In this guide, we break down the most common use case of both querySelector and getElementById. We also compare these two methods and walk you through a basic example of how each of them work.
What is querySelector?
querySelectorAll() which selects all the elements that match a particular selector from the DOM.
These two methods are incredibly versatile. This is because CSS selector syntax lets you select any element from a web page.
Using querySelector, you don’t have to worry about being constrained by only being allowed to select elements by class or IDs, like you would if you used getElementById or getElementsByClassName.
These methods are particularly useful if the elements you are selecting are similar to those you select in your CSS stylesheet.
<p class="accessibility">Skip to main content</p>
We have defined a paragraph of text with the class name “accessibility”. Next, let’s select this paragraph using the
const accessibility_elements = document.querySelector(".accessibility");
This code lets us select the first element whose class is equal to “accessibility”. The “.” denotes that we want to select a class. If we had two elements with the class “accessibility”, we could use the
querySelectorAll() method to retrieve them both.
What is getElementById?
The getElementById() method retrieves an element based on its ID attribute, hence the name.
This method is more restrictive than querySelector because you can only retrieve elements based on their particular ID.
You would use this method if you only want to retrieve one element from the web page. This is because HTML IDs must be unique to a particular element. You cannot use an ID to refer to two elements on the web page.
Let’s retrieve an element using the getElementById selector. First, let’s write the HTML code from which we are going to select an element:
<section id="comments"> <h2>Comments</h2> </section>
const comments_section = document.getElementById("comments");
querySelector vs. getElementById
The obvious similarity between these two methods is that they both select elements from a web page. They do so in different ways.
With a querySelector statement, you can select an element based on a CSS selector. This means you can select elements by ID, class, or any other type of selector. Using the getElementById method, you can only select an element by its ID.
Generally, you should opt for the selector that most clearly gets the job done.
If you only need to select an element by ID or class, you can use getElementById or getElementsByClassName, respectively. If you need to use a more elaborate rule to select elements, the querySelector method is your best option.
The querySelector method lets you retrieve an element using a CSS selector query. The getElementById method retrieves an element by its DOM ID.
Both methods have wide browser support. You should opt to use the querySelector method if you need to select elements using more complex rules that are easily represented using a CSS selector. If you want to select an element by its ID, using getElementById is a good choice.
Now you have the knowledge you need to know when to use the querySelector and getElementById methods like a pro!
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