {
                   currentPage.init();
                }
        });
    };
  3. MainPage.js is loaded as a part of MainPage.html.
  4. The currentPage object is declared and overrides the old one.
  5. The currentPage.init function is declared.

    currentPage = {};
    currentPage.init = function(){
        WL.Logger.debug("MainPage :: init");
    };
  6. When the MainPage.html file is loaded, the currentPage.init method is called.

Sample application

Click to download the MobileFirst project.

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Last modified on November 09, 2016