JavaScript get HTML elements from a string

I recently had a string with some content from a WYSIWYG editor (What you see is what you get). In there, I needed to find all the href elements.

But this specific approach can work for many things.

My approach consists of using the DOMParser, one could also use a regex approach to finding all the links in a text, but I needed an HTML output back again, so for me, this worked best.

Using JavaScript to get HTML elements from a string

To get started, let's first define our HTML. We will be using a variable, which you can consider came from our CMS.

const text = `<p>Some text</p><br /><a href="https://daily-dev-tips.com/">My website</a><hr /><a href="https://google.com">Another link</a>`;

As you can see, we have two links in there. Let's say we want to parse each link to add a target="_blank".

We can leverage the DOMParser to convert this string into a dom element.

let parser = new DOMParser();
const doc = parser.parseFromString(text, 'text/html');
console.log(doc);

This console.log will return the following object.

DOMParser result

As you can see, this is a full document.

To get all the links, we can use regular queries on this doc const.

links = doc.getElementsByTagName('a');
console.log(links);

// HTMLCollection(2) [a, a]

Nice, we got our two links. We can loop over these two links and manipulate them. This will be adjusted in our doc variable.

[...links].forEach(link => {
  link.setAttribute('target', '_blank');
});

Here we loop over the getElementsByTagName results, and set the target to a blank page.

Now, if we would log the current status:

console.log(doc);

We get the following result. You can see the links now have a target blank.

Screenshot 2020-12-17 at 08.18.41.png

Using the output of a JavaScript DOMParser

Let's also take some time to output the changes to see them in the HTML action.

Let's add two divs to our HTML.

<div id="original"></div>
<div id="output"></div>

First, we have our basic text variable.

const text = `<p>Some text</p><br /><a href="https://daily-dev-tips.com/">My website</a><hr /><a href="https://google.com">Another link</a>`;

Next, we will get the two div elements.

const original = document.getElementById('original');
const output = document.getElementById('output');

For the original one, we can immediately add the output as-is.

original.innerHTML = text;

And for the output one, we do our modifications as seen above.

let parser = new DOMParser();
const doc = parser.parseFromString(text, 'text/html');

links = doc.getElementsByTagName('a');
console.log(links);
[...links].forEach(link => {
  link.setAttribute('target', '_blank');
});

output.innerHTML = doc.documentElement.innerHTML;

That's it. We now have two divs, one with links that open in the same tab and open in a blank tab.

Try it out using the following Codepen.

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