class method Element.addMethods

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Element.addMethods(methods) → undefined
Element.addMethods(tagName, methods) → undefined
  • tagName (String) – (Optional) The name of the HTML tag for which the methods should be available; if not given, all HTML elements will have the new methods.
  • methods (Object) – A hash of methods to add.

Element.addMethods makes it possible to mix your own methods into the Element object and extended element instances (all of them, or only ones with the given HTML tag if you specify tagName).

You define the methods in a hash that you provide to Element.addMethods. Here's an example adding two methods:

   // myOwnMethod: Do something cool with the element
  myOwnMethod: function(element) {
    if (!(element = $(element))) return;
    // smething with 'element'...
    return element;
   // wrap: Wrap the element in a new element using the given tag
  wrap: function(element, tagName) {
    var wrapper;
    if (!(element = $(element))) return;
    wrapper = new Element(tagName);
    element.parentNode.replaceChild(wrapper, element);
    return wrapper;

Once added, those can be used either via Element:

// Wrap the element with the ID 'foo' in a div
Element.wrap('foo', 'div');

...or as instance methods of extended elements:

// Wrap the element with the ID 'foo' in a div

Note the following requirements and conventions for methods added to Element:

  • The first argument is always an element or ID, by convention this argument is called element.
  • The method passes the element argument through $ and typically returns if the result is undefined.
  • Barring a good reason to return something else, the method returns the extended element to enable chaining.

Our myOwnMethod method above returns the element because it doesn't have a good reason to return anything else. Our wrap method returns the wrapper, because that makes more sense for that method.

Extending only specific elements

If you call Element.addMethods with two arguments, it will apply the methods only to elements with the given HTML tag:

Element.addMethods('DIV', my_div_methods);
// the given methods are now available on DIV elements, but not others

You can also pass an Array of tag names as the first argument:

Element.addMethods(['DIV', 'SPAN'], my_additional_methods);
// DIV and SPAN now both have the given methods

(Tag names in the first argument are not case sensitive.)

Note: Element.addMethods has built-in security which prevents you from overriding native element methods or properties (like getAttribute or innerHTML), but nothing prevents you from overriding one of Prototype's methods. Prototype uses a lot of its methods internally; overriding its methods is best avoided or at least done only with great care.

Example 1

Our wrap method earlier was a complete example. For instance, given this paragraph:

<p id="first">Some content...</p>

...we might wrap it in a div:


...or perhaps wrap it and apply some style to the div as well:

  backgroundImage: 'url(images/rounded-corner-top-left.png) top left'
Example 2

We can add a method to elements that makes it a bit easier to update them via Ajax.Updater:

  ajaxUpdate: function(element, url, options) {
    if (!(element = $(element))) return;
    element.update('<img src="/images/spinner.gif" alt="Loading...">');
    options = options || {};
    options.onFailure = options.onFailure || defaultFailureHandler.curry(element);
    new Ajax.Updater(element, url, options);
    return element;

Now we can update an element via an Ajax call much more concisely than before:


That will use Ajax.Updater to load new content into the 'foo' element, showing a spinner while the call is in progress. It even applies a default failure handler (since we didn't supply one).