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How to get an element’s siblings with vanilla JavaScript

Over the last few days, we’ve learned how to climb up the DOM and get parent elements in a variety of different ways.

Today, let’s look at how to get an element’s siblings.

For example, if you had a list item (an <li>), how would you get get all the others in the list? jQuery makes this really easy with the siblings() method.

But, with about 8 lines of code, we can easily create a vanilla JavaScript helper function that does the same thing.

Getting Setup #

First, let’s create a helper function named getSiblings().

var getSiblings = function (elem) {
    // Code goes here...
};

Now, let’s create an array that we’ll push each sibling element to.

var getSiblings = function (elem) {
    var siblings = [];
};

Next, we want to grab the first sibling of our element. Using a list item as an example, we want to grab the first <li> in the list that our list item belongs to.

We’ll do that using the .parentNode property to get the parent list, and then the .firstChild property to get the first item.

var getSiblings = function (elem) {
    var siblings = [];
    var sibling = elem.parentNode.firstChild;
};

Getting all sibling elements #

Now we’re ready to loop through each of our siblings and push them to our array.

We’ll use a for loop for this. After each iteration of the loop, we’ll update our sibling variable to point to the next sibling in the list using the nextSibling property.

As long as a sibling exists, we’ll keep looping through.

var getSiblings = function (elem) {
    var siblings = [];
    var sibling = elem.parentNode.firstChild;
    for (; sibling; sibling = sibling.nextSibling) {
        // Do something...
    }
};

In our loop, we want to check if our current sibling is our original elem element. If it is, we’ll skip it.

We also want to make sure that the current sibling is really an element and not a string of text or anything weird like that. We’ll use nodeType to check that.

Otherwise, we’ll push our sibling to the siblings array.

var getSiblings = function (elem) {
    var siblings = [];
    var sibling = elem.parentNode.firstChild;
    for (; sibling; sibling = sibling.nextSibling) {
        if (sibling.nodeType !== 1 || sibling === elem) continue;
        siblings.push(sibling);
    }
};

And finally, when the loop is done, we’ll return it.

var getSiblings = function (elem) {
    var siblings = [];
    var sibling = elem.parentNode.firstChild;
    for (; sibling; sibling = sibling.nextSibling) {
        if (sibling.nodeType !== 1 || sibling === elem) continue;
        siblings.push(sibling);
    }
    return siblings;
};

You would use it like this:

var elem = document.querySelector('#some-element');
var siblings = getSiblings(elem);

You can also download this helper function on GitHub.


🚀 Make 2018 the year you master JavaScript! My pocket guides and mini courses are short, focused, and made for beginners. You can do this!

Have any questions or comments about this post? Email me at chris@gomakethings.com or contact me on Twitter at @ChrisFerdinandi.

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