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Climbing down the DOM with vanilla JavaScript

A few weeks ago, I published a series of articles on how to climb up the DOM and get elements with specific selectors using vanilla JavaScript.

On Twitter, Kabolobari asked me how to climb down the DOM.

Climbing down the DOM with vanilla JavaScript is much easier than climbing up. Let’s look at how to do it!

Matching by selector

The querySelector() and querySelectorAll methods are typically used on the document to get all matching elements on a page.

var elem = document.querySelectorAll('.some-selector');

But, you can also use them to search within a particular element rather than just the whole document. You can, for example, find an element with the .pick-me class, and then search within that element to find another element with the .and-me class.

var pickMe = document.querySelector('.pick-me');
var andMe = pickMe.querySelector('.and-me');

This will only look for .and-me inside your .pick-me element.

You can similarly use querySelectorAll() to get all matching elements inside the element.

var pickMe = document.querySelector('.pick-me');
var meToo = pickMe.querySelectorAll('.me-too');

Only match direct decendants

The querySelector() and querySelectorAll methods search within all sub-elements of the parent element.

<div class="parent">
	<div class="sub-element-1">...</div>
	<div class="sub-element-2">
		<div class="sub-element-2a">...</div>
		<div class="sub-element-2b">...</div>
	<div class="sub-element-3">...</div>

In the example above, if you used querySelector() or querySelectorAll on the .parent element, they would search all the way down into .sub-element-2a and .sub-element-2b.

If you only want to search direct descendants, you can use the .childNodes property.

var parent = document.querySelector('.parent');
var directDecendants = parent.childNodes;

That would only return .sub-element-1, .sub-element-2, and .sub-element-3.