This is part three of a four part tutorial that will teach you how to put together a holiday card generator you can share with friends and family. The tutorial will cover basic HTML, CSS, and Javascript to ensure that your creation will have proper structure, style and functionality. If you are interested in seeing what a finished product looks like, click here and scroll to the bottom to check out a generator our team put together.

Building a Holiday Card Generator

Bringing Your Page to Life

Now that we've created something beautiful, we're going to explore how to bring your page to life. JavaScript allows you to dictate how your page will interact with it's users when they interact with your page. We'll walk through how to add some basic functionality but JavaScript opens a whole other dimension of interaction that is really only limited by your understanding of the language. I really loved the Odin Project's Web Develpment 101 course for hands-on practice and Wes Bos has been an invaluable resource for both JS wizardry and terrible jokes - try out his JavaScript 30 challenge.

In order for someone to be able to fill out and save their own card, we'll need to cover how to:

- Find and select elements on our page 
- Listen for user events
- Attach event listeners to specific elements
- React to user events

Client Side vs. Server Side

Today, we'll only be working with the Document Object using Client Side (Front-End) JavaScript. Client-side JavaScript runs in your user's Browser after the HTML has loaded, allowing you to respond to events and manipulate it's content. Server Side (Back-End) code runs before the page is loaded to setup and deliver the content from the server hosting the webpage. Later on in this project, we'll be using GitHub pages to handle the Server Side setup and to host our project to share with others. If you want to learn more about Back-End programming with JavaScript, explore Node.js with the folks from NodeSchool.

Learning the differences between Front-End/Back-End or Client Side/Server Side early on is useful to give you perspective on the bigger picture of building published a full-scale web app vs. a static page. The Odin Project covers this well, or read up on the essentials.

DOM Selection & Manipulation

Okay so now we have a little context on why JavaScript is wonderful, let's make it useful. All of our JavaScript will be added in our main.js file, which has been linked in our <script> tag at the bottom of our index.html file.

We're going to start by grabbing the different elements and manipulating the Document Object Model, most fondly known as the DOM. Honestly, the DOM is just your markup - the HTML and CSS you wrote in Part I & II. Open up your DevTools and there she is. Read up on the basics of the DOM here and then this short article from the Odin Project covering the essentials of DOM manipulation. This one is manditory 🚧.

Let's take a look at our form and start grabbing the different elements we're going to need. Add this to the top of your main.js file.

var cardContainer = document.getElementById('card-container');
var cardImage = document.getElementById('card-image');
var cardTitle = document.getElementById('card-title');
var cardMsg = document.getElementById('card-msg');
var cardFrom = document.getElementById('card-from');

var formTitle = document.getElementById('title');
var formFrom = document.getElementById('from');
var formMsg = document.getElementById('msg');
var formImage = document.getElementById('image');

var saveButton = document.getElementById('save-button');

The line document.getElementById('card-container') searches through our DOM for the element that has been tagged with the CSS Id #card-container and then stores a reference to that DOM element in a variable. Variables are like shorthand references to help keep our code cleaner and easier to read. You can create new variables using the var delcaration, a variable name of your choice var cardContainer, and then assigning it a value var cardContainer = document.getElementById('card-container'); - don't forget your semicolon at the end.

The big upside to using getElementById is that we have already tagged each of the form elements we knew we would need to manipulate. Seeing CSS Ids can only be used once, we can be fairly certain that our document.getElementById('card-container') selector will give us the right element. You'll need to know more about JavaScript loops and conditionals when you start selecting multiple elements and NodeLists, which you can learn about in this chapter on the DOM from Eloquent JavaScript.

Event listeners

With all of our elements neatly stored in their variables, we can now attach our Event Listeners to trigger a response to a user's actions. Once an event takes place, we can then react by running a function, adding or removing DOM elements, manipulating content on the page or changing CSS properties to name a few.

Read up on events and how we can react to them in this chapter on handling events from Eloquent JavaScript and check out this list of all the events that you can listen for.

To start, we're going to be listening to changes to the contents of our form fields, and then updating the corresponding text value on our card. You can see it in action here.

First, we need to add our event listener to the reference to our DOM elements stored in our variable. Let's take the formTitle and attach a listener for the keyup event. The keyup event will fire anytime a user releases a keyboard key while the formTitle input field is focused.

formTitle.addEventListener('keyup', function(event) {

})

When the keyup event fires, it will run a function consisting of the behaviour that we tell it to do. When a user releases a key, we want to take the value from the formTitle input field and replace the value in our cardTitle element.

Luckily when an event is fired, we have access to something called the event object, which will give us the details about what element triggered the event amongst other things. Seeing we've attached our event to our formTitle input field, we can access value the user inputted using event.target.value.

We now can access the value of our card's title using our cardTitle.innerText and assigning it a new value using the equals sign, similarly to how we assigned our variables their values.

formTitle.addEventListener('keyup', function(event) {
  cardTitle.innerText = event.target.value;
})

formFrom.addEventListener('keyup', function(event) {
  cardFrom.innerText = event.target.value;
})

formMsg.addEventListener('keyup', function(event) {
  cardMsg.innerText = event.target.value;
})

Next up, we can allow users their select from your list of images. We'll add a change event listener which will fire when a selection is changed, and update cardImage's src attribute with our formImage select field's value.

formImage.addEventListener('change', function(event) {
  cardImage.src = event.target.value;
})

Last, we're going to add a click handler for our saveButton. As is implied, this will trigger anytime your user clicks on your 'save card' button. Buttons inside forms have the default behaviour of submitting your form, and your HTML form is smart enough to try and do this with any button you add inside of your <form> tags. In order to stop your webpage from attempting to do what it's told when a user clicks on the form's saveButton, we can add event.preventDefault(); at top of our function to (you guessed it) prevent the default behaviour.

saveButton.addEventListener('click', function(event) {
    event.preventDefault();

});

We'll cover the functionality for inside your click handler to save a card in the next tutorial.