Archive for July 11, 2012

Set Firefox “New Tab” page back to about:blank

July 11, 2012 1 comment

Recent Firefox versions show a fancy “top sites” overview page every time the user opens a new (empty) tab. This is supposed to allow quick navigation to your most often visited sites.

If you (like me) don’t like the lag (and related security issues) that this adds to opening new tabs then set the new tab behavior back to showing a blank page:

  • Open “about:config” in the address bar
  • Acknowledge the warning to be careful
  • Search for “browser.newtab.url”
  • Right-click, Modify
  • Change the value from “about:newtab” to “about:blank”

Only after writing this blog post, I noticed that there is a Firefox help page that explains the same procedure.

Categories: firefox

Union and intersection types in Java

July 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Ceylon has union and intersection types at the heart of its type system. Ironically, there is something in Java resembling these powerful concepts, but only in specialized niche contexts and not as “first class citizens” of the type system:

  1. Something like intersection types can be used in generic type boundary declarations (since Java 1.5)
  2. Something like union types can be declared in try-catch blocks that use the multi-catch feature (since Java 1.7)

Interestingly, the Java language engineers used the & and | operators, just like Ceylon. But I have found no evidence so far that they are considering expanding these concepts to the Java type system in general or even let Java developers use them freely in all type declarations …

Update Oct/2012: At JavaOne, I asked Brian Goetz about this. He said that the Java Language team at Oracle has no intention to add additional support – beyond the niches mentioned above – for Union or Intersection types to Java in the foreseeable future.

Categories: java

Autocomplete combobox using JQuery UI

July 11, 2012 10 comments

Disclaimer, Sept 2013: The following worked for me with an older JQuery version, but not with 1.9 or later. The code is provided as is and might be useful for some people, but due to time constraints I cannot assist with problems you might run into.

The example at illustrates how you can use JQuery UI to turn any HTML <select> element into an auto-complete combobox.

Auto-complete means in this context that the select options are narrowed down by what the user has typed in so far.

The example has a few bugs and shortcomings, some of which have been fixed here. I build on this work and further fixed it up to support dynamic updates of the options list through event-triggered AJAX calls. You can find the source code of the resulting JQuery UI auto-complete combobox widget at the end of this post.

Expose it to your webapp as includes/js/combobox.js and include it from your HTML or JSP page like this (adjust the path according to your JQuery UI installation):

<script type="text/javascript" src="includes/js/jquery-ui-1.8.4/js/jquery-1.4.2.min.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="includes/js/jquery-ui-1.8.4/js/jquery-ui-1.8.4.custom.min.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="includes/js/combobox.js"></script>

And let’s say your <select> component looks like this:

<select id="mySelect">
  <option value="1">one</option>
  <option value="2">two</option>
  <option value="3">three</option>
  <!-- etc. -->

Then make it an auto-complete combobox widget like this:

$(document).ready(function() {

You can update the options dynamically using JQuery’s load() function, typically triggered by an event. The interesting part is that I implemented the internal _create() and _init() functions of the widget so that reinitialization through additional calls to combobox() are supported:

    "", // this has to be your own AJAX handler that generates the new options as HTML
    function() { // this callback function is invoked after the AJAX call has returned
        // then refresh the combobox widget (to use the updated options)
 Based on code from

(function($) {

    $.widget("ui.combobox", {

        _create: function() {
            var select = this.element;

            if (":disabled") 
                    || select.hasClass("inputOverlayCreated")) {


            // set up input text element
            var input = $("<input type='text'>");

            // remember that combobox is creates (to avoid odd duplicates)

            // the class ui-combobox-content is required for proper
            // highlighting of data changes
            input.addClass("ui-combobox-content ui-widget ui-corner-left");

            //clear text when user clicks in text input

            input.attr("menustatus", "closed");

            // over-ride form submit, so it can't submit
            // if the menu is open
            var form = $(input).parents('form:first');
            $(form).submit(function(e) {
                return (input.attr('menustatus') == 'closed');

            // set up button for fake 'select'
            var btn = $("<button>&nbsp;</button>");
            btn.attr("tabIndex", -1);
            btn.attr("title", "Show All Items");
                icons: {
                    primary: "ui-icon-triangle-1-s"
                text: false
            btn.addClass("ui-corner-right ui-button-icon");
                // close if already visible
                if (input.autocomplete("widget").is(":visible")) {
                    return false; // return false, so form isn't automatically submitted
                // pass empty string as value to search for, displaying all results
                input.autocomplete("search", "");
                return false; // return false, so form isn't automatically submitted

            // add some styles
            btn.css("margin-left", "-1px");
            btn.css("padding", 0);
            $('span.ui-button-text', btn).css("padding", 0);

            input.css("margin", 0);
            input.css("padding", "0 0.4em 0 0.4em");
            input.css("width", select.outerWidth() - btn.outerWidth(true) - 10);// match the width

        _init : function() {
            var select = this.element;

            if (":disabled")) {
                // we don't apply any fancy combobox behaviour at all
                // if the underlying drop-down list is disabled

            var opts = new Array();
            $('option', select).each(function(index) {
                var opt = new Object();
                opt.val = $(this).val();
                opt.label = $(this).text();
                opts[opts.length] = opt;

            var input =;

            // initialise text with what's currently selected
            input.val($(':selected', select).text());

                source: opts,
                delay: 0,
                change: function(event, ui) {
                    if (!ui.item) {
                        // user didn't select an option, but what they typed may still match
                        var enteredString = $(this).val();
                        var stringMatch = false;
                        for (var i = 0; i < opts.length; i++) {
                            if (opts[i].label.toLowerCase() == enteredString.toLowerCase()) {
                                select.val(opts[i].val);// update (hidden) select
                                $(this).val(opts[i].label);// corrects any incorrect case
                                stringMatch = true;
                        if (!stringMatch) {
                            // remove invalid value, as it didn't match anything
                            $(this).val($(':selected', select).text());
                        return true;
                select: function(event, ui) {
                    select.val(ui.item.val);// update (hidden) select
                    return true;
                // stop parent form from being while menu is open
                open: function(event, ui) {
                    input.attr("menustatus", "open");
                close: function(event, ui) {
                    input.attr("menustatus", "closed");
                minLength: 0

Categories: jquery