DOM: History of GetElementsByClassName

By Xah Lee. Date: .

What Does getElementsByClassName Return?

As of 2019-05-30, on Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox:

HTMLCollection vs NodeList 2019-05-30 g4dt4
HTMLCollection vs NodeList 2019-05-30
// print if the DOM get element functions return node list or hmtl collection
].forEach ((x => {
let y = document[x] ("p");
console.log( `${x} → ${Reflect.apply ( Object.prototype.toString , y, [] )}`);

As of 2013-04-26, getElementsByClassName in {Firefox, Internet Explorer} return HTMLCollection. {Chrome, Safari, Opera} return NodeList. Older versions of Firefox returns NodeList.

[see Get Elements by ID/Name/Class etc]

As of 2016-07-02, getElementsByClassName in {Google Chrome, Firefox} returns HTMLCollection.

As of 2019-05-30, getElementsByClassName in {Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox} returns HTMLCollection.

Even Browsers and W3C Are Confused

Here is what Mozilla says:

Note: While the W3C DOM 3 Core specification says elements is a NodeList that was simply because of a an attempt to have the “core” specification not depend on the “html” specification at that time. The DOM 4 draft says that elements is an HTMLCollection.

Gecko/Firefox currently returns a NodeList (Bug 162927) but starting with Gecko/Firefox 19, this method will return HTMLCollection (Bug 799464). Internet Explorer returns a HTMLCollection. WebKit returns a NodeList. Opera also returns a NodeList, but with a namedItem method implemented, which makes it similar to a HTMLCollection.

, from

Here is WHATWG says as of 2016-07-02:

Elements is the better solution for representing a collection of elements. HTMLCollection is an historical artifact we cannot rid the web of.

Node and Element, Spec as of 2022-08-21

html spec node tree 2022-08-21
html spec node tree 2022-08-21
html spec old style collection 2022-08-21
html spec old style collection 2022-08-21
html spec NodeList 2022-08-21
html spec NodeList 2022-08-21
html spec HTMLCollection 2022-08-21
html spec HTMLCollection 2022-08-21

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