Bridging to Events

RxJS provides factory methods for you to bridge with existing asynchronous sources in the DOM or Node.js so that you can employ the rich composing, filtering and resource management features provided by RxJS on any kind of data streams. This topic examines the fromEvent and fromEventPattern operator that allows "importing" a DOM or custom event into RxJS as an observable sequence. Every time an event is raised, an onNext message will be delivered to the observable sequence. You can then manipulate event data just like any other observable sequences.

RxJS does not aim at replacing existing asynchronous programming models such as promises or callbacks. However, when you attempt to compose events, RxJS’s factory methods will provide you the convenience that cannot be found in the current programming model. This is especially true for resource maintenance (e.g., when to unsubscribe) and filtering (e.g., choosing what kind of data to receive). In this topic and the ones that follow, you can examine how these RxJS features can assist you in asynchronous programming.

Natively, RxJS supports a number of libraries and hooks into them such as jQuery, Zepto.js, AngularJS, Ember.js and Backbone.js for using their event system. This behavior, however, can be overridden to only use native bindings only. By default, RxJS also has hooks for Node.js EventEmitter events natively supported.

Converting a DOM event to a RxJS Observable Sequence

The following sample creates a simple DOM event handler for the mouse move event, and prints out the mouse’s location on the page.

var result = document.getElementById('result');

document.addEventListener('mousemove', e => result.innerHTML = e.clientX + ', ' + e.clientY, false);

To import an event into RxJS, you can use the fromEvent operator, and provide the event arguments that will be raised by the event being bridged. It then converts the given event into an observable sequence.

In the following example, we convert the mousemove event stream of the DOM into an observable sequence. Every time a mouse-move event is fired, the subscriber will receive an onNext notification. We can then examine the event arguments value of such notification and get the location of the mouse-move.

var result = document.getElementById('result');

var source = Rx.Observable.fromEvent(document, 'mousemove');

var subscription = source.subscribe(e => result.innerHTML = e.clientX + ', ' + e.clientY);

Notice that in this sample, move becomes an observable sequence in which we can manipulate further. The Querying Observable Sequences topic will show you how you can project this sequence into a collection of Points type and filter its content, so that your application will only receive values that satisfy a certain criteria.

Cleaning up of the event handler is taken care of by the Disposable object returned by the subscribe method. Calling dispose will release all resources being used by the sequence including the underlying event handler. This essentially takes care of unsubscribing to an event on your behalf.

The fromEvent method also supports adding event handlers to multiple items, for example a DOM NodeList. This example will add the 'click' to each element in the list.

var result = document.getElementById('result');
var sources = document.querySelectorAll('div');

var source = Rx.Observable.fromEvent(sources, 'click');

var subscription = source.subscribe(e => result.innerHTML = e.clientX + ', ' + e.clientY);

In addition, fromEvent also supports libraries such as jQuery, Zepto.js, AngularJS, Ember.js and Backbone.js:

var $result = $('#result');
var $sources = $('div');

var source = Rx.Observable.fromEvent($sources, 'click');

var subscription = source.subscribe(e => $result.html(e.clientX + ', ' + e.clientY));

If this behavior is not desired, you can override it by setting the Rx.config.useNativeEvents to true which will disregard any library for which we support events.

// Use only native events even if jQuery
Rx.config.useNativeEvents = true;

// Native events only
var result = document.getElementById('result');

var source = Rx.Observable.fromEvent(document, 'mousemove');

var subscription = source.subscribe(e => result.innerHTML = e.clientX + ', ' + e.clientY);

In addition, you could easily add many shortcuts into the event system for events such as mousemove, and even extending to Pointer and Touch Events.

Rx.dom = {};

var events = "blur focus focusin focusout load resize scroll unload click dblclick " +
  "mousedown mouseup mousemove mouseover mouseout mouseenter mouseleave " +
  "change select submit keydown keypress keyup error contextmenu";

if (root.PointerEvent) {
  events += " pointerdown pointerup pointermove pointerover pointerout pointerenter pointerleave";

if (root.TouchEvent) {
  events += " touchstart touchend touchmove touchcancel";

events.split(' ').forEach(e => {
  Rx.dom[e] = (element, selector) => Rx.Observable.fromEvent(element, e, selector)

Now we can rewrite a simple mouse drag as the following:

var draggable = document.getElementById('draggable');

var mousedrag = Rx.dom.mousedown(draggable).flatMap(md => {

  var start = getLocation(md);

  return Rx.dom.mousemove(document)
    .map(mm => getDelta(start, mm))

Note this is already available in the RxJS-DOM project, but is small enough for you to implement yourself.

Converting a Node.js event to a RxJS Observable Sequence

Node.js is also supported such as an EventEmitter:

var Rx = require('rx'),
  EventEmitter = require('events').EventEmitter;

var eventEmitter = new EventEmitter();

var source = Rx.Observable.fromEvent(eventEmitter, 'data')

var subscription = source.subscribe(data => console.log('data: ' + data));

eventEmitter.emit('data', 'foo');
// => data: foo

Bridging to Custom Events with FromEventPattern

There may be instances dealing with libraries which have different ways of subscribing and unsubscribing from events. The fromEventPattern method was created exactly for this purpose to allow you to bridge to each of these custom event emitters.

For example, you might want to bridge to using jQuery on method. We can convert the following code which alerts based upon the click of a table row.

$( "#dataTable tbody" ).on('click', 'tr', e => alert($( ).text()));

The converted code looks like this while using the fromEventPattern method. Each function passes in the handler function which allows you to call the on and off methods to properly handle disposal of events.

var $tbody = $('#dataTable tbody');

var source = Rx.Observable.fromEventPattern(
  function addHandler (h) { $tbody.on('click', 'tr', h); },
  function delHandler (h) { $'click', 'tr', h); });

var subscription = source.subscribe(e => alert($( ).text()));

In addition to this normal support, we also support if the addHandler returns an object, it can be passed to the removeHandler to properly unsubscribe. In this example, we'll use the Dojo Toolkit and the on module.

require(['dojo/on', 'dojo/dom', 'rx', 'rx.async', 'rx.binding'], (on, dom, rx) => {

    var input = dom.byId('input');

    var source = Rx.Observable.fromEventPattern(
        function addHandler (h) {
            return on(input, 'click', h);
        function delHandler (_, signal) {

    var subscription = source.subscribe(
        x => console.log('Next: Clicked!'),
        err => console.log('Error: ' + err),
        () => console.log('Completed'));

    on.emit(input, 'click');
    // => Next: Clicked!

See Also