Drag and Drop API

The Drag and Drop API allows developers to create interactive web applications that support dragging and dropping of elements. This API simplifies the implementation of intuitive user interfaces by providing a set of events and methods to handle drag and drop operations. Developers can enable drag and drop functionality for elements, such as images, files, or text, within web pages. By leveraging the Drag and Drop API, developers can enhance user experience and enable users to perform actions like rearranging items, uploading files, or creating personalized content.

Enabling Drag and Drop

To enable drag and drop functionality, you need to define draggable elements and drop targets. An element is made draggable by setting the draggable attribute to true. Here's an example:

<!-- HTML -->
<div draggable="true">
  Drag me!

In the example above, the div element can now be dragged by the user. However, it won't do anything when dropped because we haven't defined any drop targets yet.

Defining Drop Targets

A drop target is an element where draggable elements can be dropped. To define a drop target, you need to handle the drag events and specify the behavior when an element is dropped. The most commonly used events are dragover, dragenter, and drop.

<!-- HTML -->
<div id="drop-target">
  Drop here!

<!-- JavaScript -->
document.getElementById("drop-target").addEventListener("dragover", function(event) {

document.getElementById("drop-target").addEventListener("dragenter", function(event) {
  // Apply styles to indicate a valid drop target

document.getElementById("drop-target").addEventListener("dragleave", function(event) {
  // Remove styles when the draggable element is no longer over the drop target

document.getElementById("drop-target").addEventListener("drop", function(event) {
  // Handle the dropped element
  var data = event.dataTransfer.getData("text");
  this.innerText = data;

In the example above, we have a div element with the id "drop-target" that serves as the drop target. The dragover event is used to prevent the default behavior of the browser when an element is dragged over the drop target. The dragenter event is used to apply styles to indicate a valid drop target. The dragleave event is used to remove the styles when the draggable element is no longer over the drop target. Finally, the drop event is used to handle the dropped element. In this case, we extract the data from the event and update the text of the drop target with it.

Drag Events

The Drag and Drop API provides several events that allow you to handle different stages of the drag and drop process. Here are some of the commonly used events:

By listening to these events and applying appropriate event handlers, you can control the behavior of your drag and drop functionality.

Accessing Dragged Data

When an element is dragged, you can access the data associated with it through the dataTransfer object. The dataTransfer object provides methods to set and retrieve data during the drag and drop operation. The most commonly used methods are setData() and getData().

<!-- JavaScript -->
document.getElementById("drag-element").addEventListener("dragstart", function(event) {
  event.dataTransfer.setData("text", event.target.innerText);

In the example above, the dragstart event handler sets the data to be transferred using the setData() method. In this case, we are setting the data as plain text using the "text" format and passing the text content of the dragged element as the data.

Customizing Drag Feedback

The Drag and Drop API allows you to customize the visual feedback during a drag operation. You can modify the appearance of the dragged element by applying styles or creating a custom drag image.

<!-- CSS -->
.draggable {
  cursor: move;
  /* Add other styles to customize the appearance */

/* JavaScript */
document.getElementById("drag-element").addEventListener("dragstart", function(event) {
  // Apply styles to the dragged element

  // Set a custom drag image
  var img = new Image();
  img.src = "drag-image.png";
  event.dataTransfer.setDragImage(img, 0, 0);

document.getElementById("drag-element").addEventListener("dragend", function(event) {
  // Remove the styles from the dragged element

In the example above, we add a CSS class "draggable" to the dragged element during the dragstart event to customize its appearance. Additionally, we set a custom drag image using the setDragImage() method, which displays the "drag-image.png" image as the drag image. Finally, during the dragend event, we remove the "draggable" class from the dragged element to revert its appearance back to normal.


The Drag and Drop API is a powerful tool that allows developers to create interactive web applications with drag and drop functionality. By enabling users to drag and drop elements within a web page, developers can enhance the user experience and enable a wide range of actions, such as rearranging items, uploading files, or creating personalized content. The Drag and Drop API provides a set of events and methods to handle drag and drop operations, making it easy to implement intuitive and engaging user interfaces.

In the next section, we will explore the Local Storage and Session Storage APIs, which provide a way to store data on the client-side and persist it between sessions.