Building interactive elements with HTML and javascript: Interact.js + drag-drop

In a few of the past blog posts, we saw about implementing drag-drop and resizing with HTML and javascript. The functionality was pretty basic with a simple drag-and-drop and resizing. That is where, a javascript library called as interact.js comes in.

interact.js is a lightweight, standalone JavaScript module for handling single-pointer and multi-touch drags and gestures with powerful features including inertia and snapping.

With Interact.js, building interactive elements is like a eating a piece of your favorite cake - that easy !

Getting started with Interact.js

You have multiple option to include the library in your project.

  • You can use bower to install (bower install interact) (or)
  • npm (npm install interact.js) (or)
  • You could directly include the library from a CDN (
Implementing a simple draggable

Let's start with some basic markup. We'll be using the draggable class to enable interact.js on this element.

<div id="box-one" class="draggable">  
  <p> I am the first Box </p>
<div id="box-two" class="draggable">  
    <p> I am the second Box </p>

The first step in using interact.js is to create an interact instance. Which you can create by using interact('<the selector>'). Once the instance is created, you'll have to call the draggable method on it to enable drag. Draggable accepts a javascript object with some configuration options and some pretty useful callbacks.

// target elements with the "draggable" class
    // enable inertial throwing
    inertia: true,
    // keep the element within the area of it's parent
    restrict: {
      restriction: "parent",
      endOnly: true,
      elementRect: { top: 0, left: 0, bottom: 1, right: 1 }
    // enable autoScroll
    autoScroll: true,
    // call this function on every dragmove event
    onmove: dragMoveListener,

  function dragMoveListener (event) {
    var target =,
        // keep the dragged position in the data-x/data-y attributes
        x = (parseFloat(target.getAttribute('data-x')) || 0) + event.dx,
        y = (parseFloat(target.getAttribute('data-y')) || 0) + event.dy;

    // translate the element = =
      'translate(' + x + 'px, ' + y + 'px)';

    // update the posiion attributes
    target.setAttribute('data-x', x);
    target.setAttribute('data-y', y);

Here we use the onmove event to move the box according to the dx and dy provided by interact when the element is dragged.

Implementing a simple drag-drop

Now to the above draggable, we'll add a drop zone into which the two draggable boxes can be dropped.

<div id="dropzone" class="dropzone">You can drop the boxes here</div>  

Similar to a draggable, we first create an interact instance. Then we call the dropzone method on to tell interact that, that div is to be considered as a dropzone. The dropzone method accepts a json object with configuration options and callbacks.

// enable draggables to be dropped into this
  // Require a 50% element overlap for a drop to be possible
  overlap: 0.50,

  // listen for drop related events:

  ondropactivate: function (event) {
    // add active dropzone feedback'drop-active');
  ondragenter: function (event) {
    var draggableElement = event.relatedTarget,
        dropzoneElement =;

    // feedback the possibility of a drop
  ondragleave: function (event) {
    // remove the drop feedback style'drop-target');
  ondrop: function (event) {
    event.relatedTarget.textContent = 'Dropped';
  ondropdeactivate: function (event) {
    // remove active dropzone feedback'drop-active');'drop-target');

Each event provides two important properties. relatedTarget which gives us the DOM object of the draggable that is being dragged. And target which gives us the DOM object of the dropzone. We can use this to provide visual feedback for the user when he/she is dragging.