Creating keyboard shortcuts with the keypress event

You can, by listening to the keypress event, run actions as users type a certain key combination. Your listener can be registered on:

  • The whole document, in which case it will run whenever users press the key combination you specified. You can register a listener on the whole document either by declaring you listener directly under the xh:body as in:


    Or you can declare it anywhere in your form with an observer set to #document, as in:

  • Part of the document, in which case you set your actions to listen on a XForms control such as a xf:group or an xf:input. Note that in this case, your listener will be called only if a form control (either the one you have specified, or form control inside the one you have specified for container form controls) has the focus when users press the key combination.

  • A dialog, in which case your listener will be called only when users press the key combination while the dialog is open. In this case, the only requirement for the listener to be called is for the dialog to be open; the focus does not necessarily need to be on a form control inside the dialog.

You specify what key stroke you want to listen to with the following two attributes:

  • xxf:text specifies the key you want to listen to. This attribute is mandatory: if you have a ev:event="keypress" on an action, then you need to specify an xxf:text.

  • xxf:modifier specifies what key modifier needs to be pressed in addition to the key. This is a space separated list of values, where the values can be Control, Shift, and Alt. This attribute is optional: leave it out to listener to a key press with no modifier.

Filtering on the event phase

XML Events 1 only supports filtering event handlers on a subset of the DOM Level 2 Events phases. Orbeon Forms extends that behavior and supports registering handlers that match on one of the 3 main event phases specified by DOM Level 2 Events: capture, target, and bubbling.

Orbeon Forms supports the following values for the ev:phase attribute:

  • capture: only activate the handler during the capture phase (this is compatible with all the specifications)

  • default or unspecified: only activate the handler during the target or bubbling phase (this is compatible with XML Events 1 but not included in the current XBL 2 proposal)

  • target: only activate the handler during the target phase (this is not present in XML Events 1)

  • bubbling: only activate the handler during the bubbling phase (this is not present in XML Events 1)

NOTE: In the future, the XBL 2 default action phase could be integrated if considered desirable. It is hoped that the target and bubbling values will be supported in XML Events 2.

NOTE: In most cases, the ev:phase attribute can be omitted, in which case the target or bubbling phase is matched. This allows placing a handler directly within a target element, or any of its ancestors, which are the most common use cases in XForms.

Adding context information to events

Orbeon Forms supports passing event context attributes with the XForms 2.0 <xf:property> child element. The actions supported are actions which directly cause an event to be dispatched:

  • <xf:dispatch>

  • <xf:send>

  • <xxf:show>

  • <xxf:hide>

Here is how you pass context attributes when executing an action:

<xf:dispatch name="rename-control" target="my-model">
<xf:property name="control" value="my/control"/>
<xf:property name="control-name" value="'beverage-selection'"/>

NOTE: Prior to standard XForms support, the <xxf:context> child element was introduced for the same purpose and can still be used for backward compatibility. The select attribute can also be used in place of value.

<xf:property> supports the following two attributes:



Name of the context attribute.



XPath 2.0 expression determining the value of the context attribute.

Note that the context attribute name cannot be a qualified name (QName), because this would not be compatible with DOM 2 Events. However, a QName can be used as custom event name.

In order to avoid confusion with standard XForms names, we recommend you use prefixed names if you use custom context information with standard event names (when supported). However, with custom event names, prefixing is not necessary.

Context attributes passed this way can be retrieved using the event() function:

<xf:action ev:event="rename-control">
<xf:setvalue ref="event('control')/@name" value="event('control-name')"/>

NOTE: At the moment, with, <xf:dispatch>, only custom events support passing context attributes this way. Built-in events, such as xforms-value-changed, or DOMActivate, ignore nested <xf:property> elements.

Allowing duplicate event in the event queue

[SINCE Orbeon Forms 2017.1]

Prior to Orbeon Forms 2017.1, the <xf:dispatch> action used with a delay value would always add all events to the event queue. This was not per the XForms specification, which says that events with the same name and effective target as ones already in the event queue are skipped.

Orbeon Forms 2017.1 rectifies that to follow XForms and skips duplicates. This change of default is usually not a problem.

To allow duplicates, the xxf:allow-duplicates="true" attribute is supported:


xxf:allow-duplicates is an AVT.

Enhanced support for xforms-select and xforms-deselect

[TODO: describe support for these events on xf:upload]

Targeting effective controls within repeat iterations

The following actions all support attributes resolving to a particular control:

  • <xf:dispatch> (target attribute)

  • <xf:setfocus> (control attribute)

  • <xf:toggle> (case attribute)

  • <xxf:show> (neighbor attribute)

When that control is within a repeat iteration, the actual control targetted is chosen based on the current set of repeat indexes. However, in some cases, it is useful to be able to target the control within a particular iteration. This is achieved with the xxf:repeat-indexes extension attribute on these actions. This attribute takes a space-separated list of repeat indexes, starting with the outermost repeat. Example:

<!-- Repeat hierarchy -->
<xf:repeat ref="todo-list">
<xf:repeat ref="todo-item">
<xf:case id="edit-case">...</xf:case>
<xf:case id="view-case">...</xf:case>
<xf:label>Toggle Me!</xf:label>
<!-- Toggle the case within the 5th todo item of the 3rd todo list -->
<xf:toggle ev:event="DOMActivate" case="edit-case" xxf:repeat-indexes="3 5"/>

Multiple event names, observers and targets on event handlers

The ev:event, ev:observer and ev:target attributes, defined by the XML Events specification, only support one event name, observer, or target respectively. Orbeon Forms supports as an extension a list of space-separated values. The behavior is as follows:

  • For ev:event: the handler is called if any of the specified events matches.

    <xf:action ev:event="DOMFocusIn DOMFocusOut">
    <!-- Reacting to either the "DOMFocusIn" and "DOMFocusOut" events -->
  • For ev:observer: the event handler is attached to all the observers specified.

    <xf:action ev:event="DOMActivate" ev:observer="my-input my-trigger">
    <!-- Observing both the "my-input" and "my-trigger" controls -->
  • For ev:target: the handler is called if any of the specified targets matches.

    <xf:action ev:event="xforms-submit-done" ev:target="create-submission update-submission">
    <!-- Checking that either the "create-submission" and "update-submission" controls is a target -->

The extensions above have been requested for inclusion in XML Events 2.

Catching all events

The special #all event name on ev:event can be used to catch all events:

<!-- Stop propagation of all events -->
<xf:action ev:event="#all" ev:propagate="stop"/>

Specifying the current observer as target restriction

The special #observer target name on ev:target can be used to specify that the listener must be activated only if the event target is the listener's observer:

<!-- Restrict activation to events dispatched to the group -->
<xf:action ev:event="my-event" ev:target="#observer"/>

In this example, this is identical to:`

<!-- Restrict activation to events dispatched to the group -->
<xf:action ev:event="my-event" ev:phase="target"/>

Observing the preceding sibling element

The ev:observer attribute can be set to the value #preceding-sibling:

<xf:repeat ref="...">
ev:event="xforms-enabled xforms-disabled xxforms-index-changed xxforms-ref-changed"

In this example, we observe events targeted to the repeat element just before the event handler.

This is useful in situations where it is not possible to explicitly set an id on a control, for example when doing complex things with XBL.

Phantom handlers

Event handler support the xxf:phantom="true" attribute to specify that the event handler is listening to events flowing across XBL scopes.

XForms events flow along XBL boundaries and are fully encapsulated. This attribute allows special consumers of events to have a global view of events flowing in the XForms page. Example:


In this example, the handler will catch events that happen not only in the current XBL scope, but also those in nested XBL scopes.

This is an advanced feature and should be used wisely. It is used in Orbeon Forms by the error summary (fr:error-summary) and by Form Builder.