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imgAreaSelect Documentation

Last revised: Jun 14, 2011

  1. Introduction
  2. Basic Usage
  3. Options
  4. Style Sheets
  5. Elements and Classes
  6. Callback Functions
  7. Keyboard Support
  8. API Methods


ImgAreaSelect is a jQuery plugin that lets the user select a rectangular area of an image using a simple and intuitive click-and-drag interface. The plugin can be used in web applications to easily implement image cropping functionality, as well as other features, like photo tagging, image editing functions, etc.

Basic Usage

The plugin is invoked by calling the imgAreaSelect() method on a jQuery object that represents an <img> element:

<script type="text/javascript">
$(document).ready(function () {
        handles: true,
        onSelectEnd: someFunction

If there is more than one element in the jQuery object, the plugin will be enabled for all elements in the set. This applies to non-image elements as well, as imgAreaSelect can actually be used with any block element (e.g., a <div> with a background image).

You can initialize the plugin either in the $(document).ready() or $(window).load() event handler.


The plugin is highly configurable through the use of options which are passed to the imgAreaSelect method when the plugin is initialized. The available options are:

Option Description
aspectRatio A string of the form "width:height" which represents the aspect ratio to maintain
example: "4:3"
autoHide If set to true, selection area will disappear when selection ends
default: false
classPrefix A string that is prepended to class names assigned to plugin elements (see below for details)
default: "imgareaselect"
disable If set to true, the plugin is disabled (the selection area remains visible, unless hide is also present)
enable If set to true, the plugin is re-enabled
fadeDuration If set to a number greater than zero, showing or hiding the plugin is done with a graceful fade in/fade out animation
default: false
handles If set to true, resize handles are shown on the selection area; if set to "corners", only corner handles are shown
default: false
hide If set to true, selection area is hidden
imageHeight True height of the image (if scaled with the CSS width and height properties)
imageWidth True width of the image (if scaled with the CSS width and height properties)
instance If set to true, the imgAreaSelect() call returns a reference to an instance of imgAreaSelect bound to the image, allowing you to use its API methods (see below)
keys Enables/disables keyboard support (see below for details)
default: false
maxHeight Maximum selection height (in pixels)
maxWidth Maximum selection width (in pixels)
minHeight Minimum selection height (in pixels)
minWidth Minimum selection width (in pixels)
movable Determines whether the selection area should be movable
default: true
parent A jQuery object or selector string that specifies the parent element that the plugin will be appended to
default: "body"
persistent If set to true, clicking outside the selection area will not start a new selection (ie. the user will only be able to move/resize the existing selection area)
default: false
remove If set to true, the plugin is completely removed
resizable Determines whether the selection area should be resizable
default: true
resizeMargin Width (in pixels) of the selection area margin where resize mode is triggered
show If set to true, selection area is shown
Coordinates of the top left corner of the initial selection area
Coordinates of the bottom right corner of the initial selection area
zIndex The z-index value to be assigned to plugin elements; normally, imgAreaSelect figures it out automatically, but there are a few cases when it's necessary to set it explicitly
onInit Callback function called when the plugin is initialized (see below)
onSelectStart Callback function called when selection starts (see below)
onSelectChange Callback function called when selection changes (see below)
onSelectEnd Callback function called when selection ends (see below)

Styling Options (Deprecated)

Prior to imgAreaSelect version 0.9, the default method of changing the plugin's appearance was with the use of "styling" options, which are listed below. These options are now deprecated in favor of style sheets, but they are still supported (mainly for backwards compatibility). If you intend to use these options with a recent version of the plugin, you need to include the imgareaselect-deprecated.css style sheet in your page.

Option Description
selection border colors
borderOpacity selection border opacity
borderWidth selection border width (in pixels)
outerColor outer (unselected) area color
outerOpacity outer area opacity
selectionColor selection area color
selectionOpacity selection area opacity

Please note that these options might be removed in a future version of the plugin, so it's strongly recommended to use style sheets instead.

Style Sheets

Three style sheets are distributed with the plugin:

You only need to include one of these in your page header. There are also four GIF files in the css folder of the distribution package (border-h.gif, border-v.gif, border-anim-h.gif, and border-anim-v.gif). These files are used to render the selection area border, and should be placed in the same directory as the style sheet.

Elements and Classes

The plugin creates several div elements that represent the selection area, the borders, the resize handles, and the outer (unselected) area. These elements are assigned specific class names, so you can access them easily with CSS or jQuery selectors.

Class Name Assigned to
imgareaselect-selection the selection area
the selection border, composed of four divs placed on top of each other
imgareaselect-handle the resize handles (four or eight divs, or none if handles are not enabled)
imgareaselect-outer the outer area, composed of four divs

This picture should give you a basic idea of how the plugin elements are positioned:

The default "imgareaselect" class name prefix can be changed to something else using the classPrefix option. This might be useful when there are multiple instances of imgAreaSelect on one page and you want to apply different CSS styles to each of them.

Callback Functions

The callback functions (set with the onInit, onSelectStart, onSelectChange, and onSelectEnd options) are passed two arguments. First argument is a reference to the image that the plugin is attached to, the second is an object representing the current selection. The object has six properties:

Property Description
coordinates of the top left corner of the selected area
coordinates of the bottom right corner of the selected area
width selection width
height selection height

Here's an example of a callback function that will be executed on selection end:

    onSelectEnd: function (img, selection) {
        alert('width: ' + selection.width + '; height: ' + selection.height);

Keyboard Support

When the keys option is set to true, the selection area can be moved/resized using the keyboard. By default, the following keys are used:

Key Action
arrow keys move selection area by 10 pixels
Shift + arrow keys move selection area by 1 pixel
Ctrl + arrow keys resize selection area by 10 pixels
Shift + Ctrl + arrow keys resize selection area by 1 pixel

You can override these key bindings by setting the keys option to an object that defines the desired key settings. The object may have the following properties:

Property Description
arrows defines the behavior of the arrow keys
shift defines the behavior of the Shift key
ctrl defines the behavior of the Ctrl key
alt defines the behavior of the Alt key

Each of these properties can be set to the number of pixels (≥1) by which the selection area should be moved/resized when the specific key is pressed, or the string "resize", which indicates that the key should switch to resize mode. Example:

    keys: { arrows: 15, ctrl: 5, shift: 'resize' }

With these settings, pressing the arrow keys alone will move the selection area by 15 pixels, holding Ctrl will move the area by 5 pixels, and holding Shift will switch to resizing.

If there is more than one instance of imgAreaSelect on the page initialized with the keys option, only one of them can be controlled with the keyboard at any moment. By default, any user action (selection area resize/move) or reinvocation of the imgAreaSelect() method on a plugin instance makes it the keyboard-controlled one.

API Methods

Several API methods are provided to make it easier to extend the plugin and to integrate it with other web application components.

In order to use these methods, you need an instance of the plugin's object. To get one, call the imgAreaSelect() method with the instance option set to true:

var ias = $('#photo').imgAreaSelect({ instance: true });

Now, you can use this object to call the public methods. For example, to set a predefined selection area:

ias.setSelection(50, 50, 150, 200, true);
ias.setOptions({ show: true });

Note that you should only use the instance after the plugin has been fully initialized, i.e. in the onInit callback function, or anytime after onInit has been triggered.

The following methods are available:

Method Description
getOptions getOptions()

Get current options

An object containing the set of options currently in use

setOptions setOptions(newOptions)

Set plugin options

newOptions – The new options object

getSelection getSelection([noScale])

Get the current selection

noScale (optional) – If set to true, scaling is not applied to the returned selection

Selection object

setSelection setSelection(x1, y1, x2, y2, [noScale])

Set the current selection

x1 – X coordinate of the top left corner of the selection area
y1 – Y coordinate of the top left corner of the selection area
x2 – X coordinate of the bottom right corner of the selection area
y2 – Y coordinate of the bottom right corner of the selection area
noScale (optional) – If set to true, scaling is not applied to the new selection

Note: This method only sets the internal representation of selection in the plugin instance, it does not update the visual interface. If you want the new selection to be shown, call update() right after setSelection(). Also make sure that the show option is set to true.

cancelSelection cancelSelection()

Cancel the current selection

Note: This method hides the selection/outer area, so no call to update() is necessary (as opposed to setSelection()).

update update([resetKeyPress])

Update plugin elements

resetKeyPress (optional) – If set to false, this instance's keypress event handler is not activated