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aboutWhen is a jQuery plugin for accepting partial or approximate dates.


Calendar controls and their variants are great if you want your users to pick one valid date precisely, but in the case where a user may have incomplete information that you want to capture (for example, "I think it was in May of 1985" or "on a Saturday last month"), you need a control that can accept partial information.

The aboutWhen control creates a separate HTML select element for year, month, day, and day of the week, and balances input between them to try to ensure that the resulting information is consistent. For example:

The first time I ever saw a sparrow:


  1. Include jquery-aboutWhen.min.css in the <head> element of your HTML page:

     <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="./css/jquery-aboutWhen.css" />

    Or, since this CSS only styles 3 classes and you may want to adjust it for your site, you can open jquery-aboutWhen.css and incorporate its content into one of your own CSS files.

  2. Then, in the <body> of your HTML page, wherever you want an aboutWhen control, place an empty <div> element with its own id, a class of hsh-when, and optionally its own label. For example::

     <label for="ggmBd">Great-great-grandmother's birthday:</label>
     <div class="hsh-when" id="ggmBd"></div>
  3. At the end of the HTML body, include the jquery-aboutWhen.min.js Javascript file:

     <script type="text/javascript" src="./js/jquery-aboutWhen.min.js"></script>
  4. Finally, apply aboutWhen to everything of class hsh-when:

     <script type="text/javascript">$(".hsh-when").aboutWhen( );</script>

The result is a set of 4 <select> elements in your page:

Great-great-grandmother's birthday:

These elements have name and id attributes created from the id of the parent div as follows:

year:    [parent div's id]_y
month:   [parent div's id]_m
day:     [parent div's id]_d
weekday: [parent div's id]_w

Similarly, the corresponding label elements have the following id attributes:

year:    [parent div's id]_yL
month:   [parent div's id]_mL
day:     [parent div's id]_dL
weekday: [parent div's id]_wL


You can also call aboutWhen with a settings or options parameter (I prefer "settings" here so as not to confuse them with select element options). Below are the possible fields in a settings parameter, containing the values that aboutWhen uses by default:

  maxY : undefined,   /* If maxY is undefined, the current year is used. */ 
  minY : 1900,
  widths: [ "80px", "120px", "70px", "125px" ],
  text : {
    Nm: [ "(year)", "(month)", "(day)", "(weekday)" ],
    Mo: [ "January", "February", "March",
          "April", "May", "June",
          "July", "August", "September",
          "October", "November", "December" ],
    Wd: [ "Sunday", "Monday", "Tuesday", "Wednesday",
           "Thursday", "Friday", "Saturday" ],
    ns: "(not sure)"

Each of the 4 top-level settings fields is optional, but any one you include MUST be complete. For example, if you pass in a settings parameter containing a text field, the text field MUST contain a Nm array of 4 label names, a Mo array of 12 month names, a Wd array of 7 weekday names, and an ns string for the "not sure" option.


I suspect there may be better ways to accomplish a lot of what I'm doing here, and I'd much appreciate any help, corrections or suggestions!

Since aboutWhen is a pretty simple plugin, I've tried to keep it light-weight. For the future, though, I'm wondering about doing an alternate version that uses Chosen to make things prettier. Thoughts?

<script type="text/javascript" src="./js/jquery-1.10.1.min.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript" src="./js/jquery-aboutWhen.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript" src="./js/jquery-noInput.js"></script> <script> $(".hsh-when").aboutWhen( ); </script>


A jQuery plugin for accepting approximate or partial dates.






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