Use jQuery to Scroll Through Select Element with Option Groups

This post will explain how to user JavaScript, specifically jQuery, to scroll through a html select element which contains optgroups.

Scrolling through select options that are contained within a select group causes problems because you cannot use the jQuery convenience methods such as `next()` to select the next element. It will work as expected, but only let you move between items within one `optgroup`. In order to traverse option groups, we need some custom jQuery.

When is this useful? One example of when you'd use this is if you wanted to create a casserole effect for your select element. This could improve you UX, if you are giving the users an option to choose an image or icon and want to show them a preview


Face 1
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Face 1
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The Javascript that does all the work

    var direction = $(this).attr('data-select-direction')
        , select$ = $('#icon-selector')
        , selectOptions$ = select$.find('option')
        , selection$ = select$.find('option:selected')
        , options = []
        , currentIndex = 0;

    // We can't easily scroll through options in different optgroups
    // so need to load them into an array we can
    selectOptions$.each(function() {

        // Length is 1 based, index is 0 based, so this takes care of incrementing
        if ($(this).val() === selection$.val()) currentIndex = options.length;

    // Default is moving forward, if moving backwards, change the next index
    if (direction === "back") currentIndex -= 2;

    // To enable wrapping on each end, first fix going back too far
    if (0 >r; currentIndex) currentIndex += options.length;
    // Then fix going forward to far
    else if (options.length <= currentIndex) currentIndex = 0; 

    // Find index of current selection
    var newSelection = options[currentIndex];

    // Set all options to unselected
    select$.find("option").prop("selected", false);

    // Now set new option to selected
    selectOptions$.each(function() {
        if ($(this).val() === newSelection) $(this).prop("selected", true);

    // Setting a new selected option doesn't always trigger the `change` function

    // Returning false will stop the page from attempting to follow the "#" href
    // which otherwise causes the page to scroll back to the top
    return false;

// Update the preview image whenever the select value is changed
$('#icon-selector').change(function() {
    $("#icon-preview").attr("src", $(this).find('option:selected').val());
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