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Abstracting a vanilla JS autocomplete component

Yesterday, we wrote a simple progressively enhanced autocomplete component using the datalist element and some vanilla JS. Today, I wanted to look at how to abstract it to work with multiple components and endpoints.

Let’s dig in!

(You should go read yesterday’s article first, if you haven’t already, or this one won’t make much sense.)

Updating the HTML

First, I don’t want to hard code the endpoint for my data into the JavaScript.

I’ll add a [data-autocomplete] attribute to my autocomplete field, and set the endpoint for its data as its value.

<label for="wizards">Who is the best wizard?</label>
<input type="text" id="wizards" data-autocomplete="">

Updating the JavaScript

Instead of getting a specific field, I’ll use document.querySelectorAll() to get all fields with the [data-autocomplete] attribute.

// Get the autocomplete fields
let fields = document.querySelectorAll('[data-autocomplete]');

Then, I’ll loop through each field, fetch its data, and progressively enhanced it just like we did yesterday. I’ll need to also pass the field in to renderDatalist() as an argument.

// Loop through each field
for (let field of fields) {

	// Get the endpoint
	let endpoint = field.getAttribute('data-autocomplete');

	// Fetch the data and render the datalist element
	fetch(endpoint).then(function (response) {
		if (response.ok) {
			return response.json();
		throw response;
	}).then(function (data) {
		renderDatalist(data, field);
	}).catch(function (error) {


Inside the renderDatalist() method, we need to abstract a few more things.

First, we’ll use the as part of the value instead of just hard-coding it as wizards-data. We’ll also replace the wizards field variable with the field.

And in the for...of loop, we’ll change wizard to item.

 * Create and render the datalist element
 * @param {Array} data  The data to use for the list
 * @param {Node}  field The field to associate the datalist with
function renderDatalist (data, field) {

	// Create the datalist element
	let datalist = document.createElement('datalist'); = `${}-data`;

	// Create fragment for option elements
	let fragment = document.createDocumentFragment();

	// Create list options
	for (let item of data) {
		let option = document.createElement('option');
		option.textContent = item;

	// Add options to datalist

	// Inject into the DOM


Now, we can add multiple elements to the page, and progressively enhance each into its own autocomplete component with its own endpoint.

Here’s a demo.