A jQuery plugin that extends Sortable UI functionalities to nested lists.
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nestedSortable jQuery plugin

nestedSortable is a jQuery plugin that extends jQuery Sortable UI functionalities to nested lists.


  • Designed to work seamlessly with the nested set model (have a look at the toArray method)
  • Items can be sorted in their own list, moved across the tree, or nested under other items.
  • Sublists are created and deleted on the fly
  • All jQuery Sortable options, events and methods are available
  • It is possible to define elements that will not accept a new nested item/list
  • It is possible to define a maximum depth for nested items


<ol class="sortable">
	<li><div>Some content</div></li>
		<div>Some content</div>
			<li><div>Some sub-item content</div></li>
			<li><div>Some sub-item content</div></li>
	<li><div>Some content</div></li>

Please note: every <li> must have either one or two direct children, the first one being a container element (such as <div> in the above example), and the (optional) second one being the nested list. The container element has to be set as the 'toleranceElement' in the options, and this, or one of its children, as the 'handle'.

Custom Options

How far right or left (in pixels) the item has to travel in order to be nested or to be sent outside its current list. Default: 20
The class name of the items that will not accept nested lists. Default: ui-nestedSortable-no-nesting
The class given to the placeholder in case of error. Default: ui-nestedSortable-error
The list type used (ordered or unordered). Default: ol
The maximum depth of nested items the list can accept. If set to '0' the levels are unlimited. Default: 0

Custom Methods

Serializes the nested list into a string like setName[item1Id]=parentId&setName[item2Id]=parentId, reading from each item's id formatted as 'setName_itemId' (where itemId is a number). It accepts the same options as the original Sortable method (key, attribute and expression).
Builds an array where each element is in the form:
setName[n] =>
	'item_id': itemId,
	'parent_id': parentId,
	'depth': depth,
	'left': left,
	'right': right,
It accepts the same options as the original Sortable method (attribute and expression) plus the custom startDepthCount, that sets the starting depth number (default is 0).
Builds a hierarchical object in the form:
'0' ...
	'id' => itemId
'1' ...
	'id' => itemId
	'children' ...
		'0' ...
			'id' => itemId
		'1' ...
			'id' => itemId
'2' ...
	'id' => itemId
Similarly to toArray, it accepts attribute and expression options.

Known Bugs

nestedSortable doesn't work properly with connected draggables, because of the way Draggable simulates Sortable mouseStart and mouseStop events. This bug might or might not be fixed some time in the future (it's not specific to this plugin).


jQuery 1.4+
jQuery UI Sortable 1.8+

Browser Compatibility

Tested with: IE 6/7/8, Firefox 3.6/4, Chrome, Safari 3


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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