Introduction to shinyjqui

Yang Tang


The shinyjqui package provides APIs to jQuery UI JavaScript library that can be used to add mouse-interactions and animation effects to shiny ui. This vignette provides general introductions and examples of them.

Mouse interactions

There are five kinds of mouse interactions in jQuery UI library:

The corresponding R wrappers in shinyjqui are jqui_draggable(), jqui_droppable(), jqui_resizable(), jqui_selectable() and jqui_sortable(). They can be used to add interaction effects to ui element(s) in different context of a shiny app.

In shiny ui, the functions accept a shiny ui element (tag, tagList, input or output) and return the same one with interaction attached. For example:

# create a draggable textInput in shiny ui
ui <- fluidPage(
  jqui_draggable(textInput('foo', 'Input'))

In shiny server, the functions modify the interactivity of the existing (pre-defined in ui) elements:

# create a textInput in shiny ui
ui <- fluidPage(
  textInput('foo', 'Input')

# make the textInput with id "foo" draggable in shiny server
server <- function(input, output) {
  jqui_draggable(ui = '#foo')

The first way is straight forward, however, the second way is more flexible:

  1. You can reactively control the element’s interactivity by using them inside an observe() or ovservEvent().
  2. In the context of shiny server, the functions are more flexible in selecting the target shiny html element(s). Their first parameter ui accepts either a string of jQuery selector or a JS() wrapped JavaScript expression that returns a jQuery object. In the above example, which used the jQuery selector mode, the string #foo refers to the element with id foo. To select a set of elements, their class name can be used, e.g., use jqui_draggable(selector = ".shiny-bound-input") to make all the shiny inputs draggable. The JavaScript expression mode gives even more freedom to make your selection. You can write your own JavaScript expression that returns a jQuery object to refer to any element(s) you want, e.g., use jqui_resizable(selector = JS("$('#foo').parent()")) to make the parent of element with id foo resizable.
  3. In addition to enable the interactions, in the context of shiny server, the functions also support disable, destory, save and load the interactions. This behavior is controlled by the operation parameter with the default value enable. The difference between disable and destory is that the disable operation only disable the effect of interaction temporarily without removing the corresponding settings, whereas the destory operation removes the interaction totally. The save and load operations are used to save and restore the interaction state (e.g., the current position of a draggable element). Please see the vignette Save and restore for more details.

To make multiple elements interactive, you can either use the tagList() function in shiny ui:

# in shiny ui, make each element in the tagList draggable
ui <- fluidPage(
      selectInput('sel', 'Select', choices =,
      checkboxGroupInput('chbox', 'Checkbox', choices =,
      plotOutput('plot', width = '400px', height = '400px')

or use jQuery selector:

server <- function(input, output) {

The options parameter can be used to further specify the behavior of interaction. The full list of the available options can be found in jQuery UI’s API Documentation page. The example sections below showed how to use them.

In shiny, the user input values are send back to server in the form of input$<id>. Similarly, once enabled, some interaction-specific state values are returned to server and can be accessed by input$<id>_<suffix>, where the id is the element id (id attribute for shiny tag, inputId for shiny inputs, outputId for shiny outputs) and the suffix depends on the type of interaction enabled. The currently deployed interaction state values are listed here:

Interaction_type suffix The_returned_shiny_input_value
draggable position A list of the element’s left and top distances (in pixels) to its parent element
draggable is_dragging TRUE or FALSE that indicate whether the element is dragging
droppable dragging The id of an acceptable element that is now dragging
droppable over The id of the last acceptable element that is dragged over
droppable drop The id of the last acceptable element that is dropped
droppable dropped The ids of all acceptable elements that is currently dropped
droppable out The id of the last acceptable element that is dragged out
resizable size A list of the element’s current size
resizable is_resizing TRUE or FALSE that indicate whether the element is resizing
selectable selected A dataframe containing the id and innerText of curently selected items
selectable is_selecting TRUE or FALSE that indicate whether the element is selecting (e.g. during lasso selection)
sortable order A dataframe containing the id and innerText of items in the current order

You can even customize what value to be send back by including a shiny option in the options parameter. This option should be created in the following format. You may combine it with other interaction-specific options before passing to the options parameter:

shiny_opt = list(
  # define shiny input value input$id_suffix1
  suffix1 = list(
    # on event_type1 run callback1 and send the returned value to input$id_suffix1
    event_type1 = JS(callback1),
    # on event_type2 or event_type3 run callback2 and send the returned value to input$id_suffix1
    `event_type2 event_type3` = JS(callback2),
  # define another shiny input value input$id_suffix2
  suffix2 = list(
  # define more shiny input values

# pass the shiny option to draggable
jqui_draggable('#foo', options = list(
  shiny = shiny_opt, 
  #other draggable-specific options

The shiny option list is composed by multiple suffix definition units. The unit name is used as suffix in input$<id>_<suffix>. Within each unit, there are multiple JS() wrapped JavaScript callback functions named with corresponding event types. The event triggers the callback and the returned value is send to server in the form of input$<id>_<suffix>. The valid event types for each interactions can be found in the API Documentation of jQuery UI. The callback functions take two parameters, event and ui. The definition of the ui parameter can also be found in the document too. Here is an example:

# server
jqui_draggable('#foo', options = list(
  shiny = list(
    # By default, draggable element has a shiny input value showing the
    # element's position (relative to the parent element). Here, another shiny
    # input value (input$foo_offset) is added. It gives the element's offset
    # (position relative to the document).
    offset = list(
      # return the updated offset value when the draggable is created or dragging
      `dragcreate drag` = JS('function(event, ui) {return $(;}'),

When customizing shiny input values by shiny option and callbacks, you may want to get the id of certain element in JavaScript. For simple shiny tag (e.g. tags$div), element.attr("id") just works fine, however, things become more complicated for shiny inputs (e.g. textInput). The id attribute of most shiny inputs is hidden inside a div container. You may use jQuery function .find() to locate it. The shinyjqui package comes with an internal JavaScript function shinyjqui.getId() which will take care of this. You can just simply pass in any shiny element, either simple tag, shiny input or shiny output. It will use the appropriate way to find out the id.

The following are some examples to demonstrate how to use each interactions


Draggable element can be moved by mouse. You can custom its movement by some options:


With the droppable interaction enabled, the element can sense the behavior of accepted draggable elements and make changes (e.g. change display style) accordingly:

Note: When passing a JavaScript callback function to the opations parameter, please wrap it with JS() so that it can be evaluated correctly.


You can change the size of a resizable element by dragging the resize-handles around it. Several examples are listed here:


The selectable interaction make target element’s children selectable. You can select by click, Ctrl+click or dragging a box (lasso selection). The selected elements may change display styles if specified in options:


The sortable interaction makes target element’s children sortable. You can re-arrange them by drag and drop. Some examples here:

shinyjqui has a function called orderInput() which takes advantage of sortable interaction. You can use it to display a list of items in shiny and can change their order by drag and drop. The changed items order is send back to server as an input value. Please see the Vignette orderInput for details.

Animation effects

jQuery UI library comes with 15 internal animation effects. You can get a full list of them by R function get_jqui_effects():

##  [1] "blind"     "bounce"    "clip"      "drop"      "explode"   "fade"     
##  [7] "fold"      "highlight" "puff"      "pulsate"   "scale"     "shake"    
## [13] "size"      "slide"     "transfer"

There is a live demo for each effect here. By use following functions, you can apply these effects to a shiny element:

Functions Description Where_to_use
jqui_effect Let element(s) to show an animation immediately. server
jqui_show Display hidden element(s) with an animation server
jqui_hide Hide element(s) with an animation server
jqui_toggle Display or hide element(s) with an animation server

The above functions use jQuery selector to locate the target element(s) and should be used in server.

The effect parameter accept a string that defines which animation effect to apply. Note: The transfer effect can only be used in jqui_effect().

The options parameter accept a list of effect specific options. Please find more details here.

The complete parameter accept a JavaScript callback function which will be called after the animation. Please wrap it with JS().

Here are some examples:

# ui
plotOutput('foo', width = '400px', height = '400px')

# server
jqui_effect('#foo', effect = 'bounce') # bounces the plot
jqui_effect('#foo', effect = 'scale', options = list(percent = 50)) # scale to 50%
jqui_hide('#foo', effect = 'size', options = list(width = 200, height = 60)) # resize then hide
jqui_show('#foo', effect = 'clip') # show the plot by clipping

Classes animation

These functions can be used to change shiny element’s class(es) while animating all style changes:

Functions Description Where_to_use
jqui_add_class Add class(es) to element(s) while animating all style changes. server
jqui_remove_class Remove class(es) from element(s) while animating all style changes. server
jqui_switch_class Add and remove class(es) to element(s) while animating all style changes. server

Similar to the animation effects functions, these functions need a jQuery selector and please use them in server.

The easing parameter defines the speed style of the animation progresses. More details can be found here