Christian Oestreich

   two guys in design - software.development.professional

jQuery Timeout Dialog Widget

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The code for the plugin is available over on Github – jQuery Timeout Dialog Widget.

I was looking into what was available for making a browser idle timer that would redirect the user to a logoff page.  I really liked the work that was done by Paul Irish on his idleTimer plugin as well as Eric Hynd on his Idle Timeout Plugin.  The first thing I did was put their code onto our site.   It was pretty easy to hook up and get working.

We are running WebSphere 6.1 (hopefully moving to JBoss) and the global server session timeout is 30 minutes.  After all was said and done, I decided that what they had was probably overkill for what we were requiring.  The portion of the idleTimer script the detects whether you are idle binds to the following document events.

events = 'mousemove keydown DOMMouseScroll mousewheel mousedown'; //activity is one of these events

What this translates to is listeners bound to almost every user interactive DOM events.  While this probably won’t kill the browser performance by itself, given that we have other dom events being listened to and our users are on IE6 sigh, I felt this was very heavy for just timing the user out of a session.

There were also a few features from the Idle Timeout Plugin that we didn’t need such as having to ping the server via ajax unless they reach some threshold time before the timeout.  Essentially we only want to call the server refresh session via ajax if the user invokes it via the “keep-me-alive” dialog.

We also didn’t need the timer to loop every second.  We set ours for a minute. I almost justified having the timer look on a algorithm based on a combination of the alert and timeout values, but that might also be overkill for what we were doing.

For the widget to work you will need to include jQuery and jQuery-ui.

<div id="timeoutDialog" style="display:none;">
 <p>[Some message here]</p>
 You will time out in <span id="countdownTargetSpan" style="font-weight:bold"></span>
$(function() {
       idleTimeout: 5,
       idleAlert: 1,
       keepAliveURL: "ajax.html",
       validResponseText: 'OK',
       countdownTarget: 'countdownTargetSpan',
       buttonContinueText: 'Ok',
       buttonSignoffText: 'Sign Off',
       onTimeout: function() {
          window.location = "timeout.html";
       onSignoff: function(){
          window.location = "signoff.html";

The code for the plugin is available over on Github – jQuery Timeout Dialog Widget.  I have both the minimized and uncompressed files in the source so you can make any changes you feel necessary to the widget.

This is just a simpler implementation of some pre-existing widgets with a simpler and less taxing code base and can hopefully be useful to those people who do not need a complex solution to keep a session active and timeout dialog.  The only real advantage to this over just doing a simple javascript timer and alert is the more elegant jQuery dialog box…  we liked the look of this over the alert box better.

Value Description Default
idleTimeout Value in minutes that the session will timeout. 30
idleAlert Value in minutes that the alert dialog will be shown 25
keepAliveURL URL for the ajax to invoke to keep the session alive ‘’
validResponseText Response from the ajax call in plain text (html) that signifies a valid session renewed ‘OK’
countdownTarget span where the seconds remaining will be placed ‘countdownTargetSpan’
buttonContinueText Text for the Continue session button ‘Ok’
buttonSignoffText Text for the Sign Off session button ‘Sign Off’
onTimeout Action when timeout happens, usually a redirect to timeout url function(){}
onSignoff Action when timeout happens, usually a redirect to signoff url function(){}

The code for the plugin is available over on Github – jQuery Timeout Dialog Widget.