Event Listener

Events are messages that are sent from one object to another. The component sending the event (aka firing the event) is the producer, the component receiving the event (aka handling the event) is the consumer. The producer of an event should have the ability to add and delete listeners for the events produced by itself.

In short, a predefined method of the listener is invoked by the producer when an event is fired.

Applicability / Uses

The Event Listener pattern is commonly used in the Java-Libraries, especially within AWT (java.awt.*) and SWING (javax.swing.*). Handling User-Interactions, such as clicking on a button, is realized through Events and Event-Listeners

Related Patterns

  • Observer: The Event Listener pattern is a special flavor of the Observer pattern
  • Delegation: Event Listeners usually use delegation to accomplish their tasks.


UML diagram of the sample code:

UML diagram of the code shown below.


In this example we will create a new JFrame, containing a single Button. When the user presses the button, the window-title will change.

public class TestGUIEvents extends JFrame {

  int clickCount;

  public TestGUIEvents() {
    clickCount = 0;
    setTitle("Click-Count: " + clickCount);
    JButton button = new JButton("Click me!");
    button.addActionListener(new ButtonListener());

  public static void main(String[] args) {
    new TestGUIEvents().setVisible(true);               

  protected class ButtonListener implements ActionListener {
    public void actionPerformed(ActionEvent arg0) {
      setTitle("Click-Count: " + clickCount);