Authors:Kris Zyp
Project owner:Kris Zyp

dojo/on is a general-purpose event handler module for DOM nodes and other event emitting objects, providing normalized event listening and event dispatching functionality.

This module is designed to be lightweight and fast, based on modern browsers’ event model. This module also deprecates the event handling features of dojo/connect.


The module’s return value is an on function that can be directly called to add an event listener:

require(["dojo/on"], function(on){
  on(target, "event", function(e){
    // handle the event

Removing an Event Handler

The return value of on() provides a method that can be used to remove the event listener from the event:

require(["dojo/on", "dojo/_base/window"], function(on, win){
  var signal = on(win.doc, "click", function(){
    // remove listener after first event
    // do something else...


The emit() method provides a normalized mechanism for dispatching events. This method will dispatch an event using the native event facilities when available, and will emulate these facilities otherwise:

require(["dojo/on"], function(on){
  on(target, "event", function(e){
    // handle event

  on.emit(target, "event", {
    bubbles: true,
    cancelable: true

The signature of the method is:

Argument Type Description
target Object This is the target object (a DOM node or other event emitting object) that will be the source of the event. The target object may be a host object with its own event capabilities (like DOM elements or the window), or it may be a JavaScript object with an on() method.
type String This is the name of the event type to be dispatched (like select). This event may be a standard event (like click) or a custom event (like finished).
event Object

This is an object with the properties of the event to be dispatched. Generally you should align your properties with W3C standards. Two properties are of particular importance:

  • bubbles - This indicates that the event should bubble up, first firing on the target object, next on the target object’s parent (parentNode) and so on until it reaches the top of the DOM or bubbling is stopped. Bubbling is stopped when a listener calls event.stopPropagation().
  • cancelable - This indicates that the event’s default action can be cancelled. The default action is cancelled by a listener by calling event.preventDefault(). The emit method does not perform any default action, it returns a value allowing the calling code to perform any default action.
  • detail - When an event is emitted using widget.emit(), this object is added and contains useful information such as a reference to the widget instance that emitted the event.

emit() returns the event object unless the event is cancelable and is cancelled by one of the listeners, in which case it will return false.


The selector() method can be used to apply event delegation when extension events are used (since you can’t use the <selector>:<type> syntax with an extension event). The method is called with the CSS selector as the first argument and the event type as the second argument. For example, to listen for the mouse.enter extension event on elements with the myClass class name, we could write:

require(["dojo/on", "dojo/mouse", "dojo/query!css2"], function(on, mouse){
  on(node, on.selector(".myClass", mouse.enter), myClassHoverHandler);

The selector() method can also be used with custom selector functions, by providing a function instead of a selector string as the first argument. The function will be called each time the indicated event takes place, and provide the event’s target as the single argument. If the selector function has a corresponding node that matches for the event target, it can return that node. If the selector does not match, it should return a falsy value.

Also note that dojo/query must be loaded for selector() to work, even if it is not used directly in your code block.


The pausable() method provides a means for pausing an event listener, while still preserving the listeners order and state. The pausable() method can be called just like on(). The only difference is the returned signal handler will include pause() and resume() methods.

The pause() method will cause the listener to not be called when the specified event takes place. The resume() method will cause the listener to be called again.

For example, we could write:

require(["dojo/on"], function(on){
  var buttonHandler = on.pausable(button, "click", clickHandler);

  on(disablingButton, "click", function(){

  on(enablingButton, "click", function(){


The once() function allows you to register a listener that will be called just once in response to an event. This works just like on(), but the listener will be called a single time and then it will be removed as a listener. For example:

require(["dojo/on"], function(on){
  on.once(finishedButton, "click", function(){
    // will only fire once...


Integration with dojo/query

dojo/query defines an on() method as part of the NodeList objects it returns. So the following can be done:

require(["dojo/query"], function(query){
  query("button").on("click", clickHandler);


One of the key benefits of using dojo/on is that it provides event normalization, event listeners will receive an event object with the properties defined by the W3C event model, even in Internet Explorer. Generally, dojo/on does not normalize non-standard properties.

There are some non-standard geometry properties that are often desirable, that are not normalized by dojo/on. The dojo/dom-geometry module provides a normalizeEvent() function that can be used to normalize the pageX, pageY, layerX, and layerY properties on events.

Multiple Events

You can listen to multiple event types with a single call by comma-delimiting the event names. Then we can listen for multiple events (with delegation) with one call. For example, we can listen for touchend and dblclick:

require("dojo/on", function(on){
  on(element, "dblclick, touchend", function(e){
    // handle either event

Event Delegation

The on() function also provides event delegation functionality. One can use a selector in the event type name to indicate the nodes that are targeted for event listening. The on() function will then use respond to event bubbling and trigger the listener when the appropriate child nodes trigger the event.

The format for selector-based event listening is to use <selector>:<eventType> as the eventType.

For example, to listen for click events on elements with the myClass class name, we could do:

require(["dojo/on", "dojo/_base/window", "dojo/query"], function(on, win){
  on(win.doc, ".myClass:click", clickHandler);

To listen for double clicks on the document and clicks on buttons with myClass class name, we could do:

on(document, "dblclick, button.myClass:click", clickHandler);

Note that event delegation will only work on events that bubble. Most DOM events do bubble, but there are a few exceptions. The mouseenter and mouseleave events do not bubble, but mouseover and mouseout are the bubbling counterparts. The focus and blur events do not bubble, but dojo/on normalizes focusin and focusout as bubbling equivalents. Also, scroll events don’t bubble.

Note that dojo/query must be loaded for event delegation to work.

Sometimes an event may occur on a sub-node beneath the node matching the selector. For example, you may have a table where you want to monitor which <tr> row was clicked, but the actual click events occur on the <td> nodes, or nodes within the <td>.

In this case you can get the node that matched the selector via this:

require(["dojo/on", "dojo/query"], function(on){
  on(myTable, "tr:click", function(evt){
    console.log("Clicked on node ",, " in table row ", this);

Extension Events

The eventType parameter may also be an extension event. An extension event is a custom event that may be based on extended functionality. Dojo includes several extension events, such as mouse tracking functionality with dojo/mouse‘s enter and leave extension events. For example, to listen for the mouse hovering over a DOM node, we could write:

require(["dojo/on", "dojo/mouse"], function(on, mouse){
  on(node, mouse.enter, hoverHandler);

You can also create your own extension events. An extension event is simply a function (or any object with a call() method) that will be called with two parameters. The first parameter is the target and the second is the listener.


Converting from dojo.connect

dojo/on can replace dojo.connect when connect is used for connecting to DOM nodes and event emitting objects (see the dojo/Evented page for more information). If you are connecting to a plain method, use dojo/aspect instead. Also, note that some event emitting objects, like Dijits, have their own event naming conventions and may need to be changed to remove “on” from the names and lower-case the remaining event names used with dojo.connect for some event emitting objects like Dijits.

Transitioning to Dojo 2.0

The dojo/on module is expected to be a core module in Dojo 2.0 with the API introduced in 1.7. The dojo/on module can be used for listening to events on DOM and host objects, as well Evented objects such that your code should transition to 2.0.

However, the event emitting objects in Dojo (including Dijits, DnD, and Animation) are likely to change their events ( both names and emitted event objects) in 2.0, so one should not assume that code using dojo/on to listen to Dojo objects will work unchanged in 2.0.

Using the dojo/on Module with pre-AMD-style Dojo APIs

The dojo/on module can also be loaded with dojo.require("dojo.on") to make available as dojo.on. For example:

dojo.on(document, "click", clickHandler);


Event Delegation

Using event delegation on an HTML table to highlight rows and columns.

  'dojo/query',  // note that dojo/query must be loaded for event delegation to work
], function(on, domClass, domAttr, query) {

  var highlighter = {

    setCol: function(cellIdx, classStr, tbl) {
      var i = 0, len = tbl.rows.length;
      for (i; i < len; i++) {
        var cell = tbl.rows[i].cells[cellIdx];
        if (cell && !domAttr.has(cell, 'colspan')) {  // provided index might not be available and skip header
                                                      //cells with colspan
          domClass.toggle(cell, classStr)

    highlightCol: function(cssQuery, classStr) {
      var self = this;
      query(cssQuery).on('td:mouseover, td:mouseout', function(evt) {
        self.setCol(this.cellIndex, classStr, evt.currentTarget);

    highlightRow: function(cssQuery, classStr) {
      // note: this could also just be set through css with pseudoclass hover
      query(cssQuery).on('tr:mouseover, tr:mouseout', function() {
        domClass.toggle(this, classStr);

    highlightBoth: function(cssQuery, classStrRow, classStrCol){
      var self = this;
      query(cssQuery).on('td:mouseover, td:mouseout', function(evt) {
        var tbl = evt.currentTarget;
        var tr =;
        var td =;
        self.setCol(td.cellIndex, classStrCol, tbl);
        domClass.toggle(tr, classStrRow);

  highlighter.highlightBoth('#tbl', 'tdHover', 'trHover');

#tbl { border-collapse: collapse; }
#tbl td, #tbl th { border-color: #AAAAAA; border-style: solid; border-width: 0 1px; padding: 3px 9px; }

#tbl th { text-align: center; }
#tbl td, .tbl th { text-align: right; }
#tbl td:first-child { text-align: left; }

.tdHover { background-color: #005197; color: #ffffff; }
.trHover { background-color: #E98900; color: #ffffff; }
<table id="tbl">
  <tr><th></th><th colspan="12">Main</th></tr>
  <tr><th></th><th colspan="2">Sub 1</th><th colspan="2">Sub 2</th><th colspan="2">Sub 3</th>
    <th colspan="2">Sub 4</th><th colspan="2">Sub 5</th><th colspan="2">Sub 6</th></tr>
  <tr><th>Categories</th><th>Unit</th><th>± %</th><th>Unit</th><th>± %</th><th>Unit</th><th>± %</th><th>Unit</th>
    <th>± %</th><th>Unit</th><th>± %</th><th>Unit</th><th>± %</th></tr>
  <tr><td>Category 1</td><td>473</td><td>15</td><td>686</td><td>540</td><td>141</td><td>101</td><td>1935</td>
  <tr><td>Category 2</td><td>20</td><td>161</td><td>127</td><td>13</td><td>201</td><td>14</td><td>278</td>
  <tr><td>Category 3</td><td>18</td><td>80</td><td>10</td><td>99</td><td>5</td><td>71</td><td>3</td>
  <tr><td>Catogory 4</td><td>378</td><td>9</td><td>943</td><td>11</td><td>1747</td><td>94</td>

See Also

  • dojo/Evented base class for objects that emit their own events.
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