When to use PreventDefault( ) vs Return false? [duplicate]

Firstly, in JavaScript's event model, you will come across a concept called as event bubbling (which makes an event to propagate from child element to a parent element). In order to avoid such kind of bubbling effect, many developers use an event method called stopPropagation( ). Alternatively, developers have started to use return false statement to stop such propagation. Now, there is another terminology called preventDefault( ). As the name indicates, this method prevents any default behavior of an element to trigger. Best use case is to prevent an anchor tag to open a link.

You may come across a scenario where you would like to prevent the anchor tag from opening a link (default behavior) as well as stop the event from going up to the parent. In such situation, instead of writing two lines of code, you can get it done in single line i.e; return false

Answers:

Answer

return false;


return false; does 3 separate things when you call it:

  1. event.preventDefault() – It stops the browsers default behaviour.
  2. event.stopPropagation() – It prevents the event from propagating (or “bubbling up”) the DOM.
  3. Stops callback execution and returns immediately when called.

Note that this behaviour differs from normal (non-jQuery) event handlers, in which, notably, return false does not stop the event from bubbling up.

preventDefault();


preventDefault(); does one thing: It stops the browsers default behaviour.

When to use them?


We know what they do but when to use them? Simply it depends on what you want to accomplish. Use preventDefault(); if you want to “just” prevent the default browser behaviour. Use return false; when you want to prevent the default browser behaviour and prevent the event from propagating the DOM. In most situations where you would use return false; what you really want is preventDefault().

Examples:


Let’s try to understand with examples:

We will see pure JAVASCRIPT example

Example 1:

<div onclick='executeParent()'>
  <a href='http://stackoverflow.com' onclick='executeChild()'>Click here to visit stackoverflow.com</a>
</div>
<script>
  function executeChild() {
    alert('Link Clicked');
  }

  function executeParent() {
    alert('div Clicked');
  }
</script>

Run the above code you will see the hyperlink ‘Click here to visit stackoverflow.com‘ now if you click on that link first you will get the javascript alert Link Clicked Next you will get the javascript alert div Clicked and immediately you will be redirected to stackoverflow.com.

Example 2:

<div onclick='executeParent()'>
  <a href='http://stackoverflow.com' onclick='executeChild()'>Click here to visit stackoverflow.com</a>
</div>
<script>
  function executeChild() {
    event.preventDefault();
    event.currentTarget.innerHTML = 'Click event prevented'
    alert('Link Clicked');
  }

  function executeParent() {
    alert('div Clicked');
  }
</script>

Run the above code you will see the hyperlink ‘Click here to visit stackoverflow.com‘ now if you click on that link first you will get the javascript alert Link Clicked Next you will get the javascript alert div Clicked Next you will see the hyperlink ‘Click here to visit stackoverflow.com‘ replaced by the text ‘Click event prevented‘ and you will not be redirected to stackoverflow.com. This is due > to event.preventDefault() method we used to prevent the default click action to be triggered.

Example 3:

<div onclick='executeParent()'>
  <a href='http://stackoverflow.com' onclick='executeChild()'>Click here to visit stackoverflow.com</a>
</div>
<script>
  function executeChild() {
    event.stopPropagation();
    event.currentTarget.innerHTML = 'Click event is going to be executed'
    alert('Link Clicked');
  }

  function executeParent() {
    alert('div Clicked');
  }
</script>

This time if you click on Link the function executeParent() will not be called and you will not get the javascript alert div Clicked this time. This is due to us having prevented the propagation to the parent div using event.stopPropagation() method. Next you will see the hyperlink ‘Click here to visit stackoverflow.com‘ replaced by the text ‘Click event is going to be executed‘ and immediately you will be redirected to stackoverflow.com. This is because we haven’t prevented the default click action from triggering this time using event.preventDefault() method.

Example 4:

<div onclick='executeParent()'>
  <a href='http://stackoverflow.com' onclick='executeChild()'>Click here to visit stackoverflow.com</a>
</div>
<script>
  function executeChild() {
    event.preventDefault();
    event.stopPropagation();
    event.currentTarget.innerHTML = 'Click event prevented'
    alert('Link Clicked');
  }

  function executeParent() {
    alert('Div Clicked');
  }
</script>

If you click on the Link, the function executeParent() will not be called and you will not get the javascript alert. This is due to us having prevented the propagation to the parent div using event.stopPropagation() method. Next you will see the hyperlink ‘Click here to visit stackoverflow.com‘ replaced by the text ‘Click event prevented‘ and you will not be redirected to stackoverflow.com. This is because we have prevented the default click action from triggering this time using event.preventDefault() method.

Example 5:

For return false I have three examples and all appear to be doing the exact same thing (just returning false), but in reality the results are quite different. Here's what actually happens in each of the above.

cases:

  1. Returning false from an inline event handler prevents the browser from navigating to the link address, but it doesn't stop the event from propagating through the DOM.
  2. Returning false from a jQuery event handler prevents the browser from navigating to the link address and it stops the event from propagating through the DOM.
  3. Returning false from a regular DOM event handler does absolutely nothing.

Will see all three example.

  1. Inline return false.

<div onclick='executeParent()'>
  <a href='http://stackoverflow.com' onclick='return false'>Click here to visit stackoverflow.com</a>
</div>
<script>
  var link = document.querySelector('a');

  link.addEventListener('click', function() {
    event.currentTarget.innerHTML = 'Click event prevented using inline html'
    alert('Link Clicked');
  });


  function executeParent() {
    alert('Div Clicked');
  }
</script>

  1. Returning false from a jQuery event handler.

<script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/2.1.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
<div>
  <a href='http://stackoverflow.com'>Click here to visit stackoverflow.com</a>
</div>
<script>
  $('a').click(function(event) {
    alert('Link Clicked');
    $('a').text('Click event prevented using return FALSE');
    $('a').contents().unwrap();
    return false;
  });
  $('div').click(function(event) {
    alert('Div clicked');
  });
</script>

  1. Returning false from a regular DOM event handler.

<div onclick='executeParent()'>
  <a href='http://stackoverflow.com' onclick='executeChild()'>Click here to visit stackoverflow.com</a>
</div>
<script>
  function executeChild() {
    event.currentTarget.innerHTML = 'Click event prevented'
    alert('Link Clicked');
    return false
  }

  function executeParent() {
    alert('Div Clicked');
  }
</script>

Hope these examples are clear. Try executing all these examples in a html file to see how they work.

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