Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Getting The Pixel Width And Height Of A String

I've recently been making an application that required a popup image to dynamically appear beside text, which is variable in length. Since I always want the image to show up 15px to the right of the text, I needed to get the width of the string. What I could do (if you are positive of the font face it's show in) is take the average width of each character, get the number of characters and get the width that way. However, you throw in a few "..." or move between browsers that have differeing rendering for the same font and you may be SOL depending on your application.

I was looking around the web for a solution and found the following article. The article had an example with an existing TD, however, what you're doing, and what I did, may not be in a TD. So I came up with the following to make it dynamic:

function GetStringPixelWidth(str)
var elem = document.createElement('SPAN');
elem.innerHTML = str; = 'hidden';
var w = elem.offsetWidth;
return w;

One must append it to the document so the offsetWidth is actually calculated. I added it to the body, but you can add it to the parentElement that str is coming from so you can get the width of wrapping text.

UPDATE: I found that in Mozilla FireFox, adding the TD doesn't work. In light of this, I've updated the code to instead add a SPAN element. I'm thinking FF doesn't know how to handle adding a single TD into the document; it kept returning 2 as the offsetWidth. It didn't matter if I created TABLE and TR elements and nested them. Always 2. With the span, it's still a dynamic width, unlike DIVs, and can be independently added to the page with no issues.

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