Rive Blog

Introduction to Listeners

Design pointer interactions without code


Monday, June 20, 2022

If you've played with the State Machine, you already know about its ability to build interactive content. Designers and developers can use Inputs and Transitions to link animations together. However, there's still some runtime code required to trigger the Input changes in your product, website, app, or game.

With the release of Listeners, we've simplified this process by allowing you to hook up on-hover and on-click events directly in the Rive editor. Designers and animators define these interactions at design time, and at runtime, they work!

In this post, we'll look at Listeners, how you can add them to your file, and their impact on implementation.


Listeners give us a way to have our Inputs "listen" for user actions in an artboard. This allows us to preview our content by interacting with it on the stage.

Additionally, listeners simplify the implementation of on-click and on-hover interactions. Combine listeners with our share links and you can create interactive content for blogs and websites without knowing any code (like me)!

Anatomy of a Listener

Listeners are made up of 3 parts:

  • Target

  • Listener type

  • Input

The Target tells the listener which object to "listen" to. Listeners can target any object on the stage, but we recommend using shapes with no fill as a hitbox.

The listener type tells the listener what action it is "listening" for. we currently support the following listener types:

  • Pointer down - click/tap down on the target

  • Pointer up - click/tap release of the target

  • Pointer enter - pointer hovers over target

  • Pointer exit - pointer exits target

The input defines which input fires when the predefined user action happens on the target. We can fire triggers, set booleans to true or false, or change a number value. With this set of listener types alone, we can create many types of interactions like the ones below.

Getting started

In this example, we'll create a simple state machine, then add some listeners to turn this static icon into a playful experience.

Create the State Machine

Drag the Idle and Hovered animations onto the graph.

Create transitions

Create boolean and rename it isHovered

Configure transitions

At this point, we can test the State Machine out and ensure that our interaction is functioning correctly. If you're satisfied, we can move on to adding the listener.

Add Listeners

Add a procedural shape and remove the fill. We'll use this as our hitbox.

Add a new listener from the listener's tab.

Hit the target button and select the new shape in the hierarchy.

The listener type is already set to pointer enter, so we don’t need to change anything here.

Select the isHovered input and set it to true.

Add a new listener.

Hit the target button and select the new shape as the target.

Select the pointer exit listener type.

Select the isHovered input and set it to false.

Now when we play the state machine, we can hover the icon and you'll notice the hovered animation plays. When our cursor moves outside of the icon, the idle animation plays. Our asset is now ready to be implemented into our app, website, game, or shared on social media.

Impact on implementation

Coding impact

While Listeners don't completely remove the need for code, they do reduce the code needed to make simple interactions work. Simply load the .riv file into your project, create the Rive instance with the appropriate artboard and state machine name, and that’s it! The interactions defined at design-time will propagate as expected at runtime.

Share links

Share links are a great way to share your work internally or with a client, but they also allow you to embed your files into your favorite apps like Twitter, Notion, Webflow, or blogs such as this one! We also recently announced a custom Framer integration, be sure to check that out!

Follow this link if you’d like to learn more about it!

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