class method Event.on

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Event.on(element, eventName[, selector], callback) → Event.Handler
  • element (Element | String) – The DOM element to observe, or its ID.
  • eventName (String) – The name of the event, in all lower case, without the "on" prefix — e.g., "click" (not "onclick").
  • selector (String) – A CSS selector. If specified, will call callback only when it can find an element that matches selector somewhere in the ancestor chain between the event's target element and the given element.
  • callback (Function) – The event handler function. Should expect two arguments: the event object and the element that received the event. (If selector was given, this element will be the one that satisfies the criteria described just above; if not, it will be the one specified in the element argument). This function is always bound to element.

Listens for events on an element's descendants, optionally filtering to match a given CSS selector.

Creates an instance of Event.Handler, calls Event.Handler#start, then returns that instance. Keep a reference to this returned instance if you later want to unregister the observer.


Event.on can be used to set up event handlers with or without event delegation. In its simplest form, it works just like Event.observe:

$("messages").on("click", function(event) {
  // ...

An optional second argument lets you specify a CSS selector for event delegation. This encapsulates the pattern of using Event#findElement to retrieve the first ancestor element matching a specific selector.

$("messages").on("click", "a.comment", function(event, element) {
   // ...

Note the second argument in the handler above: it references the element matched by the selector (in this case, an a tag with a class of comment). This argument is important to use because within the callback, the this keyword will always refer to the original element (in this case, the element with the id of messages).

Event.on differs from Event.observe in one other important way: its return value is an instance of Event.Handler. This instance has a stop method that will remove the event handler when invoked (and a start method that will attach the event handler again after it's been removed).

// Register the handler:
var handler = $("messages").on("click", "a.comment",;
 // Unregister the handler:
 // Re-register the handler:

This means that, unlike Event.stopObserving, there's no need to retain a reference to the handler function.