Extending the jQuery prototype to access Bootstrap components

Recently while transitioning some pages from jQuery-UI to Bootstrap, I found that one feature I missed (or rather, couldn’t find in the documentation) in Bootstrap is the ability to get references to the component object. For example, if we have a button and attach a popover to it, wouldn’t it be nice to grab the HTML of the popover so we can manipulate it later? Bootstrap exposes some functions via the .popover() call, but these mostly deal with toggling the visibility. While the Bootstrap documentation doesn’t explicitly point out how to do this, it’s quite simple to extend the jQuery prototype to get at the component object.

So given some HTML:

<input type='button' id='example' value="Example" />

and some Javascript to add a Bootstrap popover to that element:

	title: 'Example popover',
	content: 'Let's get at this container.',
	placement: 'top'

we notice that Bootstrap itself doesn’t provide any way to grab the popover object. This is because it stores all the info that we need about the component in the trigger element’s jQuery data function:

// In Bootstrap 2.3 and under

// In Bootstrap 3.0+
$('#example').data('bs.popover');// Note the new 'bs' namespace

From there we can access the options, enabled state, arrow and tip objects, a plethora of functions, and more. Care should be taken manipulating some of these elements directly as the result may not be quite as expected (especially when dealing with positioning).

Now, if we want to abstract the .data(‘popover’) call (ie. so that if we plan to transition from 2.x to 3.x we don’t have to change every call from ‘popover’ to ‘bs.popover’, or if we plan on making any changes to the returned object), we can extend the jQuery prototype (via $.fn) to add a function:

$.fn.getPopover = function() {
    return $(this).data('popover');// Or bs.popover in Bootstrap 3.0+

Then from there if we want to, say, add a class to the popover, we could easily call our getter and grab the element:

var popoverObject = $('#example').getPopover().$tip;

It is also worth noting that elements that have arrows store them separately in the $arrow property; useful in case you plan on re-positioning the component.

If we wanted to further extend this logic for multiple components, we could create an array and iterate over it:

function createBootstrapGetters() {
    // Again, you need to prepend 'bs.' here for Bootstrap 3.0+
    var list = ['popover', 'tooltip', 'carousel'];

    $.each(list, function(i, name) {
        var capitalizedName = this.charAt(0).toUpperCase() + name.slice(1);

        $.fn['get' + capitalizedName] = function() {
            return $(this).data(name);

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that this technique may not work with all components (such as dropdowns), as their data attributes are a little different. However, those components are essentially equal to the trigger elements anyway, so manipulating their HTML should be a non-issue.

Igor Shults

About the Author

Object Partners profile.

One thought on “Extending the jQuery prototype to access Bootstrap components

  1. sam says:

    Thanks – saved the day with the name space issue.

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