Creating a Rotating Billboard System with jQuery and CSS

Currently we are in the “hey, let’s do that flash thing in jQuery”-mood and so we came up with another idea: a rotating billboard system. In this tutorial we will use some images, CSS and jQuery to create the effect of a rotating billboard with two ads. The idea is to make one set of […]

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Currently we are in the “hey, let’s do that flash thing in jQuery”-mood and so we came up with another idea: a rotating billboard system.

In this tutorial we will use some images, CSS and jQuery to create the effect of a rotating billboard with two ads. The idea is to make one set of image slices disappear while another one (the other ad) appear. We will decrease the width of each disappearing slice and increase the width of each appearing slice. This will give the effect of rotating slices, just like in a rotating billboard system.

Ok, let’s start coding!

1. The HTML

We will have quite a lot of markup for the image slices – it will be 22 slices for each ad:

<div class="container">
	<div class="ad">
		<div id="ad_1" class="ad_1">
			<img class="slice_1" src="ads/ad1_slice01.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_2" src="ads/ad1_slice02.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_3" src="ads/ad1_slice03.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_4" src="ads/ad1_slice04.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_5" src="ads/ad1_slice05.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_6" src="ads/ad1_slice06.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_7" src="ads/ad1_slice07.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_8" src="ads/ad1_slice08.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_9" src="ads/ad1_slice09.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_10" src="ads/ad1_slice10.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_11" src="ads/ad1_slice11.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_12" src="ads/ad1_slice12.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_13" src="ads/ad1_slice13.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_14" src="ads/ad1_slice14.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_15" src="ads/ad1_slice15.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_16" src="ads/ad1_slice16.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_17" src="ads/ad1_slice17.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_18" src="ads/ad1_slice18.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_19" src="ads/ad1_slice19.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_20" src="ads/ad1_slice20.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_21" src="ads/ad1_slice21.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_22" src="ads/ad1_slice22.jpg"/>
		<div id="ad_2" class="ad_2">
			<img class="slice_1" src="ads/ad2_slice01.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_2" src="ads/ad2_slice02.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_3" src="ads/ad2_slice03.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_4" src="ads/ad2_slice04.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_5" src="ads/ad2_slice05.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_6" src="ads/ad2_slice06.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_7" src="ads/ad2_slice07.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_8" src="ads/ad2_slice08.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_9" src="ads/ad2_slice09.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_10" src="ads/ad2_slice10.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_11" src="ads/ad2_slice11.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_12" src="ads/ad2_slice12.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_13" src="ads/ad2_slice13.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_14" src="ads/ad2_slice14.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_15" src="ads/ad2_slice15.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_16" src="ads/ad2_slice16.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_17" src="ads/ad2_slice17.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_18" src="ads/ad2_slice18.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_19" src="ads/ad2_slice19.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_20" src="ads/ad2_slice20.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_21" src="ads/ad2_slice21.jpg"/>
			<img class="slice_22" src="ads/ad2_slice22.jpg"/>

<div class="billboard"></div>

For these images, 22 slices (each slice 35 pixels wide) of a 770 pixel wide and 340 pixel high image were made. One might think that this is a lot of work and that we could actually take one whole picture and create divs acting like the slices with that background image and the right background position. But then we would not be able to create the same effect of a rotating slice (at least not with the JavaScript we created for this showcase).

The billboard will be an absolute positioned div with the billboard image. Since the image has some transparent spotlights, we want to lay it over the ad container.

2. The CSS

The style for the billboard frame will be the following:

    background:transparent url(../images/billboard.png) no-repeat 0px 0px;

To position the element in the center of the page, we set the left value to 50% and the left margin negatively to half of the width of the element.

The container for the ads will have the same style like the billboard, except the background-image. We do that, because we need to position the containing elements at the same place like the billboard. We don’t want to place the ads inside of the billboard because we need the billboard to be on top of them. So, we do this trick and create another element with the same positioning:

    margin:35px 0px 0px 60px;
.ad_1 img{
.ad_2 img{

The slices of the ad images will be 35 pixels wide. The slices of the second ad will have the same width, but initially we need to set it to 0. We also need to set the left margin of the second slices to 18 pixels since we want to create the rotating effect. I will explain more about this value after we define the CSS for the slices.

The single slices need to be positioned:


By positioning the elements one more pixel to the left than they are actually wide, we create a little gap between the them. Now, the left margin has a value of 18 pixels because it is half of a slice plus its gap. We set this because we want the slices to appear (or disappear) from (or to) their center and not just from the side. If we simply set the width of a slice to 0 pixels the image will not seem to be rotating.

And that is all the CSS. For the additional fancy background images you can check out the downloadable version below.

Let’s create the rotating effect with jQuery.

3. The JavaScript

We will now create a function for rotating the slices. The function will make the first ad slices disappear by making their width 0 pixels. To achieve the rotating effect, we add a left margin of 18 pixels.

While the first ad slices disappear we make the others appear by removing the left margin of 18 pixels (that we initially set in the CSS) and giving them a width of 35 pixels. We call the rotate function like this:

 $('#ad_1 > img').each(function(i,e){

The whole script that we call will look like this:

$(function() {            
    $('#ad_1 > img').each(function(i,e){
    function rotate(elem1,speed,timeout,i){
            var other;
            if(elem1.parent().attr('id') == 'ad_1')
                other = $('#ad_2').children('img').eq(i);
                other = $('#ad_1').children('img').eq(i);
                var f = function() { rotate(other,speed,timeout,i) };

So, the rotate function performs the hiding of the current element (that it was called upon) and then identifies which element it’s currently dealing with, so that another call of the rotate function can be performed on the other ad slices.
The two times mentioned in the rotate function stand for the speed of the rotation effect (speed) and the duration between the swapping of the ads (timeout) in milliseconds.

And that’s it!
I hope you like and enjoy it!

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Mary Lou

ML is a freelance web designer and developer with a passion for interaction design. She studied Cognitive Science and Computational Logic and has a weakness for the smell of freshly ground peppercorns.

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  1. Very cool… in IE8 & FF 3.5

    However, it doesn’t work in Google Chrome v4.0.266

    Nice effect. Keep up the great work 😉

  2. Sweet idea. This could really be optimized by using the CSS “background” property instead of downloading all the little slices. And it’d be sweet as a plugin… but I’m not volunteering to write it or anything. 🙂

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  4. Seems to me that you could utilize the background property like @SammyK was saying by calling the same image as the background for each container and using jQuery to determine the background position of the image for each “slice”. Just offset the background-position of the image by the width of each container. You would still have the same amount of HTML but you wouldn’t need to do any actual slicing

  5. @elijah
    Thanks! We only tried it in Chrome Version and it worked fine…we will have to see what the problem is in the new build.
    @Sammy @Trevor
    I actually did that initially but the problem was the rotating effect. You see, when you decrease the width of an image (but keep its height) it gets “squeezed” while a div with a background image will not. I just don’t see how to simulate the rotation effect (i.e. the squeezing) in the “sprites” way.
    The slicing is very laborsome, but there are programs that do that automatically.
    Maybe we can find a solution for a plugin that is less “heavy”.
    Thanks for the feedback!

    • @Eone
      Excellent work! The rotating billboard effect could be simulated with the curtain example! Just the gaps would be missing and the image slices are not really squeezed. But it creates the same effect and it’s much easier to use.
      Puno pozdrava i hvala za komentar 🙂

  6. Another great piece of work! I love the background idea too, the way it adjust for different screen resolutions!

    • @Claude,
      thank you very much! I tried to make it adaptable, I hope it looks good on big screens, I could only tests it on a tiny laptop screen 🙂

  7. instead of having a ton of tiny images why not just use css sprites? Then you would not have to slice up into the little images. Then instead of making all the divs by hand have the js generate them for you and an inline style instead of a class. since the classname is not much longer then the css.

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  9. Well… there’s actually a much better way to do this and you’d never put something into production where you have to make that many HTTP requests. All you need for this is to simulate the slices not actually slice the image. For the “empty parts” during a transition lay divs as position absolutes ON TOP of the full sized graphics which are stacked on top of each other with a z-index. Expand them from 1px wide to 35px. (To get them to seem like they expand from the center you can transition’s left position during the animation of width as well). Then once expanded to max… swap the z-index order of the images…or change their order in code… and then contract your “empty parts” back to 1px again.
    Done!. Less loading. Same effect. Too easy.

  10. First of all, it’s a nice effect! Good work once again. Kevdesign, what u mean with HTTP requests? Where are u seeing them? 🙂

    • @Kevdesign
      thanks for the feedback. That’s looks like a good solution, but again, as I said before, you cannot achieve the “squeezing” image effect like that. To do what you are proposing, there is an even easier solution: the jQuery plugin mentioned by Eone.
      Thanks! Kevdesign probably means that too many request are done because of the amount of images (slices) used.

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  15. preposterous!!

    before I CUT a jpeg into that many SLICES , I call Lorena Bobbit and …. 🙂

    looks nice, two much work….

    hmmm….. on the other hand…maybe I could write a php program to cut up and create the sliced jpegs??

    maybe call it… LorenaBobbit.php???

    Yes! – See you next Tuesday with the code!