Define and handle your own gestures on multi touch devices' browsers
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CoffeeTouch.js is a multi-touch JavaScript library that allows you to create and handle easily your own multi-touch gestures.

It defines a naming convention to describe gestures and provides functions to handle them.


Some libraries already exist to handle multi-touch gestures like these ones:

But all those libraries suffer from the same limitation: the developer can only listen to predefined gestures, not create his own ones. Moreover, some of them come with many other features, they are heavy and library dependent.

So, benefits of CoffeTouch.js are the following:

  • No dependencies.
  • Lightweight.
  • Easy to use.
  • Allows developper to define his own gestures.

Exhaustive list of JavaScript Libraries which deal with touch events.


As this library is for handle multi-touch gestures it does not work on desktop browsers. It was tested on following plateforms:

  • iOS 4+
  • Android 4.1+

Getting Started

Include CoffeeTouch.js in your web page and you're done.

<script src="CoffeeTouch.js"></script>

Listening to a gesture


document.getElementById("#whiteboard").onGesture("tap", function (event){
  alert("#whiteboard element has been tapped with one finger");
document.getElementById("#whiteboard").onGesture("doubletap", function (event){
  alert("#whiteboard element has been double tapped with one finger");
document.getElementById("#whiteboard").onGesture("doubletap, doubletap", function (event){
  alert("#whiteboard element has been double tapped with two fingers");

Naming convention to describe gestures

A gesture is composed of one or more actions and an action is mapped to a finger.

Action names

Here is an exhaustive list of all possible actions with which you can construct gestures:

  • Tap: when the user taps on the screen
    • tap: single tap
    • doubletap: double tap, like a double click
  • Hold: when the user holds his finger on the screen:
    • fixed: press and hold finger on the screen
    • fixedend: release finger after holding it.
  • Drag: when the user moves his finger on the screen:
    • drag: any directional draging action
    • up: dragging finger upwards
    • right: dragging finger to the right
    • down: dragging finger downwards
    • left: dragging finger to the left
    • dragend: dragging finished (user remove finger from the screen)

Defined gestures

CoffeeTouch.js comes with some common predefined gestures which are:

  • Pinch: when the user brings his fingers closer or spreads them.
    • pinch: bring fingers closer
    • spread: spread fingers
  • Flick: when the user drags quickly on the screen
    • flick: a quick drag
    • flick:direction: flick in a particular direction (direction can be: left, top, right, bottom)
  • Rotation: when the user rotates his fingers
    • rotate: any rotation
    • rotate:cw: clockwise rotation
    • rotate:ccw: counterclockwise rotation

Defining a gesture

Gesture names are action names separated by a comma. Every action is mapped to specific fingers touching the screen. First action will be mapped to the first finger, etc. (see Fingers order convention to understand how each finger is mapped to an action). That way, you can compose any kind of gestures. Example:

  • up,up,up means that three fingers are going upwards.
  • up,down,up means that the first finger is going upwards, the second is going downwards, and the third going upwards.

For pinch, spread and rotation, you can specify the number of fingers used by the user.


  • three:pinch: pinch with three fingers
  • three:rotate: rotate with three fingers

Fingers order convention

Fingers are ordered in the Western reading direction (left to right, up to down):

  • If the gesture starts horizontally, fingers will be ordered from left to right.
  • If the gesture starts vertically, fingers will be ordered from top to bottom.

You can listen to gestures with more or less precision. If you listen to a drag gesture, every move of a finger will execute your callback function. But if you listen to a left gesture, your callback function will be executed only if the finger is moving to the left.

Notice that order is considered in the gesture name. So a gesture description left,right is different from right,left. left,right represents a gesture where the first finger is going to the left and the second is going to the right. right,left is the opposite, the first finger is going to the right and the second is going to the left.



You can pass a hash of options as the third parameter.

The options are:

  • preventDefault (defaults to false): prevent default behavior of browsers. For example, a double tap in iOS is a zoom, if preventDefault is set to true, it won't zoom.
  • flickSpeed in px/ms (defaults to 0.5): minimum speed of the fingers movement to trigger the flick.
  • flickTimeElapsed in ms (defaults to 100): minimum finger contact time for the gesture to be considered as a flick.

Event information object

When the onGesture function is called, an event hash is passed as parameter.


  • rotation: rotation value in degrees
  • scale: scale factor between fingers (only defined for gestures with two or more fingers)
  • nbFingers: number of fingers for the gesture
  • timeStart: time when the gesture started
  • timeElapsed: time elapsed from the beginning of the gesture (in ms)
  • fingers[nbFingers]: Each finger has its own informations.
    • startX: initial X position
    • startY: initial Y position
    • x: actual X position
    • y: actual Y position
    • timeStart: time when the finger has touched the screen
    • timeElapsed: time elapsed from the beginning of the touch (in ms)
    • panX: distance moved in X
    • panY: distance moved in Y
    • speed: speed of the finger
    • gestureName: name of the gesture (tap, doubletap, fixed or drag)
    • dragDirection: direction of the drag (if there is one) - up, down, righ or left

Provided functions

All functions are added to the Element’s prototype.

myElement.onGesture(gestureDescription, callback):

Calls callback when gestureDescription is executed on myElement

// Listening to a `tap`
$("#whiteboard").onGesture("tap", function(event) {
  alert("#whiteboard element has been tapped with one finger");

myElement.unbindGesture(gestureDescription, callback):

Stop executing callback when gestureDescription is executed on myElement. [TODO] what happen if the callback is not already binded?

var alertTap = function() {
  alert("I've been tapped");
// Listen to tap
$("#whiteboard").onGesture("tap", alertTap);
// When #whiteboard is tapped, `alertTap` function is called.

// Unbind `alertTap` function
$("#whiteboard").unbindGesture("tap", alertTap);
// `alertTap` won't be called if #whiteboard is tapped.


Triggers gestureDescription on myElement, can be used to simulate gesture.

var alertTap = function() {
  alert("I've been tapped");
// Listen to tap
$("#whiteboard").onGesture("tap", alertTap);
// When #whiteboard is tapped, `alertTap` function is called.

// Simulate `tap` gesture
// `alertTap` is called

Listening to all gestures

If you want to listen to all gesture events, listen to the all gesture, and the callback function will be called with two arguments:

  1. name: [TODO] explain
  2. event: [TODO] explain


// Listening to all events
$("#whiteboard").onGesture("all", function (name, event){
  alert(name + ' has been made on #whiteboard element');


You can test the library online with your multitouch device:

  • Try some basic gestures.
  • Compose your own gesture and test it!.
  • Canvas example. It's a drawing canvas in which you can do:
    • Double tap with one finger to create a point
    • Tap with two fingers to create two points
    • Flick down with three fingers to clear the canvas
    • Tap with three fingers to validate your drawing
    • Spread/Pinch with two fingers to change the radius of selected point
    • Spread/Pinch with three fingers to change the radius of unselected points


Discovered a bug? Please create an issue.


This project began for the need of the company Structure Computation to create a Web Application that allows to manipulate object in 3D visualization on iPad.


Participated in creation

  • Raphaël Bellec
  • Nicolas Fernandez
  • Pierre Corsini


The code for this software is distributed under the MIT License.