The difference between event bubbling and capturing

Anton Ioffe - September 25th 2023 - 15 minutes read

In the evolving realm of JavaScript and web development, thorough knowledge of event-driven programming is a necessity. One such fundamental aspect of this programming realm is understanding the twin concepts of Event Bubbling and Event Capturing. These quintessential characteristics of JavaScript profoundly influence the interaction of users with the web elements, thereby underlining the significance of skilled handling of events.

This article aims to unravel these two critical fronts of JavaScript, dissecting their behavior with cogent examples, pinpointing their impact on the performance of applications, and demystifying the default event process in JavaScript. Our journey does not stop here - we'll also guide you through mastering event flow control, diving into strategies that effectively handle flow from stopping event propagation to efficient event delegation.

Our exploration further extends to understanding how these concepts are embraced and implemented in popular frameworks like Angular and React. By uncovering insights into framework-specific event handling with tangible examples, we aim to help you to harness the potential of these concepts optimally. With us, navigate through the complexities of event bubbling and capturing and penetrate the very heart of Javascript.

Understanding Event Bubbling and Event Capturing

Event Bubbling and Event Capturing in JavaScript

In any web application, interactions between users and the webpage is captured through events. An event is any significant occurrence or happening related to the DOM, such as a mouse click, key press, form submission, etc. To handle these interactions in JavaScript, we employ event listeners.

An eventListener is a function in JavaScript that 'listens' for a particular event to occur. This function then triggers a certain action whenever the specified event is detected.

Here is the basic syntax used to add an event listener to an element:

element.addEventListener('eventType', callbackFunction, useCapture);

The addEventListener() function requires three parameters:

  1. 'eventType': Specifies the type of event to be listened, such as click, mouseover, submit, etc.
  2. callbackFunction: A user-defined function that runs when the event occurs.
  3. useCapture: Optional, boolean value specifying the event flow. When true, it makes use of event capturing. When false or omitted, it uses event bubbling.

The concept of event flow in JavaScript pertains to the order in which events are received or propagated in the application. There are three different phases involved in this process: event capturing, target phase, and event bubbling. The primary focus here will be on event capturing and event bubbling.

What is Event Capturing?

Event capturing, also known as event trickling, is the first phase of event propagation. In this stage, the event begins at the top of the DOM tree and moves downwards towards the target element.

For instance, the event flow in capturing would traverse from the document object, through html and body, down to specified parent and finally to the target child.

This phase means that the outer event handler triggers before the specific handler. It is important to note that capturing event handlers are executed before bubbling event handlers.

To use event capturing, the third parameter in addEventListener() should be true.

element.addEventListener('click', callbackFunction, true);

What is Event Bubbling?

Moving onto the final phase of event propagation, we have event bubbling. It is the complete inverse of event capturing. Instead of top-down propagation, event bubbling adopts a bottom-up approach. This means that the event starts at the most specific element, the target, and then bubbles upwards towards the least specific node.

For instance, the event flow in bubbling would start at a child element and traverse upwards through parent all the way up to the body, html, and finally the document object.

To use event bubbling, the third parameter in addEventListener() should be false or omitted.

element.addEventListener('click', callbackFunction, false);
// or simply
element.addEventListener('click', callbackFunction);

Let's consider an example where we have nested nodes. Here is the HTML structure:

<div id='parent'>
    <div id='child'>
        // content

And here is the corresponding JavaScript:

var parent = document.getElementById('parent');
var child = document.getElementById('child');

parent.addEventListener('click', function() {
    console.log('Parent Clicked!')
}, true);

child.addEventListener('click', function (){
    console.log('Child Clicked!')
}, false);

In this situation, clicking on the child div will first trigger event capturing for parent, logging 'Parent Clicked!', and then it will trigger event bubbling for child, logging 'Child Clicked!'.

It is important to note that both capturing and bubbling happen simultaneously. So, unless we explicitly stop the propagation using event.stopPropagation(), the event will propagate through both phases.

child.addEventListener('click', function (e){
    console.log('Child Clicked!')
}, false);

In the above modification, clicking on the child div will only result in 'Child Clicked!' getting logged. The Parent's capturing will be prevented by the stopPropagation() method.

Understanding the concepts of event bubbling and capturing is critical to effectively managing event propagation in JavaScript. It allows developers to handle user interactions in a controlled manner, thus helping craft dynamic and responsive web interfaces.

Implications of Event Bubbling and Event Capturing on Application Performance

In the realm of JavaScript development, understanding the nature of event bubbling and event capturing is incredibly crucial. Yet, the implications of these two paradigms on areas such as performance, memory, readability, and modularity often go unnoticed. Here, we'll discuss in detail how event bubbling and capturing can affect these crucial aspects of your JavaScript application and what potential pitfalls you need to look out for when leveraging them.

Event Bubbling, Capturing and Performance

Event bubbling and capturing can have a significant impact on the performance of the application. The JavaScript engine needs to traverse the DOM tree in order to execute event listeners - either from the top-to-bottom (capturing) or bottom-to-top (bubbling) direction.

The order of handler execution is mainly influenced by the way you register these handlers via addEventListener(). By default, it follows the bubbling mechanism where child nodes are catered before their parent nodes. But, you can set the useCapture flag to true for the event listeners that should react first, hence implementing capturing.

Remember, inefficiently handling event propagation can make your application laggy, especially when the DOM tree is large with many event listeners.

Influence on Memory Consumption

JavaScript allocates memory for every event listener added in the DOM tree. Consequently, the more listeners your web page has, the more memory it utilizes.

Event delegation is an efficient way to handle such situations. By using a single event listener on a parent component that listens for events on behalf of its child nodes, you can significantly reduce the number of event listeners, and consequently, the memory usage.

Event Bubbling, Capturing and Code Readability

Code readability mainly depends on how well the code is structured and predictable. Here, predictability means understanding the sequence of event handling - which event fires first and so on.

Using event bubbling and capturing altogether can sometimes confuse developers about the order of event propagation. Hence, unless essential, maintaining a commonly accepted practice, either bubbling or capturing, contributes to better readability.

Effect on Modularity and Reusability

While dealing with modular JavaScript and component-based architecture, understanding event propagation is crucial. Components should be isolated and reusable, meaning that they encapsulate their functionality and minimize direct interactions with other elements.

However, using event propagation breaks this concept since it inherently implies interaction between a child component and its parent. So, while using propagation concepts, take special care not to break the encapsulation principle of components and ensure their reusability.

Points to Remember

Event bubbling and capturing are potent tools at your disposal, enabling you to control how events propagate throughout your application. However, they should be used judiciously, keeping in mind the implications on performance, memory, readability, and modularity. Aim to avoid inefficient event handling, useless memory consumption, improved code clarity, and modularity adherence for an optimized application performance and smooth user experience.

Best Practices

Here are a few best practices for handling event bubbling and capturing in JavaScript:

  1. Use event delegation to reduce memory consumption.
  2. Stick to one mechanism—either event bubbling or event capturing, unless necessary, to favor code readability.
  3. Be careful while mixing both event propagation methods in component-based architecture to not break reusability and modularity.

These practices will aid you in effectively handling events, enhancing application performance, improving memory management, and maintaining code readability and modularity.

The Default Event Process in JavaScript: Bubbling Vs. Capturing

In the operational sphere of JavaScript, the course with which events traverse the Document Object Model (DOM) becomes a distinctive aspect of their functionality. This flow is primarily meditated upon through the views of Event Bubbling and Event Capturing. Let's delve into these viewpoints and analyze the preferential modus operandi of JavaScript's event process.

Essentially, Event Bubbling and Event Capturing mirror two unique stages of the event flow within the DOM. The crux of the event bubbling notion is that the event initiation commences at the most specific element (the event target) and ascends towards the least specific node - the document root. On the contrary, the event capturing perspective argues that event initiation starts at the document root, a less specific node, and descends towards the event target, the most specific node.

Given the paradigms of both event bubbling and capturing, let's provision a scenario. Suppose an element and its parent each have an event handler assigned to the same event. In such a case, the target element's event handler will activate first during event bubbling. Conversely, in the event capturing phase, the parent element's event handler will have the first say.

One cannot help but wonder which of these two phases, bubbling or capturing, JavaScript deems more functional by default. Unveiling the mystery, JavaScript naturally leans toward the Event Bubbling model. The rationale behind this choice is the extensibility it provides by transpiring from the deepest point on the page, activating all parent element handlers along ascendance. This paradigm allows the script to respond more adeptly to user interactions.

JavaScript, nonetheless, accommodates the third parameter in the addEventListener() function, labeled useCapture, to adjust this default behavior. Ordinarily, useCapture is set as false, reinforcing that event bubbling is the standard event flow process. However, turning useCapture to true ushers in the event capturing phase from top to bottom rather than event bubbling. Despite this option, it is noteworthy that practicing this method is less frequent, implying a continued predilection toward bubbling.

To illustrate this through code:

document.getElementById('grandparent').addEventListener('click', function() {
    alert('Event Captured on Grandparent Element');
}, true);

document.getElementById('parent').addEventListener('click', function() {
    alert('Event Bubbled on Parent Element');
}, false);

document.getElementById('child').addEventListener('click', function() {
    alert('Event Bubbled on Child Element');
}, false);

A unique derivative of controlling event flow is the stopImmediatePropagation() method. This method halts both the flow through the DOM and prevents the immediate triggering of subsequent listeners tied to the same event. It thereby presents a more robust alternative in cases with multiple event handlers for a single event.

In summarizing, it emerges that JavaScript defaults to Event Bubbling in its base conduct. The choice stems from the ease and accessibility afforded by bubbling up the DOM to engage all peripheral handler elements. Even though Event Capturing does not witness as much application in day-to-day coding, it still holds merit and can be successfully deployed when the situation demands.

The art of grasping these event propagation models comes with practice and understanding. As a developer, knowing the intricacies of each model and the underlying capability to implement either could mean the difference in experience for the end-users. Even though bubbling is preferential, imagine a situation where bubbling isn't suitable. Can capturing take the lead in such scenarios? Such thought provoking questions can elevate your expertise and application of JavaScript's event propagation models.

Mastering Event Flow Control: From Stopping Propagation to Implementing Event Delegation

Mastering Event Flow Control: Stopping Propagation

A critical part of managing events within your application involves controlling the flow of events. An essential strategy to this involves the concept of stopping event propagation.

Event propagation allows an event to move either from the outermost element to the deepest nested element (capturing phase), or from the deepest to the outer, from child element to ancestors (bubbling phase). Following the standard event flow, given an event, it can first move down to the intended target (capturing phase), involving any potential handlers, and then move upwards (bubbling phase), alerting susceptive handlers up till the document node.

However, there are cases when we might want an event to be processed by a particular event listener and simultaneously prevent its propagation. This control is achieved using the stopPropagation() method.

Consider the example:

document.querySelector('#btn').addEventListener('click', function(e) {
    console.log('Processing event...');

In the preceding code, once the 'click' event is processed by its handler, the propagation of this event within the application is completely halted. The stopPropagation() method ensures no further propagation either in the capturing or bubbling phase.

However, it's important to note, while the propagation is stopped, other handlers on the same element will still be executed.

Mastering Event Flow Control: Implementing Event Delegation

Event delegation is a design pattern whereby a single parent element listens for events on behalf of its children. This pattern makes efficient use of memory as it negates the necessity of attaching event handlers to individual nodes. Instead, the handler is delegated to a single parent node, resulting in enhanced performance and less code.

document.querySelector('#btnGroup').addEventListener('click', function(e) {
    const targetElement =;
    if (targetElement.matches('.child')) {
        console.log('Child button was clicked');

In this example, instead of attaching individual event listeners to each child button within the #btnGroup, the parent element #btnGroup listens for a 'click' event and checks whether the clicked target was indeed a child. If so, it processes accordingly. By doing so, we've reduced potential overheads related to managing separate listeners for each button, ensuring cleaner and more performant code.

However, be cognizant of a common mistake: confusing the target property with the currentTarget property of the event object. While the target refers to the actual element that caused the event, the currentTarget points to the element to which the event handler is attached.

One common error is referencing event object properties without verifying the target first. This can lead to accessing undefined properties. We recommend always verifying the target before calling properties on it.

Remember, event propagation control and delegation require thoughtfulness and strategy. Being able to cogently choose when to stop propagation or delegate events can lead to cleaner, more readable, and high-performing code.

Framework-Specific Event Handling: Insights from Angular and React

Event Handling in Angular and React: A Deeper Perspective

Let's precisely examine two prevailing JavaScript frameworks, Angular and React, and discover their unique strategies towards event propagation, focusing on bubbling and capturing mechanisms.

Event Handling in Angular

Angular, a holistic MVC framework, boasts a powerful suite of tools for event handling. In Angular, a method called tunneling or event capturing, is used. Essentially, tunneling can be seen as the inverse of bubbling - the event begins at the root and tunnels its way down to the target element, instead of bubbling up.

Angular presents numerous DOM event handlers including (click), (mouseover), (keydown), amongst others, catering for most standard use cases. Using the EventEmitter class, Angular allows for the creation of custom events.

Consider the following illustration of these concepts:

  selector: 'my-app',
  template: `<button (click)="onClick($event)">Click Me</button>`
export class AppComponent {
  onClick(event: Event) {
    console.log('button clicked', event);

Here, when the button is clicked, Angular captures the event and sends it to the onClick method.

On the topic of custom events, Angular uses the EventEmitter along with the @Output decorator.

// Child component
  selector: 'app-child',
  template: `<button (click)="onClick()">Click Me</button>`
export class ChildComponent {
  @Output() customEvent = new EventEmitter<string>();

  onClick() {
    this.customEvent.emit('child component button clicked');

// Parent component
  selector: 'my-app',
  template: `<app-child (customEvent)="handleCustomEvent($event)"></app-child>`
export class AppComponent {
  handleCustomEvent(message: string) {
    console.log('Custom event received: ', message);

In this example, we broadcast a custom event from the child component, conveying data to its parent component, which then logs the received data.

Event Handling in React

React, on the other hand, adopts a synthetic event system, wrapping around the native event system of the browser. This not only enables uniformity across varying browsers but also allows for efficient integration of the React event system with the React lifecycle and state.

React's event handling encompasses JavaScript syntax. It also uses the state and props concepts for data management. The onChange event is utilized for input fields and onClick for buttons. Together, they facilitate the creation of interactive components. Below is an example of event handling in React that shows the modification of component state:

class App extends React.Component {
  state = { clicked: false }

  handleClick = () => {
    this.setState({ clicked: true });
  render() {
    return (
      <button onClick={this.handleClick}>Click me</button>

Creating and handling custom events in React is also possible:

class ParentComponent extends React.Component {
  handleCustomEvent = data => {
    console.log('Custom event data:', data);

  render() {
    return <ChildComponent customEvent={this.handleCustomEvent} />;

class ChildComponent extends React.Component {
  handleClick = () => {
    this.props.customEvent && this.props.customEvent('Child button clicked');

  render() {
    return <button onClick={this.handleClick}>Click me</button>;

In this code, the ChildComponent calls the customEvent prop as a function, passing in some data. The ParentComponent receives the data and logs it.

In conclusion, Angular and React process event handling in unique ways. However, the core methodologies lean towards similar principles, with minor variations in syntax and framework-specific approaches. By comprehending how these frameworks manage event propagation, along with the conditions under which to use bubbling or capturing, developers could implement potent event handling tactics appropriate to their specific requirements. The final choice is entirely yours. These insights can contribute to writing clearer and more efficient code, enabling you to make the most of your preferred development framework.


This article explores the concepts of event bubbling and event capturing in JavaScript. It explains that event bubbling involves the event starting at the most specific element and then propagating upwards through its ancestors, while event capturing starts at the top of the DOM tree and moves downwards towards the target element. The article discusses how to use event listeners to handle these events and provides examples of event propagation in both capturing and bubbling phases. It also delves into the implications of event bubbling and capturing on application performance, memory consumption, code readability, and modularity. Additionally, the article touches on event flow control techniques such as stopping propagation and implementing event delegation. It concludes by offering insights into how event handling is approached in popular JavaScript frameworks Angular and React.

One key takeaway from this article is that understanding event bubbling and capturing is crucial for effective event handling in JavaScript. By comprehending the order in which events propagate and being able to control event flow, developers can manage user interactions in a more controlled and efficient manner. It is important to consider the implications of event bubbling and capturing on application performance, memory usage, code readability, and modularity when leveraging these concepts. Additionally, the article highlights the use of event delegation and event propagation control techniques like stopping propagation to optimize event handling.

To further explore and solidify the understanding of event propagation in JavaScript, a challenging task would be to create a web page with nested elements and apply event listeners for both capturing and bubbling phases. The task would involve adding event listeners to different elements and observing the order in which the event handlers are executed. Additionally, the task could include implementing event delegation by using a single event listener on a parent element to handle events for its child elements. By completing this task, readers would gain hands-on experience with event propagation and improve their ability to handle events effectively in JavaScript.

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