The general idea of the code is that I have a + or - icon (".trigger") that is click-able and will expand or collapse the content (".cont") directly following it (there are many of there expand/collapse pairs). I also have a span("#expandAll") that, when clicked, will expand or collapse every block.

Please review my first usage of jQuery and help me put my head into a more jQuery state. Where can the code be improved? Are there any problems with it? Is there a better way to do it?

(To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what the $() function really does.)

var expandAll = function () {
    $("#expandAll").html("Colapse All");
    $("#expandAll").unbind("click", expandAll);
var colapseAll = function () {
    $("#expandAll").html("Expand All");
    $("#expandAll").unbind("click", colapseAll);
$(document).ready(function () {
    $(".trigger").click(function (event) {
        $this = $(this);
        $this.html($this.text() == '+' ? '-' : '+');

Please let me know if you need more/less info.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jonathan, ha, nothing really. It just seems that everyone these days starts 'programming' with html, css, and JQuery. \$\endgroup\$
    – jjnguy
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 13:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @zzz Yeah, I know, thanks. I have fixed it in my code. \$\endgroup\$
    – jjnguy
    Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ You should run your first jQuery in the Firebug Console. \$\endgroup\$
    – powtac
    Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 21:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ "To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what the $() function really does." Don't worry, nobody knows everything it does. I've heard it can create world peace. Hey, John Resig wrote it, right? \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter C
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 1:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @alpha, haha that's good to know. \$\endgroup\$
    – jjnguy
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 2:04

2 Answers 2


I've refactored your code and added comments to explain certain things.

// We can shorten this from document.ready(...) to $(...) 
// Internally, jQuery will add the passed in function to a list
// of handlers that will be invoked when the document is ready.
$(function() {
    // Since the $ function will query the document with the 
    // specified selector we want to cache these.
    // Doing this from within the ready callback allows us 
    // to keep these references hidden.
    // I've also added the 2 function variables to keep them
    // hidden as well.
    var expandAll, colapseAll,
        expandAllElement = $("#expandAll"),
        contElements = $(".cont"),
        triggerElements = $(".trigger");

    expandAll = function() {
        // Notice how we can chain these calls together?
        // jQuery was designed with a fluent interface.
        expandAllElement.html("Colapse All").one("click", colapseAll);

    colapseAll = function() {
        expandAllElement.html("Expand All").one("click", expandAll);

    triggerElements.click(function(event) {
        // Always define a variable so the 'name' 
        // is not defined in the global object,
        var $this = $(this);
        $this.html($this.text() == '+' ? '-' : '+');

    // Using the one function allows you to skip 
    // unbinding the event handler for each click.
    expandAllElement.one("click", expandAll);
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why do you declare expandAll and colapseAll outside of the doc.ready() function? \$\endgroup\$
    – jjnguy
    Commented Feb 17, 2011 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Justin - You know I wasn't sure if you were manually calling those functions from other places. If your not using the functions anywhere else then that is definitely a good idea. See my latest changes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 17, 2011 at 22:37
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Hm there's no need for making expandAll and colapseAll expressions, declarations would do just fine here. Also both functions are extremely similar in their workings, refactoring the code out into a more generic helper would be a good idea here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ivo Wetzel
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ OCD alert: collapse has two Ls (yes, I know the OP has the same typo). \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Ball
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 17:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Matt, yeah I didn't notice that spelling fail until after I posted the code. Didn't feel like fixing it. \$\endgroup\$
    – jjnguy
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 18:34
// If you use selectors multiple times, always cache them into variables, else jQuery has to search for them multiple times.
var $cont      = $('.cont'),
    $expandAll = $('#expandAll'),
    $trigger   = $('.trigger');

function expandAll() {
    // Use .text() instead of .html().
    // You can chain these calls together.
    // If you use .one(), you don't have to unbind the previous event handler next time, jQuery does it for you.
    $expandAll.text('Collapse All').one('click', collapseAll);
function collapseAll() {
    $expandAll.text('Expand All').one('click', expandAll);

// You can pass a function to jQuery itself – it's a shorthand for $(document).ready().
$(function() {
    // There's no need to pass the event argument, because
    // 1. You didn't use it there
    // 2. jQuery “normalizes” the event object, so you don't have to pass it as an argument. If you want a shorthand for it, do it inside the function:
    // var e = event;
    $trigger.click(function() {
        // Always use var to declare variables, to prevent polluting the global scope.
        var $this = $(this);
        // Again: use .text() instead of .html().
        $this.text($this.text() == '+' ? '-' : '+');
        // There's no need to do this:
        // $($this.nextAll(".cont").get(0)).toggleClass("hid");
        // You can simply do this:
    $expandAll.one('click', expandAll);
  • \$\begingroup\$ One question, why do you use html and text in different scenarios? \$\endgroup\$
    – jjnguy
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 17:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ $this.nextAll('.cont:first').toggleClass('hid'); was what worked. \$\endgroup\$
    – jjnguy
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 17:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Justin 1. It was a mistake. Fixed. 2. I don't get what are you trying to say… \$\endgroup\$
    – user688
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ the way my dom was nextAll('.cont') didn't work. I needed to add the :first. Not really important info for you. \$\endgroup\$
    – jjnguy
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 18:25

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