Event Listeners

Event Listeners are a special type of function in JavaScript that waits for a specified event, and then calls a callback function after that event has been triggered

Common Usage

  • element.addEventListener('event', callback)

    • Used in client side JavaScript to add an event listener to a specific element taking a specified event and callback function to be triggered.
  • <div onclick="myFunction()" >...</div>

    • Inline in your HTML, fires the specified function when the element (<div> in this example) is clicked >NOTE: Unlike other event listeners you do want to call the function being set on the onclick property.
  • setTimeout(callback, int)

    • Calls the callback function after i milliseconds
  • setInterval(callback, int)

    • Calls the callback function every i milliseconds

Event Listeners as HTML properties

The onclick property can be set on any html element.

Some elements have a default onclick. Namely <a> (anchor) tags which go to a specified page or html fragment.

There are a few ways to set the onclick property. The most common ways are inline in your HTML, or by adding an event listener to an element using DOM queries

Lab: Event Listeners on Different Elements

Let's play around with setting event listeners on different elements!

  • Create a new HTML file with the following elements in the body: <a>, <div>, <button>, <form>
    • inside the form add an <input type=text> element and an <input type=submit> element
  <!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <a href="">I'm an anchor tag!</a>
  <div>Divs on divs on divs</div>
  <button>Click Me!</button>
    <input type=text />
    <input type=submit />
  • When the <a> element is clicked send an alert that tells the user "Hello!"

  • When the <div> is clicked change its background color

  • When the <button> is clicked tell the user "goodbye" then disable the button

  • When the <form> is submitted display an alert message

  • Bonus: What happens if you nest divs inside your div with different event listeners on them? Which events get triggered?

Different Types of Events

  • keyup

  • keydown

  • click

  • load

  • submit

  • message

  • error

And many, many more...

The Structure of the Event Listener in JavaScript


Event Listeners Using DOM Queries and JS

  • Add a <script> tag to your HTML and either link to an external javascript file or write your javascript right in the <script> tag

  • use a DOM query to target an HTML element and set it to a variable

  • call the addEventListener method on the HTML element

  • pass the event listener the event you want it to listen for as the first argument

    Note: The event should be a string. e.g. 'click'

  • pass the callback as the second argument. You can either define it inline, or define it elsewhere, and pass the function name as the second argument

    Do NOT call the callback function when you pass it in!