The Document Object Model

The designers of JavaScript were very smart. Rather than just creating yet another scripting language (which would have still been a pretty good improvement at the time), they had the vision to build it around the Document Object Model or DOM. This breaks down the parts of an HTML document into discrete objects, each with its own properties and methods, and each subject to JavaScript’s control. JavaScript separates objects, properties, and methods using a period (one good reason why + is the string concatenation operator in JavaScript, rather than the period). For example, let’s consider a business card as an object we’ll call card. This object contains properties such as a name, address, phone number, and so on. In the syntax of Java- Script, these properties would look like this:

Its methods are functions that retrieve, change, and otherwise act on the properties. For instance, to invoke a method that displays the properties of object card, you might use syntax such as:


Have a look at some of the earlier topics and look at where the statement document.write is used. Now that you understand how JavaScript is based around objects, you will see that write is actually a method of the document object. Within JavaScript, there is a hierarchy of parent and child objects. This is what is known as the Document Object Model (see following Figure).

The figure uses HTML tags that you are already familiar with to illustrate the parent/ child relationship between the various objects in a document. For example, a URL within a link is part of the body of an HTML document. In JavaScript, it is referenced like this:

url = document.links.linkname.href

Notice how this follows the central column down. The first part, document, refers to the and tags, links.linkname to the <a …> tag and href to the href=… element.