Basic tools for an autocomplete or filtering selections with an input over AJAX.
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A small engine that returns results when you stop typing into an input field.

jQuery-LiveSearch attaches to an input:


Then when a user stops typing, it serializes the nearest parent form and submits it with ajax. When the results come back it fires a custom jquery event:

$elem.trigger('livesearch:results', [data]);

You can bind to that on the input, or any of it's parent elements (bubbling rules!), and then present it to your users in any way you wish.


  • delay: number of milliseconds to wait after a keystroke, before sending a request (default: 400)
  • minimum_characters: don't send a request until the user has typed in this number of characters (default: 3)
  • serialize: the form to serialize and submit (default: $(element).closest('form'))
  • client_side_cache: if set to true, when the user types in something they have already typed in before, jQuery-LiveSearch will use the last results it has obtained (default: true)
  • process_data: function to process form data, before making the AJAX call; should accept and return data as query string (default: false)
  • dataType: data type to pass to jQuery.ajax() call (default: 'json')

Bonus features

  • If the user starts typing before a request is complete, it cancels the original request and starts a new one.
  • If the user types in something they have already typed in before, it uses the last results it has obtained (client_side_cache: true).
  • If the user hits enter before they have 'stopped typing' it sends the request immediately (but you have to block the form from submitting yourself).

Some possible uses

  1. Autocomplete for search: you want to help your users out by making some guesses as to what they are typing.
  2. Selecting an item from a large set: you want to let your user search through a large set of items, and then pick one.
  3. Searching for a page to navigate to: you have a long list of pages that your user might want to visit, but you don't have space (and you're users don't have the patience) to output a long list of links.


I've started writing some example plugins, that sit on top of the livesearch plugin, the first of this is livesearch.input_dropdown. It takes a JSON array of strings, and creates a div with a class of 'results' with a ul of those strings. It lets you click on, or arrow through, those results, and populates the input with the value of the currently selected value. This is a very basic style for livesearch, and should get you started.