jQuery UI Widget Factory Bridge Pattern

If you liked the idea of generating plug-ins based on objects in the last design pattern, then you might be interested in a method found in the jQuery UI Widget Factory called $.widget.bridge.

This bridge basically serves as a middle layer between a JavaScript object that is created using $.widget and the jQuery core API, providing a more built-in solution to achieving object-based plug-in definition. Effectively, we’re able to create stateful plug-ins using a custom constructor.

Moreover, $.widget.bridge provides access to a number of other capabilities, including the following:

  • Both public and private methods are handled as one would expect in classical OOP (i.e., public methods are exposed, while calls to private methods are not possible).

  • Automatic protection against multiple initializations.

  • Automatic generation of instances of a passed object and storage of them within the selection’s internal $.data cache.

  • Options can be altered post-initialization.

For further information on how to use this pattern, please see the inline comments below:

 * jQuery UI Widget factory "bridge" plugin boilerplate
 * Author: @erichynds
 * Further changes, additional comments: @addyosmani
 * Licensed under the MIT license

// a "widgetName" object constructor
// required: this must accept two arguments,
// options: an object of configuration options
// element: the DOM element the instance was created on
var widgetName = function( options, element ){
  this.name = "myWidgetName";
  this.options = options;
  this.element = element;

// the "widgetName" prototype
widgetName.prototype = {
    // _create will automatically run the first time this 
    // widget is called
    _create: function(){
        // creation code

    // required: initialization logic for the plug-in goes into _init
    // This fires when our instance is first created and when 
    // attempting to initialize the widget again (by the bridge)
    // after it has already been initialized.
    _init: function(){
        // init code

    // required: objects to be used with the bridge must contain an 
    // "option". Post-initialization, the logic for changing options
    // goes here. 
    option: function( key, value ){
        // optional: get/change options post initialization
        // ignore if you don't require them.
        // signature: $("#foo").bar({ cool:false });
        if( $.isPlainObject( key ) ){
            this.options = $.extend( true, this.options, key );
        // signature: $( "#foo" ).option( "cool" ); - getter
        } else if ( key && typeof value === "undefined" ){
            return this.options[ key ];
        // signature: $( "#foo" ).bar("option", "baz", false );
        } else {
            this.options[ key ] = value;
        // required: option must return the current instance. 
        // When re-initializing an instance on elements, option 
        // is called first and is then chained to the _init method.
        return this;  

    // notice no underscore is used for public methods
    publicFunction: function(){ 
        console.log( "public function" );

    // underscores are used for private methods
    _privateFunction: function(){ 
        console.log( "private function" );


// connect the widget obj to jQuery's API under the "foo" namespace
$.widget.bridge( "foo", widgetName );

// create an instance of the widget for use
var instance = $( "#foo" ).foo({
   baz: true

// our widget instance exists in the elem's data
// Outputs: #elem
console.log(instance.data( "foo" ).element); 

// bridge allows us to call public methods
// Outputs: "public method"

// bridge prevents calls to internal methods

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