React-like DOM construction in 8 lines.


var $text = document.createTextNode.bind(document);
var $comment = document.createComment.bind(document);
var $html = function(tag, attrs, c) {
    var el = document.createElement(tag), key, i, len = c && c.length;
    for (k in attrs) if(attrs.hasOwnProperty(k)) el.setAttribute(k, attrs[k]);
    for (i = 0; i < en; i++) el.appendChild(c[i]);
    return el;


A lot of people recommend using JSX when creating React components. I think that’s a good recommendation, especially if you have designers mucking around in your components. However, I find the declarative syntax of React.createElement to be quite pleasant to work with.

This is a minimalistic implementation of similar syntax; simple, terse DOM construction in JavaScript.

var el = $html('div', {'class': 'foo bar'}, [
  $html('h1', null, [ $text('Hello World') ]),
  $text('Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet!')


Will create the following DOM:

<div class='foo bar'>
  <h1>Hello World</h1>
  Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet!

It makes simple work of transforming lists into DOM using .map().

var data = [/*...*/];

function renderItem(item) {
  return $html('div', { 'id': }, [$text(])

var results = $html('div', { 'class': 'result' }, elements);

Good for What?

Mostly, I’ve used this when I need to quickly generate some dynamic DOM where a full-fleged templating engine feels like overkill.

I’ve used this little function in a few CodePen prototypes and sketches. Most recently, I’ve used it for defining Knockout Components. Ko component templates can be document fragments or array of DOM nodes. It’s worked pretty smoothly so far; but will eventually be replaced with a proper templating engine.

Lastly, sometimes string concat-ing and finally injecting/parsing—like Handlebars—feels a little obtuse for the type of transformations I want to do.