Joomla Tooltips

In my porting of Zoom Media Gallery to Joomla 1.5 I had to figure out how to recode the tooltips. Here you’ll find the most basic way to fully customizing your tip.

To start, you must activate the tooltip behavior. This is done with the following line of code:


The built-in Joomla method

The easiest way to create a tooltip is using the JHTML::tooltip method.. The api docs should be here. However here is the method definition. For those unfamiliar with method definitions, the brackets mean the parameter is optional. The equals specifies the default if you do not pass that parameter.

void tooltip (string $tooltip, [string $title = ''], [string $image = 'tooltip.png'],
	[string $text = ''], [string $href = ''], [boolean $link = 1])

The following is a basic tooltip. Keep in mind that the image variable must be in reference to ‘includes/js/ThemeOffice’. Use the prefix ‘../../../’ to reference from the root of the Joomla installation.

JHTML::tooltip('This is the tooltip text', 'Tooltip title', 'tooltip.png', '', '');

The above will make a tooltip on the tooltip.png image. Clicking the image will take you to

JHTML::tooltip('This is the tooltip text', 'Tooltip title', 'tooltip.png', '', '', false);

The above is almost the same except the image will not be a link.

NOTE: Specifying the $text parameter will override any image you have passed to tooltip!

Creation by class name

That is the easy way to do it. You can also apply the “hasTip” class to something to make it a tool tip. This will make it possible to easily do your own custom tips later. I’ve adapted information here from the mootools demo.

<span title="My Tooltip Title :: Here is my tip's text"></span>

This produces a tool tip on the span. The title attribute specifies what is in the tool tip. The format is “Tip Title::Tip Text”.

Designing the tooltip

The default toottips, whether using the JHTML::tooltip method or class method, use the following three CSS classes:

Here are the default styles.

/* Tooltips */
.tool-tip {
    float: left;
    background: #ffc;
    border: 1px solid #D4D5AA;
    padding: 5px;
    max-width: 200px;
.tool-title {
    padding: 0;
    margin: 0;
    font-size: 100%;
    font-weight: bold;
    margin-top: -15px;
    padding-top: 15px;
    padding-bottom: 5px;
    background: url(../images/selector-arrow.png) no-repeat;
.tool-text {
    font-size: 100%;
    margin: 0;

Dump this into your custom CSS file if you have one and alter it to your liking.

Customizing your tooltips

Ok, time to get down and dirty. This is based on the mootools demo. Don’t want anybody to think I discovered it on my own! Now we are going to make our own tip definitions that include a very cool fade in and out. First create a JavaScript file or simply put this code directly into your code. Pick a name for the class to use. I used “zoomTip” as I was playing with Zoom Gallery while learning this.

window.addEvent('domready', function(){
    //do your tips stuff in here...
    var zoomTip = new Tips($$('.zoomTip'), {
        className: 'custom', //this is the prefix for the CSS class
            this.fx = new Fx.Style(this.toolTip, 'opacity', {duration: 500, wait: false}).set(0);
        onShow: function(toolTip) {
        onHide: function(toolTip) {

I’m only going to cover one line of that code here. Please look over the mootools library for more information. I read in their forum that their slider library is not compatible with the tooltips. The 4th line is the prefix for the CSS classes that will be used. In this example the classes will be the following:

Here is some example CSS straight from the mootools demo.

.custom-tip {
    color: #000;
    width: 130px;
    z-index: 13000;
.custom-title {
    font-weight: bold;
    font-size: 11px;
    margin: 0;
    color: #3E4F14;
    padding: 8px 8px 4px;
    background: #C3DF7D;
    border-bottom: 1px solid #B5CF74;
.custom-text {
    font-size: 11px;
    padding: 4px 8px 8px;
    background: #CFDFA7;

Notice that .custom-title does not have a background property. This tool tip will be a box without the neat little arrow pointing at the mouse. If you wanted to change the colors in the box and use the arrows you would have to alter the image to have the color you want and add that property into your .custom-title CSS. Now you must create the items using the class method and not using JHTML::tooltip. JHTML::tooltip applies the classes “editlinktip” and “hasTip”. I have not seen any way to easily alter that. The code below will create a tip using this new js code.

<span title="My Tooltip Title :: Here is my tip's text"></span>

Notice the only difference from the previous example using a span is the class name.

Created 6/28/2007

So there is what I discovered the past couple of days. I’ll edit this as things come up and/or corrections are made.

Joomla API –
Mootools –
Mootools demos –

About Adam Oliver

Adam Oliver has been working in the IT field for over 10 years and is a Sales Engineer for Citrix Systems, Inc. Follow Adam on twitter at Find out more about Citrix at
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