Event Delegation with jQuery

This is the last in a series of posts on bubbling, delegation and how to delegate events with jQuery. You should already have read the articles What does event bubbling mean and Event Delegation in JavaScript, or have a grasp on their topics.

Event Delegation with jQuery

At the end of the last post, we had a table with hundreds of rows. Each row contained a <a /> to which we wanted to attach a click handler to. We added a single handler to the <table/> element (we delegated the event handler to it) to capture the event.

The correct way to delegate an event handler to the <table> for a click on the <a /> in jQuery would be;

$('#the-table').on('click', 'a', function (e) {
    alert('You clicked row #' + $(this).closest('tr').prop('rowIndex')); 


See it in action here. In words, we capture the element we wish to delegate the event to ($('#the-table')) and call the on() method on it. The event type is the first parameter (click), and the second parameter is a selector which pinpoints the descendant(s) we wish to handle events for (a). The third parameter is the event handler.

Inside the event handler, this is the element the event occurred on (e.g. the <a /> that was clicked). Inside the Event object;

  1. e.target is the element the event occurred on (the same value as this).
  2. e.delegateTarget is the element the event is delegated to (the <table /> element).

Note that jQuery has the same caveat as normal JavaScript when delegating an event to an element; the element you’re delegating to (the table in this case) must exist in the DOM at the time you attach the event.

Controlling Event Bubbling with jQuery

A developer can prevent an event bubbling any further up the list of ancestors if they want to.

To do this, call the stopPropagation() on the event object passed to an event handler. This will execute all other event handlers bound to the current element, but will not propagate up the DOM. You can see this in action here. Even though we’ve bound a click handler to all elements in the ancestor chain, you only see alerts for the a, span and h1, as the h1 handler prevents the event bubbling further.

stopImmediatePropagation() will also prevent the event propagating, but it’ll also stop any other event handlers bound to the current element from firing.

You can check whether an event’s had it’s propagation stopped via the isPropagationStopped() method and isImmediatePropagationStopped() methods.

Another way a developer can stop the event propagating is by returning false from an event handler. This is equivilant to calling stopPropagation() and preventDefault(). I personally recommend against using this shortcut, as it’s use can cause confusion; instead use the methods themselves to make your code more meaningful.

12 thoughts on “Event Delegation with jQuery

  1. Great tutorial, man, many thanks. One reason for stopPropagation() method, is when a handler exists in a parent, BUT YOU DON’T WANT it to apply to a children. In such a case, the children’s even will have it’s own handler, and not trigger parent’s event.

  2. Pingback: Javascript Interview Questions | KRIYANCE

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