DIY jQuery

Thursday 10. March 2016

I’m quite fond of simplicity.

Some might think that sounds weird coming from someone who loves ruby on rails, but I’d argue that rails is all about simplicity1. Also ruby is probably the simplest language in the world, with the possible exception of whitespace.

Anyway, I was tinkering with some simple javascript for this blog and since I’m a proclaimed proponent of not shooting sparrows with cannons (to quote a favourite professor of mine) I decided that I wouldn’t include any javascript libraries that I didn’t strictly require.

My first objective was to add target="blank" to links in my blog posts because, like a desperate mother whose children are about to move out, I didn’t want any readers to leave my blog when they clicked on an external link.

Since my posts are written using markdown2 I would need to add the classes through inline HTML, which is a pain, or I could write a liquid template - but that seemed like overkill. Thus javascript seemed like the obvious solution.

In order to access the link nodes in my HTML I needed a way to query the DOM, and jQuery was the obvious candidate. Then I stopped and thought for a moment.

“Wait, do I really need 10 000 lines of javascript to find a collection of DOM elements?”

Well, the answer is obviously no. In fact all I need to find a group of DOM elements is already implemented by all browsers that count, and it’s called querySelectorAll.

So, without further ado, meet my first jQuery replacement:

export default function $ (query) {
  return [];

Pretty impressive, I know.

You might wonder why I need the [].slice function call. It’s due to the fact that querySelectorAll returns a NodeList which is not the same as an array (learned that the hard way). So we need to slice it into one.

I used my fake jQuery like this and felt like a total boss:

import $ from './fquery'

$('article a')
.forEach(el => el.setAttribute('target', 'blank')

It totally worked too.

However, I quickly ran into another problem. I really enjoy using footnotes3, and I didn’t want these links to open their targets in a new window - that would totally ruin the acclaimed footnote experience.

Luckily for me my markdown processor4 adds a class to both the actual footnote reference and its accompanying note, so all I had to do was filter the links based on their class.

$('article a')
.filter(el => el.className.indexOf('footnote') === -1)
.forEach(el => el.setAttribute('target', 'blank')

And now my footnotes were being filtered out of the result - success!

Granted there’s more to jQuery than finding DOM elements (okay, a lot more), so I decided that I’d create a general wrapper class which would implement some of the most common jQuery methods (such as hasClass, data, attr, on etc.) when I needed them.

Turns out they were really simple.

class Wrapper {
  constructor (node) {
    this.node = node;
  hasClass (className) {
    return this.node.className.indexOf(className) > -1;

  attr (name, val) {
    if(val) this.node.setAttribute(name, val);
    return this.node.getAttribute(val);

Most of those implementations are one-liners, and that’s because the DOM element API is actually really good (who knew, right?).

To use this new wrapper class I can simply do this

// fquery.js
import Wrapper from './Wrapper';

function wrap (node) {
  return new Wrapper(node);

export default function $ (query) {
  return  []

// app.js
$('article a')
.filter(el => !el.hasClass('footnote'))
.forEach(el => el.attr('target', 'blank'))

Ah, so amazing.

Just like that I had all the features I needed (for now anyway), and it came at the total cost of 61 LOC. Joy to the world etc.


I eventually decided that I wanted to make all external links open in a new window (regardless if they were in a blog post or not), and this was easily accomplished like so:

.filter(el => el.attr('href').indexOf('http') !== -1)
.forEach(el => el.attr('target', 'blank'))

  1. Which I’ll definitively write about, eventually. Promise. 

  2. jekyll for life, amirite. 

  3. Meta, I know. 

  4. I use kramdown