Order of execution for client-side JavaScript event handlers and callbacks

There are a number of different places from which you can execute client-side JavaScript upon clicking an xp:button. In this post, I’ll document both the order of execution and which ones execute for each refreshMode option.

Client-Side Javascript Events and Callbacks

There are 5 ways that I can see to execute client-side JavaScript when a button is clicked.

The easiest way is the “Client” event tab. Use the script editor to add code.

There are also 3 callbacks on the event handler (onStart, onComplete, onError) where you can add client-side JavaScript. These are a little harder to get to — you have to switch to the Source view, click on the xp:eventHandler tag, and then find them in All Properties under the events category.


You can also run client-side JavaScript from an SSJS code using the view.postScript() method. (Here’s an example snippet from Russ Maher) This is a bit more complex because you need to get code into a string (watch the quotes closely!), but it works well.

Here’s an example:

view.postScript('alert("server event - view.postScript");');

An Example

Here’s an example of a button that makes use of all 5 options. xp:this.script is the client-side event. xp:this.action is the SSJS event code with the view.postScript call. onComplete, onError, and onStart are part of the xp:eventHandler itself.

<xp:button value="Refresh Fields 2-4" id="button2">
  <xp:eventHandler event="onclick" submit="true"
    onComplete="alert('server event callback - oncomplete');"
    onError="alert('server event callback - onerror');"
    onStart="alert('server event callback - onstart');"
    refreshMode="partial" refreshId="field1">

      <![CDATA[alert('client event');]]>

      <![CDATA[#{javascript:view.postScript('alert("server event - view.postScript");');}]]>

Order of Execution

The callbacks that run very based on the refreshMode property of the event.

If the page is fully refreshed, then none of the event handler callbacks are triggered. If the event is set to No Update or No Submission, then view.postScript will not run.

Here is the order of execution for each event and callback (with the exception of onError, because it would break the flow) that runs, based on the refreshMode:

  • Full Refresh — client event, view.postScript
  • Partial — client event, onstart, view.postscript, oncomplete
  • No Update — client event, onstart, oncomplete
  • No Submission — client event

The only way they all run is with a partial refresh.

Generated Code in the Browser

Here’s what gets generated and passed to the browser for our sample button (when set to partial refresh). The client-event code is defined in its own function. In the XSP.attachPartial() call, the client side event handler function and the callback functions are all passed (along with the button ID, refresh target ID, etc)

<script type="text/javascript">

function view__id1__id13_clientSide_onclick(thisEvent) {
alert('client event');

XSP.addOnLoad(function() {
XSP.attachPartial("view:_id1:_id13", "view:_id1:button2", null, "onclick", view__id1__id13_clientSide_onclick, 2, "view:_id1:field11", "alert(\'server event callback - 

onstart\');", "alert(\'server event callback - oncomplete\')", "alert(\'server event callback - onerror\')");


The Client-Side Javascript Event vs the onStart Callback

Of particular interest to me is the distinction between the onStart callback of a server side event and the client-side JavaScript event.

I like the concept of the onStart callback, because your code can be consistent if you’re also running code onComplete, however, the client-side JS event is easier to get to and it also has the ability to return false and cancel execution of the server-side event. (The onStart callback throws an error if you try to return false, because it’s not a function.)

If you have any other insight into the differences or a benefit to using the onStart callback of the event handler, I’d love to hear it.


2 responses to “Order of execution for client-side JavaScript event handlers and callbacks”

  1. reeny says :

    Really cool post! I found nothing similar in web. Thanks for this summary and the useful examples!

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