dojo.query() returns a list of DOM nodes based on a CSS selector.


XHR is half of the AJAX story. Once you make a request for data and receive it via dojo.xhr, you must change the page - display the new data in a panel, turn an indicator from red to green, or whatever. Changing HTML is, in turn, dependent on locating nodes.

A bad solution: using the DOM API

To select HTML elements in JavaScript, you can use the browser’s native DOM API, but they’re verbose and hard to work with...not to mention slow. For example, retrieving all nodes with the class “progressIndicator” uses this code:

<script type="text/javascript">
  // list every node with the class "progressIndicator":
  var list = [];
  var nodes = document.getElementsByTagName("*");
  // iterate over every node in the document....SLOOOW
  for(var x = 0; x < nodes.length; x++){
      // only nodes with the class "progressIndicator":
      if(nodes[x].className == "progressIndicator"){
          // add to array:

Oy! That's a lot of code for what should be very simple. It's also very slow.

Better and faster: dojo.query

dojo.query gives us a more compact way to do it, and it's often faster, particularly as we ask for more sophisticated kinds of relationships. The following is exactly equivalent to our first example:

<script type="text/javascript">
  // list every node with the class "progressIndicator":
  console.dir( dojo.query(".progressIndicator") );


Users of other libraries will find the syntax very familiar:

  // every element in the page with the class "blueButton" assigned
  dojo.query(".blueButton").forEach(function(node, index, arr){

The returned object of a dojo.query() call is an instance of dojo.NodeList, a subclass of Array with many convenience methods added for making DOM manipulation and event handling easier. Custom extensions of the dojo.NodeList class are supported and encouraged.


Simple Queries

// all <h3> elements
// all <h3> elements which are first-child of their parent node
// a node with id="main"
// all <h3> elements within a node with id="main"
dojo.query('#main h3')
// a <div> with an id="main"
// all <h3> elements within a div with id="main"
dojo.query('div#main h3')
// all <h3> elements that are immediate children of a <div>, within node with id="main"
dojo.query('#main div > h3')
// all nodes with class="foo"
// all nodes with classes "foo" and "bar"
// all <h3> elements that are immediate children of a node with id="main"
dojo.query('#main > h3')

Immediate Child Elements

dojo.query('#main > *')
dojo.query('#main >')
dojo.query('.foo >')
dojo.query('.foo > *')

Queries rooted at a given element

dojo.query('> *', dojo.byId('container'))
dojo.query('> h3', 'main')

Compound queries

Combining 2 or more selectors to produce one resultset

dojo.query('.foo, .bar')

Multiple class attribute values


Using attribute selectors

Picking out elements with particular attributes/values

dojo.query('#main [foo$=thud]')
dojo.query('#main [ title $= thud ]')
dojo.query('#main span[ title $= thud ]')

Descendant selectors

dojo.query('>', 'container')
dojo.query('> *', 'container')
dojo.query('> [qux]', 'container')

Sibling selectors

dojo.query('.foo + span')
dojo.query('.foo ~ span')
dojo.query('#foo ~ *')
dojo.query('#foo ~')

Sub-selectors, using not()



dojo.query('#main > h3:nth-child(odd)')
dojo.query('#main h3:nth-child(odd)')
dojo.query('#main h3:nth-child(2n+1)')
dojo.query('#main h3:nth-child(even)')
dojo.query('#main h3:nth-child(2n)')
dojo.query('#main h3:nth-child(2n+3)')
dojo.query('#main > *:nth-child(2n-5)')

Using pseudo-selectors

dojo.query('#main2 > :checked')
dojo.query('#main2 > input[type=checkbox]:checked')
dojo.query('#main2 > input[type=radio]:checked')

Count of checked checkboxes in a form with id myForm

dojo.query('input:checked', 'myForm').length

Standard CSS3 Selectors

Because dojo.query adopts the CSS3 standard for selecting nodes, you can use any CSS reference guide for help on choosing the right queries. Eric Meyer's CSS: The Definitive Guide is a good resource. For convenience, here's a chart of the standard CSS3 selectors, taken from the current working draft RFC.

Pattern Meaning
* any element
E an element of type E
E[foo] an E element with a "foo" attribute
E[foo="bar"] an E element whose "foo" attribute value is exactly equal to "bar"
E[foo~="bar"] an E element whose "foo" attribute value is a list of space-separated values, one of which is exactly equal to "bar"
E[foo^="bar"] an E element whose "foo" attribute value begins exactly with the string "bar"
E[foo$="bar"] an E element whose "foo" attribute value ends exactly with the string "bar"
E[foo*="bar"] an E element whose "foo" attribute value contains the substring "bar"
E[hreflang|="en"] an E element whose "hreflang" attribute has a hyphen-separated list of values beginning (from the left) with "en"
E:root an E element, root of the document
E:nth-child(n) an E element, the n-th child of its parent
E:nth-last-child(n) an E element, the n-th child of its parent, counting from the last one
E:nth-of-type(n) an E element, the n-th sibling of its type
E:nth-last-of-type(n) an E element, the n-th sibling of its type, counting from the last one
E:first-child an E element, first child of its parent
E:last-child an E element, last child of its parent
E:first-of-type an E element, first sibling of its type
E:last-of-type an E element, last sibling of its type
E:only-child an E element, only child of its parent
E:only-of-type an E element, only sibling of its type
E:empty an E element that has no children (including text nodes)
E:visited an E element being the source anchor of a hyperlink of which the target is not yet visited (:link) or already visited (:visited)
E:focus an E element during certain user actions
E:target an E element being the target of the referring URI
E:lang(fr) an element of type E in language "fr" (the document language specifies how language is determined)
E:disabled a user interface element E which is enabled or disabled
E:checked a user interface element E which is checked (for instance a radio-button or checkbox)
E::first-line the first formatted line of an E element
E::first-letter the first formatted letter of an E element
E::selection the portion of an E element that is currently selected/highlighted by the user
E::before generated content before an E element
E::after generated content after an E element
E.warning an E element whose class is "warning" (the document language specifies how class is determined).
E#myid an E element with ID equal to "myid".
E:not(s) an E element that does not match simple selector s
E F an F element descendant of an E element
E > F an F element child of an E element
E + F an F element immediately preceded by an E element
E ~ F an F element preceded by an E element
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