jQuery AutoSuggest

An AutoSuggest jQuery plugin.

View the Project on GitHub hlsolutions/jquery-autosuggest

jQuery Autosuggest 2 Build Status

The jQuery plugin AutoSuggest will turn any regular text input box into a awesome auto-complete and auto-suggest box. It will dynamically create all the HTML elements that it needs to function. You don't need to add any extra HTML to work with AutoSuggest. Also, AutoSuggest uses ZERO images! All styling is done 100% in the included CSS file. This means it is super easy to customize the look of everything! You only need to edit the included CSS file. You can even use images if you want, just add the appropriate lines of code into the CSS file.


Please note: This is a fork of the original versions by Drew Wilson and Wu Yuntao.

Getting Started

Download the production version or the development version. Don't forget the CSS production version or the development version.

In your web page:

<script src="jquery.js"></script>
<script src="dist/jquery.autoSuggest.min.js"></script>
$(function($) {
  $('input[type=text]').autoSuggest(dataSource, options);

Note: jQuery version 1.5 or above is required.

More examples see here.

How It Works

As you type into the AutoSuggest input box, it will filter through its dataSource and suggest matched items to you. You can pass in an object of data or you can have it call a URL as you type to get its data from. AutoSuggest will display the matched items in a selectable list, which is 100% customizable. You have the option of structuring the HTML elements of that list however you want via the formatList callback function.

When you type into the input box and the "suggestion" dropdown list appears, a few things happen:

The plugin expects the data passed into it (or gathered from the URL) to be formatted in JSON. JSON is an extremely easy format to work with, and if you don't already... you should :) To learn more about JSON, check out Drew Wilson's post/video, An Introduction to JSON.

When an AJAX request is made the search string is sent over in a param named "q" by default. However you can change that name with the queryParam option. Here is a default example AJAX request: http://www.example.com/your/script/?q=mick "mick" would be the search query that was typed into the input box. Be sure to setup your server-side code to grab that param and send back some results.

As of AutoSuggest version 1.4 you can now create selections by using the tab or comma keys. To do this simply type something into the box and hit the tab or comma keys. The selection is added to AutoSuggest in the exact same manner as if it were chosen from the Results dropdown.

Security: XSS safety

Since 1.7, this plugin prevents injecting JavaScript into the web page with techniques known as cross-site scripting (XSS). Both original version of Drew Wilson and the fork of Wu Yuntao are affected by this vulnerability.

At first all foreign input or content have to be escaped correctly before inserting it as html into the web page. In addition to this, the selections state have be changed internally from a comma separated string into a more comfortable and at least reliable selections holder domain object.

To prove this statement, special test cases could be found at test/jquery.autoSuggest_test.js. Feel free to contribute patches. We will like it!

Browser compatibility

Needs updates.

AutoSuggest has been tested (and works) in:


The plugin's constructor expects two arguments: dataSource and options.

The first argument dataSource defines how the suggested results will be retrieved:

The second argument options specifies the behaviour of the plugin like data transformations, ajax options or event handling.

In general, the options are grouped into following categories:


asHtmlID (string)

Enables you to specify your own custom element id. Otherwise it will default to using a random element id. This is also applies to the hidden input filed that holds all of the selected values.

// example
  id : 'CUSTOM_ID'

I.e., the id of the hidden input input will be now as-values-CUSTOM_ID.

inputAttrs (object)

Specify additional attributes which will be applied to each input on setup.


  autocomplete : 'off'

matchCase (boolean)

Specify whether the search/highlight should be case sensitive.

Default: false

minChars (number)

Minimum number of characters that must be entered into the input field before the search begins.

Default: 1

neverSubmit (boolean)

If set to true this option will never allow the return key to submit the form that AutoSuggest is a part of.

Default: false

selectionLimit (number)

Specifiy the number of selections that are allowed to be made.

Default: false

preventPropagationOnEscape (boolean)

If set to true this option will prevent bubbling events when the escape key was pressed.

Default: false

searchActive (boolean)

If set to true this option will prevent the plugin filters the retrieved data again regardless whether the item was already selected.

Default: false

remoteFilter (boolean/string)

If set to false this option will prevent the plugin filters the retrieved data again. If set to 'auto' the plugin will resolve this setting regarding the datasource is a server or not. The idea is that in case of a server side response the data are already filtered.

Default: true


selectedItemProp (string)

Specifiy the name of the property to use as the display text for each chosen item.

Default: 'value'

selectedValuesProp (string)

Specify the name of the property to use as the value for each chosen item.

This option configures the id values which will be stored into the hidden input field.

Default: 'value'

searchObjProps (string)

Specify a comma separated list of property names. The values in these objects properties will be used to perform the search/highlight on.

Default: 'value'


Let's assume, each record contains at least a firstName and a lastName. Allowing the plugin to search/highlight in both columns, you have to provide following line. searchObjProps = 'firstName,lastName'

preFill (object or string)

Enables you to pre fill the box with selections when the page is first loaded. You can pass in a comma separated list of values (a string), or an object.

When using a string, each value is used as both the display text on the selected item and for it's value. When using an object, the options selectedItemProp will define the object property to use for the display text and selectedValuesProp will define the object property to use for the value for the selected item.

Note: You must setup your preFill object in that format. An example value can look just like the example objects laid out above.


emptyText (string)

Specify text to display when there are no search results.

Default: 'No Results'

emptyTextPlaceholder (string)

RegEx to replace values in emptyText values with query text. If you search for Hans and there is no result and showResultListWhenNoMatch is true, then, a list with one, unselectable entry is shown containing the emptyText, which occurrences of {0} are replaced by the query String.

Default: /\{\d+\}/

limitText (string)

Specify text to display when the number of selections has reached it's limit.

Default: 'No More Selections Are Allowed'

startText (string)

Specify text to display when the input field is empty.

Default: 'Enter Name Here'

usePlaceholder (boolean)

Set HTML5 placeholder attribute to display the startText when the input field is empty.

Default: false

keyDelay (number)

Number of milliseconds to delay after a keydown on the input field and before search is started.

Default: 400


Option to choose whether or not to highlight the matched text in each result item.

Default: true

showResultList (boolean)

If set to false the result list will never be shown at any time.

Default: true

fadeOut (mixed)

Specify whether the removing of a selection should be animated (using fadeOut) or not.

The value of fadeOut will be passed directly into $.fn.fadeOut.


ajaxOptions (object)

An additional options object for jQuery's .ajax (if the Ajax method is used). Example usage: Override the HTTP method into POST.

The defaults will be merged unless they are overridden.

// Default
{type : 'get', dataType : 'json'}

queryParam (string)

The name of the param that will hold the search string value in the AJAX request.

Default: 'q'

retrieveLimit (number)

If set to a number, it will add a '&limit=' param to the AJAX request. It also limits the number of search results allowed to be displayed in the results dropdown box.


These params will be applied to the $.ajax params.

There are three ways provide params. 1. Use an object which will be applied directly onto the internal $.ajax request's params. 2. Use the deprecated way defining a string (prior version 2). But please note: Make sure you add an & before each param. Otherwise you break it all.. 3. Use a callback function returning an object (or a string). The callback's first and only argument is the plugin's scope.

onAjaxRequestAlways (function)

A callback function which will be attached onto $.ajax.always.

onAjaxRequestDone (function)

A callback function which will be attached onto $.ajax.done.

onAjaxRequestFail (function)

A callback function which will be attached onto $.ajax.fail.



Provide some internal hooks with the specified api object. Currently, following methods are provided: 1. add(item) will add another selection item 1. remove(item will remove a selection item

afterSelectionClick (element, item, selections)

A callback that is run when a previously chosen item is clicked. The item that is clicked is passed into this callback function as element.

onSelectionAdd(element, markerElement, detachedElement, options)

A callback that do the actual dom operation (add the detachedElement before markerElement).

onSelectionAdd : function(element, markerElement, detachedElement, options) {
  return containerElement.prev();

onSelectionRemove(element, options)

A callback that do the actual dom operation (remove the element).

onSelectionRemove : function(element, options) {
  if (options.fadeOut) {
    element.fadeOut(options.fadeOut, function(){
  } else {

afterSelectionAdd (element, item, selections)

A callback that is run when a selection is made by choosing one from the results dropdown or by using the tab/comma keys to add one. The selection item is passed into this callback function as element.


afterSelectionAdd: function(element, item, currentSelections){

selectionRemove (element, item, selections)

A callback hat is run when a selection removed from the AutoSuggest by using the delete key or by clicking the "x" inside the selection. The selection item is passed into this callback function as element.


afterSelectionRemove: function(element, item, currentSelections){

beforeRequest (query, options)

A callback that is run right before the Ajax request is made or before the local objected is searched. This is used to modify the search string before it is processed. So if a user entered 'jim' into the AutoSuggest box, you can call this function to prepend their query with 'guy_'. Making the final query = 'guy_jim'. The search query is passed into this function.

Note: The callback must return a string if this is used.

afterRequest (data)

A callback that is run after the ajax request has completed. This allows modifiying the requested data.

Note: The callback must return an object if this is used.

formatList (items, element)

A callback that is run after all the data has been retrieved and before the results are put into the suggestion results list. This is here so you can modify what and how things show up in the suggestion results list.

The argument items is the data you originally passed into AutoSuggest (or retrieved via an AJAX request). The other argument element is the HTML element you will be formatting (the result li item).

Note: The callback must return an element. If you don't care return element.

In order to add extra things to the 'result item' (like an image) you will need to make sure you pass that data into AutoSuggest. Below is an example of formatList in action:

formatList: function(data, elem){
  var my_image = data.image;
  var new_elem = elem.html("add/change stuff here, put image here, etc.");
  return new_elem;

onResultItemClick (data)

A callback that is run when a search result item is clicked. The data from the item that is clicked is passed into this callback function as data.


onResultItemClick: function(data){


A callback that is run when the suggestion results dropdown list is made visible. Will run after every search query.

The argument visible indicates whether the result list is actually visible. Regarding the configuration, the result list will not be shown if there are not items available.


The plugin itself provides different methods depending on the internal state.

init (default)

Arguments: data, options

This is the default method and requires the options as described. This means that $('input').autoSuggest('init', 'url', {}) is equal to $('input').autoSuggest('url', {}).


Arguments: data or array of data

Example 1:

$('input').autoSuggest('add', {
  id : 4711, name : 'Mick Jagger'

Example 2:

$('input').autoSuggest('add', {
  id : 4711, name : 'Mick Jagger'
}, {
 id : 4712, name : 'Kelly Slater'


Arguments: value or array of value

Example 1:

$('input').autoSuggest('remove', 4711)

Example 2:

$('input').autoSuggest('remove', 4711, 4722)


Multiple elements on one page

The above line of code will apply AutoSuggest to all text type input elements on the page. Each one will be using the same set of data. If you want to have multiple AutoSuggest fields on your page that use different sets of data, make sure you select them separately. Like this:

<script src="jquery.js"></script>
<script src="dist/jquery.autoSuggest.min.js"></script>
$(function($) {
  $('div.someClass input').autoSuggest(data);
  $('#someID input').autoSuggest(other_data);

Doing the above will allow you to pass in different options and different data sets.

Setup with static data

Below is an example of using AutoSuggest with a data Object and other various options:

<script src="jquery.js"></script>
<script src="dist/jquery.autoSuggest.min.js"></script>
$(function($) {
  var data = {items: [
    {value: "21", name: "Mick Jagger"},
    {value: "43", name: "Johnny Storm"},
    {value: "46", name: "Richard Hatch"},
    {value: "54", name: "Kelly Slater"},
    {value: "55", name: "Rudy Hamilton"},
    {value: "79", name: "Michael Jordan"}
  $("input[type=text]").autoSuggest(data.items, {selectedItemProp: "name", searchObjProps: "name"});

Setup using AJAX

Below is an example using a URL to gather the Data Object via AJAX and other various options:

<script src="jquery.js"></script>
<script src="dist/jquery.autoSuggest.min.js"></script>
$(function($) {
  $("input[type=text]").autoSuggest("http://example.com/path/to/script", {minChars: 2, matchCase: true});

The "value" property will be stored comma separated in a hidden input field when chosen from the "suggestion" dropdown list. You can see an example of the "value" property being set for each data item in the example above. Typically the "value" property would contain the ID of the item, so you can send a list of chosen IDs to your server.

Setup using a data builder via function (no AJAX)

If the available data will change (i.e. if you progressively or asynchronously load more data for autosuggesting), you can pass a function to autosuggest as the data source.

The function will be passed two arguments:

<script src="jquery.js"></script>
<script src="dist/jquery.autoSuggest.min.js"></script>
$(function($) {
  var slowly_loaded_data = {items: []};

  // Obviously, you'd do something more interesting here.
  setTimeout(function() { slowly_loaded_data = {items: [{value: '11', name: 'A name'}]}; }, 2000);

  function get_data(query, next) {
    next(slowly_loaded_data, query);

Example of backend (i.e. PHP)

Below is an example of how to process the data sent via AJAX to your server in PHP:

$input = $_GET["q"];
$data = array();
// query your DataBase here looking for a match to $input
// DO NOT use this in production. ESCAPE ALWAYS! This is just a simplified example.
$query = mysql_query("SELECT * FROM my_table WHERE my_field LIKE '%$input%'");
while ($row = mysql_fetch_assoc($query)) {
  $json = array();
  $json['value'] = $row['id'];
  $json['name'] = $row['username'];
  $json['image'] = $row['user_photo'];
  $data[] = $json;
header("Content-type: application/json");
echo json_encode($data);

Release History

2012-09-11 Version 2.0.0

The plugin project now uses CoffeeScript and SASS for source building. The unit tests run still with QUnit. grunt is used to manage dependencies, tasks and tests. In addition, Travis CI is now checking every commit.

2012-07-03 Version 1.7.0


Copyright (c) 2012 Jan Philipp Licensed under the MIT, GPL licenses.


In lieu of a formal styleguide, take care to maintain the existing coding style. Add unit tests for any new or changed functionality. Lint and test your code using grunt.

Important notes

Please don't edit files in the dist subdirectory as they are generated via grunt. You'll find source code in the src subdirectory!

While grunt can run the included unit tests via PhantomJS, this shouldn't be considered a substitute for the real thing. Please be sure to test the test/*.html unit test file(s) in actual browsers.

Installing grunt

This assumes you have node.js and npm installed already.

  1. Test that grunt is installed globally by running grunt --version at the command-line.
  2. If grunt isn't installed globally, run npm install -g grunt to install the latest version. You may need to run sudo npm install -g grunt.
  3. From the root directory of this project, run npm install to install the project's dependencies.

Installing PhantomJS

In order for the qunit task to work properly, PhantomJS must be installed and in the system PATH (if you can run "phantomjs" at the command line, this task should work).

Unfortunately, PhantomJS cannot be installed automatically via npm or grunt, so you need to install it yourself. There are a number of ways to install PhantomJS.

Note that the phantomjs executable needs to be in the system PATH for grunt to see it.

Additional requirements

Note: It can be helpful to look into the .travis.yml (configuration file for Travis CI Build system) which contains required dependencies.

Following modules are required:

Note on the original version

This project was a fork of jQuery AutoSuggest (1.6) by Wu Yuntao at https://github.com/wuyuntao/jquery-autosuggest.

Originally, jQuery AutoSuggest (1.4) was developed by Drew Wilson at http://code.drewwilson.com/entry/autosuggest-jquery-plugin/