WDI Fundamentals

WDI Fundamentals Unit 11

The DOM Cheat Sheet

Here are some notes on what's been covered in this chapter. Feel free to copy this and extend it to make your own cheat sheet.


The browser pulls in HTML documents, parses them, and creates object models of the pages in its memory. This model is the Document Object Model (DOM).

DOM Node

Each element in the HTML document is represented by a DOM node. These nodes can be accessed and changed using JavaScript.

When the model is updated, those changes are reflected on screen.

Accessing Elements

Before we can update a page, we need to find, or select, the element(s) that we want to update. In order to find an element, we need to search through the document. The syntax for the search looks something like this:

  • Here are the methods that can be used to select an element or elements:
Method Description
getElementById() Selects an individual element within a document using a specific id
querySelector() Uses CSS selector to select the first matching element within a document
getElementsByClassName() Allows you to select all elements with a given class attribute
getElementsByTagName() Locates all elements that match a given tag name
querySelectorAll() Uses CSS selector to select one or more elements


If we'd like to work with that element multiple times, a variable should be used to store, or cache, the results of our query.

var sidebar = document.getElementById('sidebar');

Traversing the DOM

The process of selecting another element based on its relationship to a previously selected element.

Property Description
parentNode Locates the parent element of an initial selection
previousSibling Finds the previous sibling of a selected element
nextSibling Finds the next sibling of a selected element
firstChild Finds the first child of a selected element
  • The syntax for using these properties looks like this:


A NodeList is a list of node objects numbered similarly to arrays.

To locate the fourth item in this nodeList:


Accessing and Updating Content

The innerHTML and textContent properties can be used to access or update content:

Property Description
innerHTML Get or set the HTML content of an element.
textContent Get or set the text content of an element.

The syntax for getting content looks like this:

var firstListItem = document.querySelector('li').innerHTML;
// Remember, `querySelector()` selects the first element that matches the provided selector.

The syntax for updating content looks like this:

document.querySelector('li').innerHTML = 'Email <a href="mom@gmail.com">Mom</a>.';

Adding Content

To add new elements to the page, we'll need to use a three step process:

  1. We will use the createElement() method to create a new element, which can then be added to the page. When this node is created, it will be empty. This element will be stored in a variable.
  2. Next we will add content to the element using the innerHTML or textContent properties.
  3. Now that our element has been created, we can add it as a child of an element using the appendChild() method. This will add an element as the last child of the parent element.

To add a sixth item to our list we can execute the following code:

// First up, let's create a new list item and store it in a variable.
var newListItem = document.createElement('li');

// Now let's update the text content of that list item.
newListItem.textContent = 'Jalapenos';

// And finally, let's add that list item as a child of the ul.

Getting and Setting Attributes

Property Description
className Change the value of the class attribute for an element
document.getElementById('important').className = 'highlight';
Method Description
setAttribute() Sets an attribute of an element
removeAttribute() Removes an attribute from an element
document.getElementsByTagName('a')[0].setAttribute('href', 'http://newurl.com');


Actions taken by a user that can trigger updates in the DOM.

For example, when a user clicks on a website’s menu icon, a sidebar menu should slide out from the side of the page. Or, if the user has typed an incorrect format into a form field, the field should become outlined in red.

Event Handler

We can set up event handlers in our scripts that will listen, or wait, for an event to occur and then trigger a function.

The syntax for setting up an event handler looks like this:

element.addEventListener('nameOfEvent', functionToRun);

Types of Events

There are many events that can trigger a function. Here are a few:

Event Description
'click' When a button (usually a mouse button) is pressed and released on a single element.
'keydown' When the user first presses a key on the keyboard.
'keyup' When the user releases a key on the keyboard.
'focus' When an element has received focus.
'blur' When an element loses focus.
'submit' When the user submits a form.
'load' When the page has finished loading.
'resize' When the browser window has been resized.
'scroll' When the user scrolls up or down on the page.



A term used in event handling functions to refer to the specific object with which the user interacted.

Let's put this into practice!