Replacing jQuery with Vanilla JavaScript

A while back at a previous job, I set out on an internal initiative to remove jQuery from our company website.

It was a useful exercise both in lessening the amount of JavaScript we were shipping in the site and as a learning exercise for myself.

I came across some common patterns that I needed to figure out how to do without the help of jQuery.

Tags: Drafts Code Javascript

Using for loops for binding event listeners

In jQuery, you can get all elements with a selector and add an event listener to them quite easily and with very little code. Something like this:


It's not as simple or as clean in vanilla JavaScript. Here's what something like this would translate to without jQuery.

We use document.querySelectorAll() to get all elements on a page that match a certain selector.

// Get all elements on the page that match a selector.
// This replaces $('.media-item__play-button') from above.
const buttons = document.querySelectorAll('.media-item__play-button');

// Loop over all instances of the found buttons.
// jQuery abstracts this away and does it for
// you behind the scenes.
for (let i = 0; i < buttons.length; i++) {
  const button = buttons[i];
  // Add the event listener.
  // This is the .click() part from above.
  button.addEventListener('click', () => {
    // Do something

Adding and Removing Classes

Adding and removing classes in jQuery is really simple, using either addClass or removeClass().

You end up with something like this:

// Add the class.
// Remove the class.

Though it used to be more complicated, this has been pretty simple in vanilla JavaScript for a while now as well!

// Check if an element has a class

// Add a class

// Remove a class

Creating Elements and Appending Them

I found several places where our site was creating elements and appending them to the DOM based on user interaction.

This is pretty easy to do with jQuery's append() and prepend() methods.

For example, say clicking on a link should create an iframe of a video to display in an overlay. You could do that like this in jQuery:

// Select the dom node where you want to insert the video
// Write the markup you want to insert and it will be inserted!
.append('<iframe src="" frameborder="0" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>');


In vanilla JavaScript, this isn't as simple. We have to do a little bit more work to "create" the markup that we want to use using document.createElement. With jQuery, we could write it as we would in a code editor and jQuery takes care of the work we have to do below now.

// Grab the dom node where you want to insert the video.
const insertVideoHere = e.currentTarget;

// Create the element, using createElement
const iframe = document.createElement('iframe');

// Add attributes programatically to the iframe element we've created
iframe.src = videoService + videoId + videoSettings;
iframe.frameBorder = 0;
iframe.allowFullscreen = true;

// Insert the element to the spot we want!

Template Literals and innerHtml

function createMarkup(data) {
	return `

document.querySelector('.insert-here').innerHtml = createMarkup(data);


Scrolling the Page

  top: 100,
  behavior: 'smooth'

Scroll an Element Into View

element.scrollIntoView({top: 0, behavior: 'smooth'});

Smooth Scroll Polyfill

Repo Demo

Figure out where an element is on the page.

 const element = document.querySelector('.contact-us__form-wrapper');

// Scroll position plus element position minus height of fixed
// header plus some padding.
const top =
  window.pageYOffset + element.getBoundingClientRect().top - 120;

// Scroll the window to the success message.
window.scroll({top: top, behavior: 'smooth'});

Get Parent / Get Closest


From Go Make Things

  getClosest(elem, selector) {
    // Element.matches() polyfill
    if (!Element.prototype.matches) {
      Element.prototype.matches =
      Element.prototype.matchesSelector ||
      Element.prototype.mozMatchesSelector ||
      Element.prototype.msMatchesSelector ||
      Element.prototype.oMatchesSelector ||
      Element.prototype.webkitMatchesSelector ||
      function(s) {
        const matches =
          (this.document || this.ownerDocument).querySelectorAll(s);
        let i = matches.length;
        while (--i >= 0 && matches.item(i) !== this) {}
        return i > -1;

    for ( ; elem && elem !== document; elem = elem.parentNode ) {
      if ( elem.matches( selector ) ) {
        return elem;
    return null;