Elixir: intercepting Phoenix LiveView events in JavaScript

November 5, 2021

Recently, I was dealing with a Phoenix LiveView where I wanted to intercept some events from the LiveSocket to take specific action in JavaScript.

Typically, I wanted to know when a form was done being submitted and processed by the backend even if that event didn’t trigger a DOM change.

The use case

To give the context, I have a <span> that is transformed to a <form> on click. For reactivity, this is done in JavaScript. When the form is submitted, it triggers a Phoenix event that might or might not update the DOM.

I don’t want to reset the state back to the <span> on submission, because it would temporarily show the old text until the update is processed by the backend and the DOM is updated, which causes a quick text flash.

In the happy path where the form submission triggers a DOM update Phoenix resets the DOM to the <span> and everything is good, but if we just added a bunch of spaces to the existing text and the backend decides to trim the value, Phoenix is smart enough to notice that since the input state didn’t change, it doesn’t need to update the DOM. This is great, except it leaves us with the open <form> even if the submission was handled successfully.

To deal with this, I wanted a way to tell from JavaScript when the form submission was completed so that I can make sure to reset the <span> only then (to avoid the quick text flash mentioned earlier).

Using Phoenix LiveView hooks?

The first thing I thought about was to use LiveView hooks as documented in JavaScript interoperability.

import { Socket } from 'phoenix'
import { LiveSocket } from 'phoenix_live_view'

const csrfToken = document.querySelector("meta[name='csrf-token']").getAttribute('content')

const liveSocket = new LiveSocket('/live', Socket, {
  params: { _csrf_token: csrfToken },
  hooks: {
    ElementUpdated: {
      updated (e) {
        this.el.dispatchEvent(new CustomEvent('phx:element-updated'))


By adding phx-hook="ElementUpdated" on the elements we want to get notified for updates, we trigger the hook we defined, which here dispatches a custom phx:element-updated on the node. This allows us to handle that event at the node level instead of trying to handle every single case directly from the hook, which is very nice and decoupled if you ask me.

For example you could now do:

someElement.addEventListener('phx:element-updated', () => {
  // Deal with the fact this element got updated!

Sadly, this didn’t work for me because the updated hook only fires when the element is… updated, which is not the case if the form submission completes but doesn’t result in a state change. Bummer.

Leveraging the phx:page-loading-stop window event

This is the easiest solution. Unlike the one I talk about after, it doesn’t give any granularity on the kind of event that was sent or received, but it’s very easy to implement.

In my case, I use Alpine so my code looks something like this:

<div x-data="{ edit: false }" @click="edit = true" @click.outside="edit = false" @phx:page-loading-stop.window="edit = false">
  <span x-show="!edit"><!-- ... --></span>
  <form x-show="edit" phx-submit="edit_whatever"><!-- ... --></form>
  <!-- ... -->

We start with a state of edit: false. When that element is clicked, we switch the <span> to a <form> to let the user edit it. On submission, if the DOM is refreshed, Phoenix will reset the state anyways and we’re back to the <span>, but if it’s not (e.g. input not modified), we can still handle the page-loading-stop event to go back to <span> mode. Sweet!

Note: if you don’t use Alpine, you can just listen to the phx:page-loading-stop event on the window object:

addEventListener('phx:page-loading-stop', () => {
  // Your code here!

Monkey patching the LiveSocket 🙈

Oh yeah, we love monkey patching. If you use Phoenix LiveView your code should look something like this (I left alone the Alpine part because it’s not relevant to this example).

import { Socket } from 'phoenix'
import { LiveSocket } from 'phoenix_live_view'

const csrfToken = document.querySelector("meta[name='csrf-token']").getAttribute('content')

const liveSocket = new LiveSocket('/live', Socket, {
  params: { _csrf_token: csrfToken }


From there, we can intercept the push method on the LiveSocket channel. That will in turn allow us to add an event handler to the receive event for a given push, so that we can not only get the full response from Phoenix, but can also tell from what event it originated!

const channel = Object.values(liveSocket.roots)[0].channel
const pushImpl = channel.push

channel.push = function wrappedPush (event, payload, timeout) {
  const push = pushImpl.call(this, event, payload, timeout)

  push.receive('ok', resp => {
    console.log(event, payload, resp)

  return push

In the case of my <form> example earlier, event is set to the string event, resp would contain a diff object that really only makes sense to Phoenix (or be an empty object if nothing was updated), and the payload would look something like this:

  "type": "form",
  "event": "edit_whatever",
  "value": "URL encoded string of the form elements"

This gives pretty useful informations that can allow to hook to LiveView events in a much more granular manner!

While I didn’t end up needing that method, I found this trick during my numerous attempts at dealing with that issue and I found it would be pretty useful to documented as it’s pretty easy to implement and I didn’t find anything similar online.

Further reading

If you enjoy reading about this topic, I encourage you to read those two articles I stumbled upon during my research on this subject.

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