jQuery lightBox vs ColorBox vs FancyBox vs Thickbox – What are the key differences?

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It seems everyone is asking this question lately! What do these lightbox/thickbox/fancybox/colorbox jQuery plugins have in common and what are their differences? I thought I’d go and do my next blog assignment and here’s the result. I have also included the download link for WordPress options since all of them work with WordPress too.

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What is jQuery lightBox?

lightBox

It is a plugin for jQuery and it was inspired in Lightbox JS by Lokesh Dhakar.

Features:

> Simple, elegant and unobtrusive plugin. > Does not require extra mark up. > Customizable jQuery lightBox plugin. > Used to overlay images on the current page through the power and felixibility of jQuery selector. > It has some configuration that you can define when call it. Source Demo Download

For WordPress Option:

Lightbox Plus permit users to view larger versions of images without having to leave the current page. Lightbox is able to add a lightbox to WordPress gallery images, display simple slide shows, video, forms and external content in overlays. Source Demo Download

What is jQuery ColorBox?

ColorBox

Is a lightweight customizable lightbox plugin for jQuery 1.3+. Lightweight (9kb) and supports photos, photo groups, slideshow, Ajax, inline, and iframed content.

Features:

> Completely unobtrusive plugin. > Options are set in the JS and require no changes to existing HTML. > Appearance is controlled through CSS so it can be restyled. > Can be extended with callbacks and event-hooks without altering the source files. > Preloads upcoming images in a photo group. > Used on tens of thousands of sites, including imgur. Source Demo Download

For WordPress Option:

Colorbox/Lightbox plugin for WordPress has feature eleven themes for you to choose from. Image below are two examples of eleven themes. Source Demo Download

What is jQuery FancyBox?

FancyBox

It is a tool for displaying images, HTML content and multi-media in a Mac-style “lightbox” that floats overtop of web page.

Features:

> Can display images, HTML elements, SWF movies, Iframes and also Ajax requests. > Customizable through settings and CSS. > Groups related items and adds navigation. > If the mouse wheel plugin is included in the page then FancyBox will respond to mouse wheel events as well. > Support fancy transitions by using easing plugin. > Adds a nice drop shadow under the zoomed item. Source Demo Download

For WordPress Option:

FancyBox for WordPress is a WP plugin that uses jQuery to display images when clicked, without reloading the page. It uses FancyBox by Janis Skarnelis. Source
Demo Download

What is jQuery Thickbox?

Thickbox

ThickBox is a webpage UI dialog widget written in JavaScript on top of the jQuery library. Its function is to show a single image, multiple images, inline content, iframed content, or content served through AJAX in a hybrid modal. thickbox

Features:

> ThickBox was built using the super lightweight jQuery library. Compressed, the jQuery library is 20k, uncompressed it’s 58k. > The ThickBox JavaScript code and CSS file only add an additional 15k (only 10k by using the thickbox-compressed.js) on top of the jQuery code. The CSS file could additionally be compressed if need be. > ThickBox will resize images that are bigger than the browser window. > ThickBox offers versatility (images, iframed content, inline content, and AJAX content). > ThickBox will hide form elements in Windows IE 6. > ThickBox will remain centered in the window even when the user scrolls the page or changes the size of the browser window. Clicking an image, the overlay, or close link will remove ThickBox. > Due to the ThickBox creator’s view that transitions should be tailored by individual authors, ThickBox windows do not implement fancy transitions. Feel free to add them as you see fit. Is this a feature? Well, some might say it is. > ThickBox can be invoked from a link element, input element (typically a button), and the area element (image maps). Source Demo Download

For WordPress Option:

Thickbox is also available as a wordpress plugin. If you’d like to embed ThickBox into your blog just install this plugin, insert ThickBox compliant markup whereever you want and you’re all set. wordpress-thickbox Source Demo Download

Conclusion

If you are going to study these four plugins thoroughly you will see that all of them don’t have much difference from each other. All of them are lightweight and can be personalized/customized through settings and CSS. Options are set in the JavaScript and require no changes to existing HTML markups. All are completely unobtrusive plugins that are well built for thier purpose. Bear in mind though that Thickbox is no longer maintained and Colorbox and Fancybox are preferred.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about jQuery Lightbox, Colorbox, Fancybox, and Thickbox

What are the main differences between jQuery Lightbox, Colorbox, Fancybox, and Thickbox?

Each of these jQuery plugins has its unique features and uses. jQuery Lightbox is a simple, unobtrusive script used to overlay images on the current page. It’s easy to set up and is compatible with all modern browsers. Colorbox, on the other hand, is a lightweight customizable lightbox plugin that supports photos, grouping, slideshow, ajax, inline, and iframed content. Fancybox offers a nice and elegant way to add zooming functionality for images, HTML content, and multi-media on your webpages. It is built on the top of the popular JavaScript framework jQuery and is both easy to implement and a snap to customize. Thickbox is a webpage UI dialog widget written in JavaScript on top of the jQuery library. Its function is to show a single image, multiple images, inline content, iframed content, or content served through AJAX in a hybrid modal.

How can I customize the appearance of my Fancybox?

Fancybox allows you to customize its appearance through CSS. You can change the border, padding, color, and other properties by modifying the corresponding CSS classes in the Fancybox CSS file. You can also use the ‘helpers’ option in your Fancybox initialization script to customize the appearance of the navigation buttons, thumbnails, and other elements.

Can I use these jQuery plugins on a responsive website?

Yes, all these jQuery plugins are compatible with responsive websites. They automatically adjust their size and position based on the viewport and device used to view the website. However, you may need to make some adjustments in the plugin settings or CSS to ensure they work perfectly on all devices.

How can I add a slideshow functionality using Colorbox?

Colorbox has built-in slideshow functionality. You can enable it by setting the ‘slideshow’ option to true in your Colorbox initialization script. You can also customize the slideshow speed and transition effects using the ‘slideshowSpeed’ and ‘slideshowStart’ options.

Are these jQuery plugins compatible with all browsers?

These jQuery plugins are designed to be compatible with all modern web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. However, they may not work perfectly on older browsers or versions, especially those that do not fully support JavaScript and CSS3.

Can I use these jQuery plugins for commercial projects?

Yes, all these jQuery plugins are free to use for both personal and commercial projects. However, it’s always a good idea to check the license agreement of each plugin before using it to ensure you comply with its terms.

How can I add a zoom effect to my images using Fancybox?

Fancybox has a built-in zoom effect that you can enable by setting the ‘zoom’ option to true in your Fancybox initialization script. You can also customize the zoom speed and transition effect using the ‘zoomSpeedIn’ and ‘zoomSpeedOut’ options.

Can I load content dynamically using Thickbox?

Yes, Thickbox supports dynamic content loading through AJAX. You can load content from a server-side script or another webpage into the Thickbox modal by setting the ‘ajax’ option to true in your Thickbox initialization script.

How can I group images into a gallery using Colorbox?

You can group images into a gallery in Colorbox by using the ‘rel’ attribute in your image links. All images with the same ‘rel’ value will be grouped into a single gallery.

Can I add captions to my images using jQuery Lightbox?

Yes, jQuery Lightbox supports image captions. You can add a caption to an image by including a ‘title’ attribute in your image link. The ‘title’ value will be displayed as the caption when the image is viewed in the Lightbox overlay.

Sam DeeringSam Deering
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Sam Deering has 15+ years of programming and website development experience. He was a website consultant at Console, ABC News, Flight Centre, Sapient Nitro, and the QLD Government and runs a tech blog with over 1 million views per month. Currently, Sam is the Founder of Crypto News, Australia.

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