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Creating a Simple Countdown Timer Using JavaScript

Creating a Simple Countdown Timer Using JavaScript

Some JavaScripting today! We are going to create a simple countdown timer using JavaScript. What’s the use? Umm, I really am not creative enough to find any of its perfect use but it could be used somewhere, sometimes…and there is no harm in learning something even when there seems to be no potential use of it. Who knows maybe you’d need it sometime to add creativity to your web pages. Of course some of the techniques that we are going to use will be needed at many times, so you won’t wanna miss this!

This time , let’s start off with the code first:


  <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
  <html>
  <head>
  <title>JavaScript Countdown Timer</title>
  <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
  <script language="JavaScript" type="text/JavaScript">
  //to store timeout ID
  var tID;
  function tickTimer(t)
  {
    //if time is in range
    if(t>=0)
    {
      document.writeln(t);
      t=t-1;
      tID=setTimeout("tickTimer('"+t+"')",1000);
    }
    //stop the timeout event
    else
    {
      killTimer(tID);
      document.writeln("<br /> <font color='#ff0000'>Time Out!</font>");
    }
  }

  //function to stop the timeout event
  function killTimer(id)
  {
    clearTimeout(id);
  }
  </script>
  </head>

  <body onLoad="tickTimer(10)" onUnload="killTimer(tID)">
  </body>
  </html>

Now let’s analyze the code:

1. We have created two functions tickTimer() and killTimer().
2. We have defined two event handlers onLoad and onUnload which’d call the respective functions at respective events.

When the code above (as a web page) is executed, it’d proceed as:

1. First the onLoad event calls tickTimer function with the initial time, the countdown timer has to be ticked down form.

2. The function displays the initial time remaining, does some calculations and calls a method setTimeout().

3. The setTimeout function now calls the function passed, every 1000 milliseconds 1 second). On setting the timeout event this method returns a unique ID which would be used to stop the timeout event when needed (onUnload or when timer has ticked down to 0).

One thing you may get confused with is how without loop or anything as such, are we able to count the timer down. Answer is, because JavaScript is an event driven language. First, we are defining a body onLoad event to make a call to some function as the web page is loaded. Second, we are defining a timeout event that would call the function itself (recursive call) every one second indefinitely until the timeout event is cleared. We are clearing the timeout either when the countdown timer reaches 0 or when the page gets unloaded (onUnload).

Had JavaScript not been an event driven language, we’d need to have a loop to check when a second has elapsed and update the variable accordingly. Luckily we don’t have to!

But as it is, can we embed or place the above timer in a web page the way we want, styled and perfectly aligned. Or how about a single number getting counted down rather than showing all the numbers as the countdown proceeds. We’ll see that in the next post!

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