Respond to a button click with an observable

A recipe for responding to a button click with an RxJS Observable.


<script> src=""></script>

<button>Click me</button>


var button = document.querySelector('button');

Rx.Observable.fromEvent(button, 'click').
        (value) => console.log(value.clientX) // just for example, log the x position of the cursor

The observable is created by the operator, fromEvent, which takes an “element” and an event name as parameters. It will listens for events of that name (i.e. ‘click’) taking place on that element. It returns an Observable that emits those events. An “element” may be a simple DOM element, or a NodeList, jQuery element, Zepto Element, Angular element, Ember.js element, or EventEmitter. This operator also takes an optional third parameter: a function that accepts the arguments from the event handler as parameters and returns an item to be emitted by the resulting Observable in place of the event.

Alternative importing

If you’re using a JavaScript modules approach (such as with TypeScript),  you could do something like the following instead of using the <script> element for importing as shown above.

import { Observable } from 'rxjs/Observable';
import 'rxjs/add/operator/map';
import 'rxjs/add/observable/of';
// import 'rxjs/add/operator/switchMap';
// etc., etc...

// or, you could just more conventiently grab the whole package, but this may not be efficient without Tree Shaking, so I'd recommend the approach above
// import 'rxjs/Rx';

Creating your own observer

Alternatively, you could create your on observer to listen to the click event. Since RxJS provides the fromEvent operator, this is unnecessary. However, showing how this could be done provides a good example of how to create your own observers without use of the RxJS operators.


var button = document.querySelector('button');

var observer = {
    next: function(value) {
    // In reality, the error and complete functions below would never be
    // called for a button click event, but this shows the basic structure
    // of an Observable; generally implementing the three functions: next, error, and complete...
    error: function (error) {
    complete: function() {

Rx.Observable.fromEvent(button, 'click').