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Kushagra Gour
Kushagra Gour

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Sending a DOM Element over postmessage

I had a requirement where I wanted to send a DOM Element through postMessage. If you have tried this before, you know that it can't be done as DOM Elements are not clonable or serializable to be able to send in postMessage. So I got down to writing a function that converts a DOM Element into something like a DOM Element which I can send over postMessage.

Note: For my use case, I finally wanted an object on which I could access trivial things like tagName, childNodes, nodeType etc. So if I get those properties on my fake DOM Element, I was good.

The small little function

function getFakeDomElement(node) {
    const fakeNode = {
        nodeName: node.nodeName,
        nodeType: node.nodeType,
        tagName: node.tagName,
        childNodes: [...node.childNodes].map(child => getFakeDomElement(child)),
        textContent: node.textContent
    if(node.attributes) {
        fakeNode.attributes = [...node.attributes].map(attribute => ({, value:attribute.value}))
    return fakeNode;

Let me brief out what this does.

  • Firstly, this is a recursive function. Meaning, it calls itself for the child nodes. Refer the line [...node.childNodes].map(child => getFakeDomElement(child)).
  • We are creating a new object for every node and simply copying all the required properties on our new node.
  • Special treatment is required for childNodes and attributes because they can't simply be copied. They are the reason why our DOM Element wasn't clonable in the first place.
  • For childNodes, it's easy. We just run our getFakeDomElement function over each child node to get a fake child node.
  • For attributes, if we find any, we map it into an array of objects. Each object is of the structure {name, value} - similar to how attributes can be accessed.

And we are done! We finally get a fake DOM Element which we can iterate and access just like a DOM Element, that too over postMessage.

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