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Adding Interactivity

This article discusses interacting with data (i.e. selecting, or picking objects). Viewport controls (panning, zooming etc) are discussed in Controllers.

Overview includes a powerful picking engine that enables the application to precisely determine what object and layer is rendered on a certain pixel on the screen. This picking engine can either be called directly by an application (which is then typically implementing its own event handling), or it can be called automatically by the basic built-in event handling in

What can be Picked?

The "picking engine" identifies which object in which layer is at the given coordinates. While usually intuitive, what constitutes a pickable "object" is defined by each layer. Typically, it corresponds to one of the data entries that is passed in via For example, in Scatterplot Layer, an object is an element in the array that is used to render one circle. In GeoJson Layer, an object is a GeoJSON feature in the feature collection that is used to render one point, path or polygon.

Enabling Picking

Picking can be enabled or disabled on a layer-by-layer basis. To enable picking on a layer, set its pickable prop to true. This value is false by default.

The Picking Info Object

The picking engine returns "picking info" objects which contains a variety of fields describing what layer and object was picked.

layerThe layer that the picked object belongs to. Only layers with the pickable prop set to true can be picked.
indexThe index of the object in the layer that was picked.
objectThe object that was picked. This is typically an entry in the layer's array, but can vary from layer to layer.
xMouse position x relative to the viewport.
yMouse position y relative to the viewport.
coordinateMouse position in geospatial coordinates. Only applies if layer.props.coordinateSystem is a geospatial mode such as COORDINATE_SYSTEM.LNGLAT.

Specific Layers may add additional fields to the picking info object. Check the documentation of each layer.

Example: Display a Tooltip for Hovered Object

Using the Built-In Tooltip

Deck automatically renders a tooltip if the getTooltip callback is supplied:

import {Deck} from '';
import {ScatterplotLayer} from '';

const deck = new Deck({
  canvas: 'deck-canvas',
  initialViewState: {longitude: -122.45, latitude: 37.78, zoom: 12},
  controller: true,
  layers: [
    new ScatterplotLayer({
      data: [
        {position: [-122.45, 37.78], message: 'Hover over me'}
      getPosition: d => d.position,
      getRadius: 1000,
      getFillColor: [255, 255, 0],
      // Enable picking
      pickable: true,
      // Update tooltip
      onHover: info => setTooltip(info.object, info.x, info.y)
  getTooltip: ({object}) => object && object.message

It receives a picking info object and returns the content of the tooltip. To custom the tooltip further, return an object instead:

  getTooltip: ({object}) => object && {
    html: `<h2>${}</h2><div>${object.message}</div>`,
    style: {
      backgroundColor: '#f00',
      fontSize: '0.8em'

For a range of options, see getTooltip documentation.

Using React

import React, {useState} from 'react';
import {DeckGL, ScatterplotLayer} from '';

const data = [
  {position: [-122.45, 37.78], message: 'Hover over me'}

function App() {
  const [hoverInfo, setHoverInfo] = useState;

  const layers = [
    new ScatterplotLayer({
      getPosition: d => d.position,
      getRadius: 1000,
      getFillColor: [255, 255, 0],
      // Enable picking
      pickable: true,
      // Update app state
      onHover: info => setHoverInfo(info)

  return (
    <DeckGL initialViewState={{longitude: -122.45, latitude: 27.78, zoom: 12}}
        layers={layers} >
      {hoverInfo.object && (
        <div style={{position: 'absolute', zIndex: 1, pointerEvents: 'none', left: hoverInfo.x, top: hoverInfo.y}}>
          { hoverInfo.object.message }

Calling the Picking Engine Directly

The picking engine is exposed through the Deck.pickObject and Deck.pickObjects methods. These methods allow you to query what layers and objects within those layers are under a specific point or within a specified rectangle. They return Picking Info objects as described below.

pickObject allows an application to define its own event handling. When it comes to how to actually do event handling in a browser, there are many options. In a React application, perhaps the simplest is to just use React's "synthetic" event handling together with pickObject:

import React, {useRef, useCallback} from 'react';

function App() {
  const deckRef = useRef(null);

  const onClick = useCallback(event => {
    const pickInfo = deckRef.current.pickObject({
      x: event.clientX,
      y: event.clientY,
      radius: 1
  }, [])

  return (
    <div onClick={onClick}>
      <DeckGL ref={deckRef} ... />

Also note that by directly calling queryObject, integrating into an existing application often becomes easier since you don't have to change the application's existing approach to event handling.

Using the Built-in Event-Handling

For applications that have basic event handling needs, has built-in support for handling selected pointer events. When the application registers callbacks, automatically tracks these events, runs the picking engine and calls application callbacks with a single parameter info which contains the resulting picking info object.

The following event handlers are supported:

  • onHover
  • onClick
  • onDragStart
  • onDrag
  • onDragEnd

A event handler function is called with two parameters: info that contains the object being interacted with, and event that contains the pointer event.

There are two ways to subscribe to the built-in picking event handling:

const layer = new ScatterplotLayer({
    pickable: true,
    onHover: (info, event) => console.log('Hovered:', info, event),
    onClick: (info, event) => console.log('Clicked:', info, event)

Behavior of Built-in Event Handling

Picking events are triggered based on pickable objects:

  • A click event is triggered every time the pointer clicked on an object in a pickable layer.
  • A hover event is triggered every time the hovered object of a pickable layer changes.

When an event is fired, the onHover or onClick callback of the affected layer is called first. If the callback returns a truthy value, the event is marked as handled. Otherwise, the event will bubble up to the DeckGL canvas and be visible to its onHover and onClick callbacks.

Under The Hood

If you are using the core layers, all has been taken care of.

If you are implementing a custom layer, read more about how picking is implemented.