How to Get or Set Text Value of an XML Node in JavaScript Using jQuery

Edited on October 7th: I realized after the original post that the code provided was not entirely correct.  Specifically, it ignored CDATA values.  Methods below have been updated to reflect that fix.

The logic for extracting the text values is extracted into a separate function:

function getTextNodes(node){
  return $(node).contents().filter(function(){
    return (
      ((this.nodeName=="#text" && this.nodeType=="3") || this.nodeType=="4") // text node, or CDATA node
      && ($.trim(this.nodeValue.replace("\n","")) !== "") // not empty

This method first gets the contents of the node (all children, including child nodes, text nodes, comments), and then filters it down to only what it promises to deliver.  It ignores text nodes which contain only blanks, only newlines, or some combination of only those two.

Then, the set/get functions become:

function getNodeValue(node){
   var $textNodes = getTextNodes(node);
       textValue = ($textNodes[0]) ? $.trim($textNodes[0].textContent) : "";
   return textValue;

And since we’re at it, here’s a way to set it:

function setNodeValue(node, value){
   var $textNodes = getTextNodes(node);
   if ($textNodes.get(0)) $textNodes.get(0).nodeValue = value;
   else node["textContent"] = value;

One other change to note (bolded above, in setNodeValue()) is that if a specific node has no prior text value, instead of setting it using node.textContent, we’re setting it with node[“textContent”] since Internet Explorer doesn’t like the first method (property doesn’t exist when blank).  This is good practice since its generally safer.

4 Comments on “How to Get or Set Text Value of an XML Node in JavaScript Using jQuery”

  1. Thanks for publishing about this. There’s a bunch of solid tech info on the internet. You’ve got a lot of that info here on your website. I’m impressed – I try to keep a couple blogs fairly up-to-date, but it’s a struggle sometimes. You’ve done a big job with this one. How do you do it?

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