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Show HN: Weekend project, Intro.js (usablica.github.com)
716 points by afshinmeh on March 15, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 154 comments

Brilliant and almost perfect. I will incorporate it into my project, next week. Thank you so much.

Most people here are asking for more features. Please be careful with that; it would be a pity to see such a pearl to swell into bloatware. You have very good taste, let it be your guide.

You could potentially build a commercial version of this on the same technology, if you wanted to keep the core of it lean. I know several people that would pay money to have this plus analytics about user progress and drop outs, user feedback etc.

Somebody already thought about it: walkme.com

Or HN's own, https://taurus.io/

Thanks for both the pointers!

I can't speak to the other one, but I will go on to say that Taurus is moving very fast. I was an early adopter, and while I don't use them anymore, I saw them go from a barebones product, to a barebones product with an on-site tutorial builder, to a fairly rich product with customizable themes, etc., in just a few weeks.

I can't speak for what they've done since I stopped using them, but looking at their homepage, the velocity still seems pretty high.

Love the concept, I've been looking for something like this and I'm already deploying it in my app.

Used today's commute to package it into introjs-rails, for anybody that wants to use this in their rails app (assuming you are using the RoR asset pipeline)

gem 'introjs-rails'


Nice work! really really awesome.

Hey, I just added intro.js to my project. One thing I noticed is the tooltip always shows up at the bottom. The most useful thing I can think of is supporting an attribute to display the tooltip on any side of the element.

I can link you to my project if you'd like to see how I use it. Just email me- mariusz.n.lapinski@gmail.com. My app isn't ready for prod just yet.

This is very nice but I have some suggestions to improve:

Navigation: The “next” link is very small and it's in different place on every step. A fixed navigation and/or bigger link would be nice.

Also, showing me that it's “Step 3” is useless to me - I can count myself and even if I couldn't, I don't really care how many steps I've already seen. I'm more interested in how many more there are.

There should also be automatic scrolling so that I could actually see the next highlighted area. If you already do the scrolling, remember to scroll in a way that guarantees to show whole area, not only top line.

Thanks for the great work, I think I might use it in my next projet!

I felt the same about the numbers appearing. It reminded me of the numbers that appear on my Facebook notifications/messages, and it made me feel like I needed to click/take some action with the number itself. It didn't really add anything to the experience though.

Other than that, I liked it. I especially appreciated the animated transition to the next step, where the "spotlight" flowed & resized forcing my eyes to follow.

Thanks buddy. I think I'll have those features for next version.

I figured the manual scrolling was to train you to navigate the site. I guess scrolling automatically implies this, but maybe the former is more effective?

Agreed - came to comments to say the numbers aren't necessarily, and the navigation is unclear (though I just used keyboard arrow keys)

i think numbers in some cases are necessary. but can be optional.

yeah we should have a config method.

Just give them a less "active" default color and you're halfway there. As they are now, they seem to be asking for action. I'd also write "Step n of N" or simply "n/N" to help clear the meaning.

Congratulations on your good work, by the way. I don't usually vote TFAs up, but you totally deserve it.

Yeah that's a good idea also. Thanks for your vote.

Place the Next and Prev buttons on a fixed position that doesn't change - for touch devices probably at 50% height, unless they block a tooltip.

The current implementation feels more like a whack-a-mole game than a guided tour. :)

Agreed. That, or put a small reminder on the first step (or on each step) that lets users know they can use the arrow keys. Seeing the arrow in 'Next→' was not intuitive for me (if that was intended to convey that you can change steps with →).

It's the first version! Let us complete it and help me with your suggestions. Thanks buddy.

And it's from a guy in Tehran according to the meta info.

I'm pointing to this, because, even in tech forums I follow, some people believe Iranians are evil and they should be nuked or something.

Don't confuse what your local media say for each country (and how they choose to present it) with what the country actually is.

Don't even judge by the government of the other country (would Americans like to be judged by Bush or Nixon? Maybe Kissinger and Rove?).

And don't judge by your pre-determined cultural notions either. As a European, I abhor the death penalty, the practice of executing 15 year old children and protestant bible thumpers. Still I find the people of Texas mighty fine, including those that agree with those things, and not just the SXSW crowd. So I can also understand people in Iran (or whatever) having their own culture, religious etc and being backwards (to my view) in some regards.

Unless a country has done specific, unprovoked and tangible harm to another country, there is no reason to hate it at all. As for what happens INSIDE the country, it's mostly their thing to deal with.

If you're from a country with a decent visa situation (I.e. not the US or UK) I'd really recommend visiting Iran, its incredible and full of the friendliest people I've had the privilege to meet.

thanks thanks!

I've never once in my life met a person that sincerely thinks that each and every inhabitant of a country is evil when their leaders are.

By the way, "Iranians are evil" does not count, as it generally implies "most Iranians are evil", which, if you count it as a democracy (it is to some extent) and consider the elected leaders to be evil (a reasonable claim from a particular perspective), would be true.

Yeah but it works with jQuery. What if I don't want to add jQuery to my page? IntroJs built with pure JavaScript.

Sure, if you don't want to have jQuery as a dependency intro.js is probably the winner.

However, do note that Foundation's javascript plugins also work with Zepto[1][2] which weighs in at under 10k gzipped.

[1] http://foundation.zurb.com/docs/javascript.html

[2] http://zeptojs.com/

I think the work done here is fansastic and presents a great alternative to the zurb joyride / jquery or zepto combination. I agree with some of the other comments about the usability on an ipad and mobile device as well as scrolling the screen to the focused element. I think larger targets would really help with this.

At this point in its development, if you are able to use jQuery or Zepto I think that Joyride 2 offers a much better UI / UX especially if you are planning to use Foundation 3/4.

I'm also agree with you about the size of `next` and `skip` button. I'll fix it asap.

I was about to post this link myself. I'm not quite sure which one is better.

I tend to like the Intro.js page fade animation. Although JoyRide 2 actually scrolls to the highlighted object, whereas intro.js does not.

Looks very cool but the fact that you have to hit the tiny "next" link makes it hard to use on iPad. It's compounded by the fact that the page isn't scrolling down all the way from step 1 to step2 so you have to scroll down manually.

On the computer, though, this looks slick and works reasonably well. Good job!

We're working to prepare the next version for iPad and other touch devices also.

Cool project, love it when I see devs from Tehran publish their work on HN and become the top on the news with the current situation in Iran and the worst internet connection ever! Good job

Thanks for your nice comment, I think you know our situation exactly!

Nicely done. Bonus points for not making it a jQuery plugin!


I would suggest using the non-minified version of your library on the demo page, because programmers like me will want to look at the source in the fastest way possible, which is in the browser. (Your library is so small I don't think it will make much of a difference to bandwidth, and anyway you are cleverly using github as your static host.)

Nice work.

Yeah cool. So I will change the resources to non-minified version.

Good stuff! Thanks for this.

Just to put it out there, here is an alternative built on jquery.


I'm curious, what connection to Canada does a Tehran-based web development company have?


What connection does bit.ly have to Libya?

Only that at one point, to purchase the rights to that domain name, they effectively paid the Ghaddafi regime a small amount of money, and that they run a popular service that at any time could be hijacked by the current regime in Libya.

Certain TLDs have restrictions on their use, and .ca is one of those.

Many registration authorities choose to let anyone buy their domains because it's a big source of income. Libya is one of those (or always used to be. Since the revolution it's been less clear).

Maybe the domain is being rented from an individual who lives in Canada?

I am also curious. Why do you feel the need to ask this question? Are envy because the guy made a nice tool or what?

Not at all, I just find it odd. Having a fancy URL is great, but the restrictions in place on certain domains are there for a reason and should be respected.

Off topic I think.

Sorry, you are right :). Thanks for the plugin by the way!

Use it buddy :) I spent all of my weekend time to built it and I just published it open-sourced.

I was trying to build something like this and what stopped me from finishing it was handling z-index of different stacking contexts, I couldn't make it work on all cases, from the code it seems you put a very high z-index to the displayed section, which was my approach as well, but on different stacking contexts, I found out that sometimes no matter how high is your z-index, it will still be dependent on the parent stacking context, I guess I could have just released it (it was a jQuery plugin) as it was probably going to work for 99% of the use cases.

Great work in any case!

This is - quite simply - one of the coolest things I have seen in a while. "In game" tutorials are such a fantastic way of demonstrating functionality in that sector - why shouldn't websites be the same ?

Great concept and execution!

One item of feedback: the styling of the numbers look nearly identical to the feedback badge on iOS, which made me think for a second that it was some sort of alert, rather than a step in a sequence. Obviously the styling is customizable by the developer, but as a default, I could see it being confusing to iOS users.

Edit: one more tidbit: resizing the browser doesn't force the box(es) to resize. Admittedly an edge case. :)

Yeah correct, there's a problem when you resize the browser. In the next versions I calculate all box(s) position again to keep focus element helper layer updated.

The HN effect: Visited the project 3-4 hours ago, and it had 40 stargazers, now 650. :)

I really like it by the way, and I think I'll use it for my next project. How about some events though? Like `introJs.on('5', fn)` would execute `fn` when the fifth hint is shown. It could be used to introduce several views to the user (one page app).

Nice, I think we can manage it better if you make an issue on our Github, so I mark it as enhancement and I'll work it for next versions.


The next button could be way bigger though, I felt like I was trying to catch it every time :)

And maybe you can pre-focus on it with JS, so you'd give users the affordance that they can press enter to move on. (You enabled the right arrow key, but I didn't immediately know I could do it).

Overall though its nice to see a non jQuery plugin! And it's very nicely done.

Could use some finessing, on Opera there appears to be a white square/rectangle that appears on the next element for the second and third ones (not sure why). Then it disappears. Maybe it's an Opera thing.

The styles that get applied to the element inside of the "white box" get applied before the white box moves. This is noticeable for the links in the top right. They turn light blue before the box even moves. It should be after the box has moved, since that kind of stuff is pretty much instant.

Just curious ... why is it nice to see a non-jQuery plugin? Isn't the point of jQuery that it's tested and standardized for all browsers, thus theoretically reducing the odds that a plugin won't work on any given browser?

Probably the fact that you don't have to use jQuery if you don't want to.

Yep. We're primarily built using the Closure library so it's nice to not have to bundle jQuery for third-party libs.

Very nice!

Just one thing. I pressed the Enter key thinking that it would take me to the next step (like the right-arrow), but the page background went darker. And, each successive press of Enter made it even darker. I actually liked the effect (even if it was unintended) as it increased the contrast between the step being focused and the rest of the page.

However, I found no way to get back to original page after all the steps are completed (by right-arrow navigation). Pressing ESC had no effect.

Edit: Using Firefox 20.0 on Ubuntu Lucid.

The script probably just needs to check if it is already running before starting.

Same here, using Firefox 19 on Windows XP.

You can go back to normal by clicking with the mouse, the more you click the brighter it gets.

And I ask again, it's very very helpful if you report a bug to our Github.

Thanks, could you please report this problem to the Github issues?

I really like this. I think it would be neat to see a discrete help button or toggle switch, that allows novice users to go into a help mode overlayed on top of a live web app.

For the next versions I'll add it so. Thanks for suggestion.

Hey, we have been looking to integrate a solution like this in our product, I got a couple of suggestions.

First, using data attribute is too intrusive, a json object would have been much better, we just cannot add these attributes everywhere in our app.

Using a json object would also make it possible for anyone to create a UI tool for creating guides.

Also a "scenario" concept would be nice, having the ability to have multiple scenarios in a page is essential for a support team.

Last thing, the UX is fantastic, it's clean and simple :)

Aha, good idea for JSON (but I think attribute is a good one for some frameworks like ExtJs that you don't know your element id or something like that).

What you need by "senario"? Could you please explain it more?

Thanks anyway.

Yea, the support team want multiple scenarios (intros) in a page, we use a param, so they can link to it and push them to users asking how to do stuff,

it becomes for us like an advanced, usable, faq system

Good work. It would be cool if you could also scroll the browser window. For example, in my the I need to scroll down to see the 2nd bubble and up to see the following.

As others have already suggested: I think it would be even better if the explanation box was fixed (e.g. top left corner of the screen) and had a FAT red arrow pointing to the area of the screen that it explains.

This would (imho) make it more obvious what's going on ("Ah, this is explaining that") and would improve usability.

But either way, this is a great start (I love the limelight-effect) and we are definitely going to build on this. Thank you for open sourcing it!

Very nicely done. I find interesting how an intro of this kind makes clearer information that is already to be found within the site itself; it doesn't create new information, it just forces the user to focus on the different areas of the site. I can't help but think we are trained to ignore when we can't see what's on the screen unless the site forces focus over the different areas.

I like it.

I'd recommend that you make a block link out of the text bubble that contains your 'next' link. Honing in on the actual word 'next' slowed me down.

For especially... uninitiated (?) web/computer users I could see there being an issue wherein the text bubble containing 'next' is cut off by the bottom boundary of the browser window.

Just recently I had to make a series of screenshots to walk someone through something. Great weekend project.

Yeah that's a mistake, you're correct. I'll fix it.

Afshin, I think it would be good if you add an example (usecase, scenario, etc.) to the website for a quick introduction of the functionality.

Sure yeah. I'll add it so. Thanks.

I've been looking for something like this for a while now. Brilliantly executed, thanks! I'll definitely be trying it out on my next project.

Whoho, Thanks :)

Neat! Fantastic first version! It has lots of potential. I love how it's not tied to jQuery. And I agree with what some of the others have said - it's possible you could build a freemium service with this. I don't know how ample that opportunity is though.

Here's another feature request to your list too: Have the word bubbles remain in the viewport, or scroll so they are always in view.

How do you achieve the effect of the rounded corner box w/ box-shadow masking the overlay, but allowing content to show through?

It's hosted on github, go and take a look ;).

Ahh, was looking for some new css property - it looks like it just sets position:relative on the content it wants to highlight, and then uses z-index.

Yeah yeah. I didn't find better way for doing that.

I was recently part of a brainstorming session where it was decided that we needed something that could do exactly this. (The way we described it: something like the "Joyride" feature in Zurb Foundation, except it could also highlight the relevant section.)

Keep this simple and fix a few of the bugs, and I think you have a winner.

Hhm, nice. It's the first version of IntroJs, I'll fix the bugs asap.

Awesome project, this plugin is great to do "howtos" and online interactive manuals. Cheers!

Very almost perfect. The only issue I have is with its scrolling - when it scrolls down it only scrolls enough to show the highlighted area, not the textbox underneath it with information. 1366x768 resolution if that matters.


I like what seems to be the differentiating feature here -- highlighting the actual elements on the page rather than pointing at it.

I'm looking forward to the pull requests that fix some of the style issues (next button etc, as mentioned already).

Great. Pull-requests are welcome.

Amazing work, mate! I will definitely use it really soon on Javascript 2d Games to show how to play the games. If you are looking at monetizing it, you could sell it as a plugin for Crafty.js for instance

Good news! Let me know when you use it.

My suggestion: take all the presentation. Make it less graphical and more scalable, lets say i dont want red circle with number i want just the overlay part.

Looks good and I will use it no doubt!

Ok, good. I think I should add a config function to prevent some features, red circles for example.

That would make it. The problem is just that: designers doesn't want anything default. They like to customize to the extreme, take, put, etc.

Keep going nice work!

We built something similar like this based on jQuery Impromptu and merged it together with HowlerJS. This way we have a nice website walkthrough with voice if desired.

Any chance you guys released that as open source? This is exactly what I want. Would be even better if it animated the boxes, so that the users eye is drawn to what you're showing them.

All these projects are really impressive.

Sorry we haven't yet. Let me clean it up and get back with it.

great work, i feel like the rest the next link is to small, and even if you try to navegate with arrows <-, -> and works some other mechanic like (enter/click/tap) to keep going and then (esc/del/back) to avoid the intro, but its a great aid as it is right now a friend of me built something like this (not that good), from zero to his app but now everyone can have this, going to recommend it.

Look great for super lightweight tutorials.

If you need to customize more, http://tutorialize.me is my favorite.

Thanks abailin for plugging my startup! Guys this solution is really cool, and I love the "spotlighting" animation. When it comes to flexibility you definitely cannot compete with implementing a simple library like this. Nevertheless, for ease of installation and for a bunch more amazing features I highly recommend you check out http://tutorialize.me. Fully hosted, asynchronous, installed in minutes, full markup (mustache.js) and CSS editing, Cross browser support, and a sweet dashboard with tutorial analytics. PEACE!

This is piece of brilliant work! When I saw it I suddenly got the idea I have to use it the project I'm working on. Thanks!

Good job. In past I wrote something like this but it was just to save the day, therefore I didn't have a chance to publish.

Great to see some proper Irani geeks doing good stuff.

Does this work in mobile browsers? maybe a compatibility table in the front page?

There are a bunch of tutorials as a service companies out there. Awesome to see one as F/OSS though! Nicely done!

I love it. I wish the next and skip links were larger so it would look good on a mobile device. :)

Really nice idea. will use this and have a 'tutorial' button at the top of my page to trigger it.

"Currently for Modern Browsers only". Can you be more specific? No IE? IE from version 9? 10?

There is only one way to find out.

Sorry for bad README, I'll complete it asap.

Nice but lacks automatic scrolling to guarantee visibility of highlighted part and comment.

Yeah I just used a JavaScript method `scrollIntoViewIfNeeded` to scroll the page to the target element but it works in modern browsers AFAIK.

As far as I can tell it's a non-standard Webkit function. See https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=403510 and https://gist.github.com/hsablonniere/2581101

I'm using Iceweasel straight from debian wheezy repository, i.e. Firefox 10.

IMO not old enough to be not supported, but YMMV.

Falls apart on IE7. Love what you've done though. (Note to employer, UPGRADE MY COMPUTER)

Working on old browsers is a big change in the next version of IntroJs.

Very cool. I'll be following this project. It has some very good points so far. Cleaning it up a little will make it that much better.


I needed something that could easily explain application workflow to the customer - and this is it!

Thank you.

This is just the sort of thing I've wanted to add to my web app. Great work!

Very good, love the idea.

Thanks :]

Nice and simple. Would be great if this worked over multiple pages.

Thanks. What you mean by "multiple pages"?

He means that if intro instructs the user click here, and the browser goes to another page from within the same intro scope, then intro would pick up and continue.

Something like that yes :)

Maybe step 1-3 is on "start.html" and step 4-6 is on "anotherpage.html". So when the user clicks next from step 3, he should be redirected to anotherpage.html and the intro continues.

I got it, I got it. Good idea, I think you submitted an issue on Github also, right? Thanks for the awesome suggestion, in the next versions we will have that also.

+1 - ability to guide a user through multiple pages would definitely be useful. Anyways, thanks a lot for a great contribution.

Submitted a pull request with some basic copy-editing for you.

Thanks, merged.

This is AWESOME! I'm totally going to use it in my project

Awesome - well done :) I'm loving this!

Very nice indeed, looks very well done!

Superbly awesome work, afshinmeh! :D

Nifty little thing! Thank you. :)

Really nice job, well done.

This is so cool.


Wow. Wow.

What a great way to do an on-site tutorial.

Thank you!!

Great project!!

Congrats Afshin

Hey thanks :) I glad to see your comment here.

your project is such a great idea, we're going to use it at theRedPin.com

keep me updated on your other projects. i may have more works for you

very proud of you.

Thanks Bamdad Jan :) I glad to hear that you want to use it.

Great work!

this is simply brilliant.

well done!

You are changing the z-index of the "focused" element but you need to check if one of the parents have z-index defined already because in that case the effect doesn't work.

Instead of looking for a workaround I would suggest that since you are already aiming for modern browsers maybe you should use SVG (clip-path) with CSS {pointer-events: none} so you have a real "hole" and you could use 4 dummy divs if you want to disable interaction with non-focused elements.

It depends on the complexity of the highlighted element, but you could also just clone & absolute-position said element.

That can become a PITA if you want to preserve events and CSS in the focused element.

Nice weekend project - cool!

Worked fine on my laptop - a few problems on my iPad. Suggestion: enlarge the next/prev buttons.

Thank you Afshinmeh and happy new year! :-)

Hey, thanks! Sure, I'll make that buttons better for next version.

Regarding usabili.ca, the domain you're using... If you're "three geeks in Tehran", you really shouldn't be using a Canadian domain. Unless you're Canadians, or are incorporated within Canada.

Just saying.

Unnecessary. There are plenty of .in or .it domains that have nothing to do with India or Italy. It's just a domain name and it's inevitable that people will use it in new ways.

Not all country-level TLDs are administered in the same way. According to Wikipedia, there are no restrictions on .in domains, and .it domains are only available to EU residents.



CIRA, who manage .ca domains, have stricter rules. They can be found here: http://www.cira.ca/why-ca/ca-101/who-can-register-a-ca/

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