jQuery How-to: Creating and Inserting New Elements (Part 1)

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jQuery is one of the most popular JavaScript library on the planet, which offers a lot capabilities. Using jQuery, we can easily manipulate – replace, insert, remove – elements within an HTML document and even create animation.

In this post, we are going to take a look at how to create or insert new elements within DOM with the jQuery Append method.

Insert New Element

Appending is a method of creating and inserting new element within a specified element, it technically inserts the new element right before the closing tag of that specified element – thus becoming its child element.

Before we proceed, we will first show you how to do it purely with JavaScript, so you can see how much simpler jQuery can make the method.

In JavaScript, before we are able to add an element to the document, we need to define (create) the element. We can use .createElement() function to create a new element. In the following example, we create a new <div> element and store it in a variable named div.

var div = document.createElement('div');

By the time we define a new element with this function, it only creates the element, but it doesn’t insert the new element to the document. We need to call one function, that is .appendChild() to insert that element. In the following example, we will insert this new <div>, simply, in the body document.

var div = document.createElement('div');
document.body.appendChild(div);

If we inspect the document in Developer Tool, you should see that our div element has been inserted there, before the body closing tag.

Now, let’s see how we do the same thing with jQuery. jQuery makes manipulating document elements simpler. jQuery provides a function called .append().

In the following example, we append a <div> to body document.

$('body').append('<div>');

Like what we have demonstrated with JavaScript, the code line above returns the same result. It creates a new element and inserts it before the body closing tag. But we did it in fewer lines of code.

A note to remember, JavaScript does not save or alter document physically. Thus, when we view the actual document source, the elements that are generated by JavaScript will not be found.

Insert New Element with Text

Let’s go a bit further with this method. This time, we will insert a new element with text inside it. Like before, we will see how to do it purely with JavaScript.

To do so, we need to define the new element and the text. Since we will add text, we can create a paragraph element in this example.

var p = document.createElement('p'); // create new paragraph element

Next, we need to define the text. The text in JavaScript is created using .createTextNode() function. In this example, we store the text value in a variable named txt.

var p = document.createElement('p'),
txt = document.createTextNode('This is the text in new element.');

At this point, we have two variables, which store the new element and the text respectively. However, they are still separated and can stand alone. To insert the text to the new element we have created, we can run the same .appendChild() function, like so.

p.appendChild(txt);

Then again, we run .appendChild() to insert the element to the body document.

document.body.appendChild(p);

If we see it in the browser or through the Developer Tool, we get:

In jQuery, the process is simplified. Instead of separately defining two variables for the text and the new element, we can write them together with .append() function, like so.

$('body').append('<p>This is the text in new element.<p>');

The above code essentially does the same thing, it will insert the the text with <p> element to the body (before the body closing tag).

Final Thought

You can see that using jQuery with .append() function, we are able to dynamically add new elements in a slimmer way than using pure JavaScript. But of course, there are times when using the JavaScript is better than loading jQuery Library – which is why we will also show you how to do it.

This article is only the beginning. In the next part, we will see how to insert element in more advanced way. So, stay tuned!

If you have some questions upon our discussion in this post, feel free to add it in the comment box below.

Author:

Thoriq is a writer for hongkiat.com. He is also a web developer with very unpredictable sleep cycle.

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