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Handling User Input

In order to allow users to interact with your app, you will want to capture and handle user input. If you are developing a TV based app this will often be key input via a remote control.

Blits offers an intuitive and straightforward interface to handle key input in Components.


Before diving into the specifics of key handling, it is important to understand the basic concept of focus.

In a Blits app, there is always one Component that has the focus. By default, this will be the root Application component.

The component that has focus, is the one that is responsible for handling the user input at that moment.

For example, when a user clicks the right or left button while a Poster Component has focus, it is that instance of the Poster Component that will receive the first key press event.

Configuring Input Handling

Within the Component configuration object, the input key is used to define how the component should react to specific key presses when it has focus. The input key should be an object literal of functions for each input event that the component wants to handle.

Each function corresponds to a key press name, such as up, down, enter, space, back, 1, 2, a etc and each function defined in the input object, receives the full InputEvent object as its first argument.

export default Blits.Component('MyComponent', {
  // ...
  input: {
    up(e) {
      // Logic to execute when users press up
    down(e) {
      // Logic to execute when users press down
    enter(e) {
      // Logic to execute when users press enter

Catch-All Handling

To allow a focused component to respond to any key and act as a catch-all, you can add an any() function to the input object. As it receives the InputEvent object as the first argument, you can abstract the key press in there and handle (or ignore) it as you wish.

  input: {
    any(e) {
      // Logic to execute for any key press

Event Handling Chain

If the currently focused component does not handle a key press, Blits will traverse up the component hierarchy, checking for any parent component that does have a function defined for that key press in the input-key. This input event handling chain continues until it reaches the root Application component.

When a component handles a key press by having a corresponding function specified, said component receives focus, and the event handling chain stops by default. However, if you want the input event to propagate up the hierarchy further, you can move the focus to the parent element and pass the InputEvent object on in that function call.

  input: {
    enter() {
      // Give focus to the parent
    back(e) {
      // Give focus to the parent and let the user input event bubble

Custom Keycode mapping

Blits comes with a default keycode mapping. This mapping is a sensible default that works in your desktop browser and with most RDK based devices.

But it's possible that the keycodes and mapping of your target device are slightly or even completely different.

In Blits, you can easily configure the key mapping to match your needs. In the src/index.js file where we instantiate the App via the Blits.Launch function, we can add an extra key, called keys, to the settings object.

The keys item should be an object literal, where you map a key or keyCode (from the KeyboardEvent) to an event name that you can use in your Components.

You can use a site like to find the appropriate key and keyCode for your device

// src/index.js
Blits.Launch(App, 'app', {
  w: 1920,
  h: 1080,
  keys: {
    // switch left and right using the key
    ArrowLeft: 'right',
    ArrowRight: 'left',
    // switch up and down using the keyCode
    38: 'down',
    40: 'up',
    // register new handlers
    '.': 'dot', // dot() can now be used in the input object
    // key code for letter 's'
    83: 'search' // search() can now be used in the input object

The custom keys object will be merged with the default key mapping, that looks like this:

const defaultKeyMap = {
  ArrowLeft: 'left',
  ArrowRight: 'right',
  ArrowUp: 'up',
  ArrowDown: 'down',
  Enter: 'enter',
  ' ': 'space',
  Backspace: 'back',
  Escape: 'escape',
  37: 'left',
  39: 'right',
  38: 'up',
  40: 'down',
  13: 'enter',
  32: 'space',
  8: 'back',
  27: 'escape',