bobismijnnaam bobismijnnaam - 1 month ago 4
Javascript Question

Simplest way to detect keypresses in javascript

I have an idea for a game in javascript (I'm going to make it with EaselJS) and I'll have to detect keypresses. After looking around on the internet I've seen a lot of suggestions (use window.onkeypress, use jQuery, etc.) but for almost every option there's a counterargument. What do you guys suggest? Using jQuery for this sounds easy enough but I have virtually no experience with that library (and I'm not particulary a veteran at javascript either) so I'd rather avoid it. If jQuery is the best option, can someone give a good example (with explanation would be awesome) of how to do this?

I guess this gets asked a lot but I couldn't find any clear answers. Thanks in advance!

Ian Ian

With plain Javascript, the simplest is:

document.onkeypress = function (e) {
    e = e || window.event;
    // use e.keyCode

But with this, you can only bind one handler for the event.

In addition, you could use the following to be able to potentially bind multiple handlers to the same event:

addEvent(document, "keypress", function (e) {
    e = e || window.event;
    // use e.keyCode

function addEvent(element, eventName, callback) {
    if (element.addEventListener) {
        element.addEventListener(eventName, callback, false);
    } else if (element.attachEvent) {
        element.attachEvent("on" + eventName, callback);
    } else {
        element["on" + eventName] = callback;

In either case, keyCode isn't consistent across browsers, so there's more to check for and figure out. Notice the e = e || window.event - that's a normal problem with Internet Explorer, putting the event in window.event instead of passing it to the callback.


With jQuery:

$(document).on("keypress", function (e) {
    // use e.which


Other than jQuery being a "large" library, jQuery really helps with inconsistencies between browsers, especially with window events...and that can't be denied. Hopefully it's obvious that the jQuery code I provided for your example is much more elegant and shorter, yet accomplishes what you want in a consistent way. You should be able to trust that e (the event) and e.which (the key code, for knowing which key was pressed) are accurate. In plain Javascript, it's a little harder to know unless you do everything that the jQuery library internally does.

Note there is a keydown event, that is different than keypress. You can learn more about them here: onKeyPress Vs. onKeyUp and onKeyDown

As for suggesting what to use, I would definitely suggest using jQuery if you're up for learning the framework. At the same time, I would say that you should learn Javascript's syntax, methods, features, and how to interact with the DOM. Once you understand how it works and what's happening, you should be more comfortable working with jQuery. To me, jQuery makes things more consistent and is more concise. In the end, it's Javascript, and wraps the language.

Another example of jQuery being very useful is with AJAX. Browsers are inconsistent with how AJAX requests are handled, so jQuery abstracts that so you don't have to worry.

Here's something that might help decide: