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Siblings in the DOM-tree

I have been working a lot with list elements lately and thought I would share a fix I just wrote to find the siblings of an element. Siblings that not are text nodes that is.

Both Firefox and Safari return blank TextNodes from the DOM-tree when previousSibling and nextSibling are being used. This is caused by the nice indentations and spacing that are added for readability.

The fix is simple and I think it should be added to, for example Prototype's Element object.

var Sibling = function() {};
Sibling.previous = function(elm) {
   var s = elm.previousSibling;
   while (s && s.nodeType == 3)
      s = s.previousSibling;
   return s;
} = function(elm) {
   var s = elm.nextSibling;
   while (s && s.nodeType == 3)
      s = s.nextSibling;
   return s;	

To get the previous sibling of your element elm you do this:

var sibling = Sibling.previous(elm);

And in the same manner, you can get the next sibling:

var sibling =;

If the sibling does not exist, null is returned. This code is only tested in Safari and Firefox OS X (at the moment), but I believe it should work like a charm on Windows and Internet Explorer as well.

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About this post

Created 14th September 2005 18:02 CET. Filed under Javascript and DOM.

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