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Implement "hotkeys" for keyboard events.

Tested on Chrome, Firefox and Edge (chromium) as of 2020-07-03. Edge Legacy and Internet Explorer do not implement the code field, and so fail with modified letters (like control-Z).

Uses jQuery event extensions (note that the linked article is for jQuery 1.7; the details for extending events has changed a little for jQuery 3 but you have to read the source to figure out what to do) to change the keyup and keydown event handlers to allow for filtering for specific sequences of keys.

So instead of

$(element).on('keydown', event => {
  if (event.key == 'A'){
    // do something

you can do

$(element).on('keydown', {keys: 'A'}, event => {
  // do something

and instead of

$(element).on('keydown', event => {
  if (event.key == 'A' && event.altKey){
    // do something

you can do

$(element).on('keydown', {keys: 'alt-a'}, event => {
  // do something

And allowing sequences means that if you want to capture an A then B keypress, instead of something like:

let prefix = '';
$(element).on('keydown', event => {
  if (event.key == 'B' && prefix == 'A'){
    // do something
  }else if (event.key == 'A'){
    prefix = 'A';
    prefix = '';

you can do

$(element).on('keydown', {keys: 'A B'}, event => {
  // do something


The jquery.keymap.js file patches the jQuery keydown and keyup events to accept event handlers like:

$(element).on('keydown', {keys: keyDescriptorList: string [, allowDefault: boolean = false]}, handlerFunction);

and allow removing handlers (in addition to all the other ways to remove handlers) with:

$(element).off('keydown', {keys: keyDescriptorList}); // removes all handlers that had that keyDescriptorString

keyDescriptorList is a space-delimited list of keyDescriptors, each of which is the value of the key field of the KeyboardEvent, with modifier keys prepended, in the order of (ctrl-)?(alt-)?(meta-)?(shift-)?key. Printable characters (ones with a single-character key value) ignore the shift, since that is part of the character generated. So control-lowercase a would be ctrl-a; control-uppercase a would be ctrl-A; control-1 is ctrl-1, with no distinction between main keyboard and numerical keypad. Alt-octothorpe would be alt-#, not alt-shift-3 on a US keyboard. There are two exceptions:

  1. Space is Space, not " ", since I use actual spaces to delimit key descriptors.
  2. Letters (a-z and A-Z) with modifiers use the code field, rather than the key field. This way ctrl-z uses the 'Z' key, even on a Hebrew keyboard where the 'Z' key produces a 'ז'. My fingers want to use the shortcuts they already know.

That is the "normalized" form of the keys. The program allows lots of synonyms from VIM and John Resig's hotkeys plugin, and Microsoft's SendKeys command.So c+a becomes ctrl-a, ^z becomes ctrl-z, %+{ESC} becomes alt-shift-Escape. Look at the aliasgenerator list in the source code.

The keyDescriptorStringcan also be a regular expression: keys: /F\d+/ matches any function key; keys: /ctrl-[a-zA-z] (Escape|Enter)/ matches any control-letter followed by the escape key or the enter key. The regular expression has to match the normalized form; it's not smart enough to translate the synonyms. Note the space between keys in the regular expression.

The allowDefault option addresses the problem of keys that match the 'prefix' of the keyDescriptorString. The handler is only called after all the keys match, so event.preventDefault() will only prevent the default on that last key. $(element).on('keydown', {keys: 'ArrowUp ArrowUp ArrowDown ArrowDown'}, handler) will still propagate the first three keys (ArrowUp ArrowUp ArrowDown) even if handler calls preventDefault. The program assumes that's not what you want and calls preventDefault on every key event, unless allowDefault is true.

Event handling

Every keyup or keydown event has a new field added: keymap, that is set to the normalized form of the key event. So an event with key: 'a', ctrlKey: true, altKey: true will get a field keymap: 'ctrl-alt-a'. That is what is compared to the key descriptor in the event handler.

If the event matches the prefix of a key descriptor (in the example above, $(element).on('keydown', {keys: 'ArrowUp ArrowUp ArrowDown ArrowDown'}, handler), after a single ArrowUp or after two ArrowUps and an ArrowDown, meaning that it is still possible to match this descriptor), then a custom event keymapprefix is triggered with: $(element).trigger('keymapprefix', [currentSequenceOfKeyDescriptors]);. When the entire sequence is matched, in addition to running handler, a custom event keymapcomplete is similarly triggered.

Other functions

The program exposes three internal functions:

jQuery.keymap(event) adds the keymap field to the event if it is has the appropriate KeyboardEvent fields set (key and code).

jQuery.keymap.normalizeString(keyDescriptor) returns the normalized form of keyDescriptor. For example, $.keymap.normalizeString('^{up}') returns 'ctrl-ArrowUp'.

jQuery.keymap.normalizeList(keyDescriptor) does the same for a space-delimited list of descriptors. For example, $.keymap.normalizeList('{up} {up} {down} {down}') returns 'ArrowUp ArrowUp ArrowDown ArrowDown'.


jQuery plugin to implement "hotkeys" for keyboard events







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