Mutation Observer for creating new elements

I am trying to make a function go off when a particular div is created. In the simplest of terms, I have something like this:

<a href="" id="foo">Click me!</a>
<script>
$("#foo").live("click",function(e) {
    e.preventDefault();
    $(this).append($("<div />").html("new div").attr("id","bar"));
});
</script>

Before, I had mutation events listen for the creation of div#bar - something like this:

$("#bar").live("DOMNodeInserted", function(event) {
    console.log("a new div has been appended to the page");
});

Is there an equivalent using Mutation Observers? I tried attrchange.js featured on Can you have a javascript hook trigger after a DOM element's style object changes? but that plugin only detects when an element has been modified, not when it's created.

Answers:

Answer

This is code that listens for mutations on the childlist of #foo and checks to see if a child with the id of bar is added.

MutationObserver = window.MutationObserver || window.WebKitMutationObserver;

$("#foo").live("click",function(e) {
    e.preventDefault();
    $(this).append($("<div />").html("new div").attr("id","bar"));
});

// define a new observer
var obs = new MutationObserver(function(mutations, observer) {
    // look through all mutations that just occured
    for(var i=0; i<mutations.length; ++i) {
        // look through all added nodes of this mutation
        for(var j=0; j<mutations[i].addedNodes.length; ++j) {
            // was a child added with ID of 'bar'?
            if(mutations[i].addedNodes[j].id == "bar") {
                console.log("bar was added!");
            }
        }
    }
});

// have the observer observe foo for changes in children
obs.observe($("#foo").get(0), {
  childList: true
});

However, this only observes #foo. If you want to look for the addition of #bar as a new child of other nodes, you need to observe those potential parents with additional calls to obs.observe(). To observe a node with the id of baz, you might do:

obs.observe($('#baz').get(0), {
  childList: true,
  subtree: true
});

The addition of the subtree option means that the observer will look for the addition of #bar as either a child or a deeper descendant (e.g. grandchild).

Answer

When using jQuery, the usage of MutationObservers can be simplified as shown below.

$("#btnAddDirectly").click(function () {
    $("#canvas").append($('<span class="stuff">new child direct</span>'));
});
$("#btnAddAsChildOfATree").click(function () {
    $("#canvas").append($('<div><div><span class="stuff">new child tree</span></div></div>'));
});

var obs = new MutationObserver(function(mutations, observer) {
  // using jQuery to optimize code
  $.each(mutations, function (i, mutation) {
    var addedNodes = $(mutation.addedNodes);
    var selector = "span.stuff"
    var filteredEls = addedNodes.find(selector).addBack(selector); // finds either added alone or as tree
    filteredEls.each(function () { // can use jQuery select to filter addedNodes
      alert('Insertion detected: ' + $(this).text());
    });
  });
});

var canvasElement = $("#canvas")[0];
obs.observe(canvasElement, {childList: true, subtree: true});
<script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/2.1.1/jquery.min.js"></script>

<div id="canvas">
Canvas
</div>

<button id="btnAddDirectly">Add span directly to canvas</button>
<button id="btnAddAsChildOfATree">Add span as child of a tree</button>

It is always important to notice, the second argument to .observe(), MutationObserverInit, is important:

In the options, use childList: true if the span will only be added as a direct child. subTree: true if it can be at any level down below #canvas.

From the docs:

  • childList: Set to true if additions and removals of the target node's child elements (including text nodes) are to be observed.
  • subtree: Set to true if mutations to target and target's descendants are to be observed.

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