Toggling Enabled Controls with jQuery

A project recently came up at work which sounded like a good candidate for a web application, so I'm using it as a chance to do some real "hands on" work in ASP.NET MVC (rather than building off other people's good work on projects like FunnelWeb).

One of the interesting things about working on a web application for the first time is learning javascript and jQuery. I've never really had to write much javascript, so the simple things that this app needs are a perfect way to learn.

The first thing I wanted to try (and the topic of this blog post) was to disable some input controls based on the item selected in a drop-down list. Let's back up and set the scene:

This application is a simple "ordering" process so a farm can order feed for their silos. When the user clicks "new order" he's presented with a list of all his silos, and given a space where he can type in how many tonnes of feed he needs in each one. Here's a screenshot:

A feed order

Pretty straight forward. I want the "quantity" and the "day" controls disabled when the user selects "(None)" from the product drop-down, since it's not valid to enter a quantity without actually ordering a product. I'm happy to leave the "comments" control enabled, though, in case the user wants to leave a comment with their order.

So I need to do two things when the page finishes loading: First, disable all the relevant controls for silos where "(None)" is already selected; and second, make sure that the controls are disabled and re-enabled when the user changes on and off the "(None)" product in the drop-down.

After a bit of reading, and some help from some seasoned web developers on Twitter, I came up with this little script which lives at the bottom of the page:

<script type="text/javascript">
    var toggleQuantity = function() {
        var $this = $(this);

        var tr = $this.closest("tr");

        var day = tr.find(".item-day select");
        var qty = tr.find(".item-quantity input");

        if ($this.find("option:selected").attr("value") === "0") {
            day.attr("disabled", "disabled");
            day.find("option:selected").attr("selected", false);

            qty.attr("disabled", "disabled").attr("value", "0");
        else {

    $(function () {
        var $combos = $(".item-product select");

        // some other stuff using $combos omitted for clarity


So the "toggleQuantity" function essentially looks for an input and select element in the same table row as the product drop-down, and changes them accordingly. It also clears any values assigned to those controls, so the user won't get confused by seeing a value in a disabled control.

As a complete javascript newbie, this code is reasonably self-documenting to me, but then I'm pretty comfortable with CSS selectors, which jQuery seems to make heavy use of. Anyway, it works really well and should go some way to preventing silly data entry errors from the farms. Of course, I'm doing some server-side validation too - can't be too careful! javascript jquery
Posted by: Matt Hamilton
Last revised: 11 Apr, 2011 03:21 AM History



11 Jul, 2012 06:47 PM

I have a similar situation as the one in your tutorial. I have several rows and columns of DDLs and I want the DDLs in Column2 and Column3 to be disabled unless user selects appropriate choice from DDL in Column1. Slight difference is that I want Column3 and Column3 DDL to be disabled for three options of the DDL in Column1 (i.e. "- Select - ", "N/A", "Missing". Any suggestions?

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