Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

Javascript Page Visibility API

One of our designers showed us a fun little page that changed the title bar to different messages depending on if tab showing the page was visible or not.

I was curious how it was done and it turns out to be super simple.

The ugly, old-fashioned way

The document object has a method called hasFocus() that tells you if that browser tab is visible or not.

My first attempt called hasFocus() on a timer and set the page title appropriately. This worked but there was a little delay when switching back and forth.

setInterval(() => {
    if (document.hasFocus()) {
        document.title = 'Page is visible!';
    } else {
        document.title = 'Page is hidden :(';
}, 200);

The correct way

Turns out all modern browsers have a Javascript API for Page Visibility that lets you respond to page visibility changes in real time.

This is great because your page will instantly receive notifications as it's hidden or unhidden.

let  hidden;
let visibilityChange;

if (typeof document.hidden !== "undefined") {
    hidden = "hidden";
    visibilityChange = "visibilitychange";
} else if (typeof document.msHidden !== "undefined") {
    hidden = "msHidden";
    visibilityChange = "msvisibilitychange";
} else if (typeof document.webkitHidden !== "undefined") {
    hidden = "webkitHidden";
    visibilityChange = "webkitvisibilitychange";

document.addEventListener(visibilityChange, () => {
    if (document[hidden]) {
        document.title = 'Wait. Come back!';
    } else {
        document.title = 'Thanks for visiting this page!';
}, false);

My co-worker helpfully pointed out that, in addition to Page Visibility, there are a vast number of other browser APIs available. Time to do some reading!