Lightbox (JavaScript)

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A webpage showing a Lightbox 2 window.
Developer(s) Lokesh Dhakar
Stable release 2.04 / March 9, 2008; 409686872 ago
Operating system Cross-platform
Available in English
Development status Stable
License Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

Lightbox, and the newer Lightbox 2, is a JavaScript application used to display large images using modal dialogs. The script has gained widespread popularity due to its simple yet elegant style and easy implementation. While it was initially developed from scratch, Lightbox has since been modified to use a number of JavaScript libraries (such as the Prototype Javascript Framework[1] and[2] for its animations and positioning), in order to reduce the size of the code.[3] The release of Lightbox encouraged other developers to work on similar projects, resulting in products such as the later Thickbox and lighter Slimbox.[3]


How it works

On a Lightbox-enabled page, a user can click an image to have it magnified in a Lightbox window, which resizes itself according to the size of the image using a gliding animation. Lightbox determines which images will be shown in the modal window through the XHTML "rel" attribute, which is used on an <a> element wrapped around the <img> element. Lightbox also provides a way to attach captions to images and to run a slide show, which can be navigated using the arrow keys.


Lightbox permits users to view larger versions of images without having to leave the current page,[4] and is also able to display simple slideshows. The use of the dark background, which dims the page over which the image has been overlaid, also serves to highlight the image being viewed.

While Lightbox is dependent upon a browser's compatibility with Prototype to function,[2] Lightbox is triggered through a standard link tag. Thus browsers that do not support JavaScript simply load the image as a separate file, losing the Lightbox effect but still retaining the ability to display the full-sized image.[4] Even so, some compatibility problems have been identified with versions of Lightbox, in particular when displaying larger images on Firefox or Opera.[5]

Many users have also noted that there is a lack of compatibility across the Internet Explorer range of browsers. Even Internet Explorer 8 Beta has shown issues on some sites. However, many times the compatibility issues can be attributed to users not reading the documentation on how to make lightbox function correctly in these browsers.


  1. Herrington, Jack D. "Ajax and XML: Ajax for lightboxes". IBM DeveloperWorks. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Schmitt, Christopher (2006). CSS Cookbook. O'Reilly. pp. p. 204. ISBN 0596527411. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Resig, John (2006). Pro JavaScript Techniques. Apress. ISBN 1590597273. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Zervaas, Quentin (2007). Practical Web 2.0 Applications with PHP. Springer. pp. p. 423. ISBN 1590599063. 
  5. Campbell, Debbie (February 15, 2007). "Thickbox - For Image Display and Slideshows". WebProNews. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 

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