jQuery UI Tabs with Next/Previous

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Chris Coyier on (Updated on )

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Tabbed areas are lovely, but when you start getting to more than 3 or 4 different tabs, they start to get a little crowded and it makes sense to provide alternative navigation of them. I think it makes sense to supply universally located Next/Previous buttons, so without even moving your cursor you can click through each of them.

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jQuery UI makes creating tabbed areas very easy, so the framework is based on that. But we are on our own as far as Next/Previous buttons. Fortunately, jQuery UI tabs do have a function-thing that can be called to switch tabs. We can bind it to text links to accomplish switching tabs:

$('#my-text-link').click(function() { // bind click event to link
    $tabs.tabs('select', 2); // switch to third tab
    return false;

But we want to do this (hopefully) as smart-ly as we can. So we want to:

  • Add the links dynamically to each panel. If a panel is added or removed, the Next/Previous buttons automatically adjust to the new flow. Plus, links won’t be there awkwardly with JavaScript disabled
  • Make sure there is no “Previous” button on the first panel
  • Make sure there is no “Next” button on the last panel

This is how I did it:

$(function() {

	var $tabs = $('#tabs').tabs();
	  var totalSize = $(".ui-tabs-panel").size() - 1;
	  if (i != totalSize) {
	      next = i + 2;
   		  $(this).append("<a href='#' class='next-tab mover' rel='" + next + "'>Next Page &#187;</a>");
	  if (i != 0) {
	      prev = i;
   		  $(this).append("<a href='#' class='prev-tab mover' rel='" + prev + "'>&#171; Prev Page</a>");
	$('.next-tab, .prev-tab').click(function() { 
           $tabs.tabs('select', $(this).attr("rel"));
           return false;