author:Peter Higgins


dojo/NodeList-data is a module that extends the NodeList by adding a simple data abstraction API. This allows you to bind data items to individual nodes, allowing retrieval of the data later by reference to the node.

The module exposes the API by extending NodeList with two methods: data() and removeData().


To utilise the module, require it in. It does not need to be provided a return variable. It is normally used in conjunction with the dojo/query module:

require(["dojo/query", "dojo/NodeList-data"], function(query){
  query("#aNode").data("someKey", "someValue");


Adds or retrieves arbitrary data to NodeList nodes. When passed two arguments the function acts as a setter, the first argument specifies the key of the data and the second is the value. The function then will set that data on each node that is a member of the NodeList. When passed only a single argument, it acts as a getter and returns a zero based array of the values for the specified key.

require("dojo/query", "dojo/NodeList-data", function(query){
  query("#foo").data("bar", "baz");
  var values = query("#foo").data("bar");
  if(values[0] == "baz"){
    // do something

Notice how the return of data() when it is acting like a getter is an Array. This is because a NodeList is essentially an array, even when it has only a single element.

When data() is a setter, it returns the instance of NodeList it is operating on, thereby allowing for chaining:

require("dojo/query", "dojo/NodeList-data", function(query){
    .data("bar", "baz")
    .data("qat", "qut");

Also, data() can accept an Object, which will then be mixed into the data of the node:

require("dojo/query", "dojo/NodeList-data", function(query){
    a: "bar",
    b: "baz",
    c: [0, 1, 3]

  var a = query("#foo").data("a")[0];
  // a == "bar"
  var b = query("#foo").data("b")[0];
  // b == "baz"
  var c = query("#foo").data("c")[0];
  // c == [0, 1, 3]

When data() is called with no arguments, it returns an array of hashes that contain all the data values:

require(["dojo/query", "dojo/NodeList-data"], function(query){
  query("#foo").data("a", "bar")
    .data("b", "baz")
    .data("c", [0, 1, 3]);

  var values = query("#foo").data()[0];
  // values == { a: "bar", b: "baz", "c": [0, 1, 3] }


removeData() will remove data from nodes. If pass with no arguments, it will remove all the data from the nodes in the NodeList or if provided with a key, it will remove only that attribute:

require(["dojo/query", "dojo/NodeList-data"], function(query){
  query("#foo").removeData(); // add data removed
  query("#foo").removeData("bar"); // only "bar" removed


Memory Considerations

There is no automatic node-deletion tracking going on. If you bind data to a node, and destroy that node directly or indirectly, the data will persist in the cache. In small pages, the memory consumption of this data cache is probably not worth considering. In large pages, or single page AJAX apps that seldom or never refresh, the memory could increase indefinitely, leading to what could be perceived as a leak. It is highly recommended you manually clear out data on nodes you no longer need. If this is not a possibility due to engineering, or loose coupling, a single garbage collection API is provided: _gcNodeData(). This can be accessed by ensuring you have loaded the dojo/_base/kernel:

require(["dojo/_base/kernel", "dojo/NodeList-data"], function(kernel){

You can call _gcNodeData() at any time. It will remove items from the cache for nodes that no longer exist in the DOM. This function could be wildly expensive, especially on pages with a large DOM. Again, though this API is provided, it is highly recommended you manually manage your Data items if in a scenario leading to these potential “leaks”.

See Also

  • dojo/store - is an opaque Data API, unrelated to direct node references. More powerful and abstract than this node-data module.
  • dijit/_WidgetBase - If you have complex data and relationships between components and nodes, perhaps you are thinking about it wrong. dijit/_WidgetBase provides another take on data-node binding by providing an API to Objects exclusively, each bound to at the least a top-level DomNode. This base class powers the entire Dijit UI library, and is very small.
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