Declarative event handling to capture unbound action events
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Action Observer

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Declarative event handling to capture unbound action events

Action Observer is a solution for capturing user triggered action events (click, submit) as they bubble up to the document element. This is most useful as a means of maintaining responsiveness pre-initialization of JavaScript heavy apps, allowing action events to be handled immediately or queued for processing once the page has finished initializing.Please refer to the blog post to read more.


Add a data-ao attribute to any element you wish to observe events on:

<!-- Observe click events -->
<a href="#" data-ao="add">Add Item</a>

<!-- Observe submit events -->
<form method="GET" action="#" data-ao="search">
    <input type="search" name="search" />
    <button type="submit">Submit</button>

Adding the data-ao attribute to a form will automatically observe submit events for that form. Otherwise, click events will be observed for any other type of element. The value of the data-ao attribute is used as the reference to that element in JavaScript.

There are two different ways to approach implementation. The first option is to bind a callback function to be executed as soon as an action event is dispatched from the target element, allowing you to handle the request immediately:

ao.observe('add', (event, element) => {
    // Handle the request immediately                  

The other option is to check if an action event was dispatched on a target element once your scripts have completed initializing to address the request afterwards:

if (ao.wasTriggered('add')) {
    // Handle the request after the fact (better late than never)                  

The optimal approach will depend on your specific use case.


ao.observe(key, fn)

Bind a callback to a target element to be executed as soon as an event is dispatched from that element using the reference key (value of data-ao attribute) and a callback function as the first and second arguments. The callback is passed the event object and the target element as the only two parameters.

// Acknowledge the request
ao.observe('link', (event, element) => {;


Remove a callback function from the target element using the reference key (value of data-ao attribute).

// Once the app code has initialized the link, stop observing
if (link.isInitialized()) {


Determine if an action event was triggered on the target element using the reference key (value of data-ao attribute).

// Check to see if an action event was triggered on the link
if (ao.wasTriggered('link')) {


Remove event listeners from the document element and disables all the functionality. This cannot be undone.

// Once all initializing code is complete, disable all functionality
if (app.isLoaded()){


Action Observer is CommonJS and AMD compatible with no dependencies. You can download the development or minified version, or install it in one of the following ways:

npm install ryanmorr/action-observer

bower install ryanmorr/action-observer

You'll want to add the script in the <head> of your HTML. This is important because it must be loaded before the DOM has started to load and scripts have begun executing so that action events can be captured pre-initialization. You may also want to consider adding the script lnline to avoid the extra HTTP request.


Open test/runner.html in your browser or test with PhantomJS by issuing the following commands:

npm install
npm install -g gulp
gulp test


This project is dedicated to the public domain as described by the Unlicense.