Thoughts & Things

Update multiple attributes in vanilla JavaScript [Ditching jQuery: Part 1]

March 02, 2020

Let’s be honest: if you’re an oldschool JavaScript developer, you’ve probably spent a lot of time crutching hard on jQuery. I certainly have.

JavaScript is in a great place, and while jQuery still has its uses, we’re in a great season of vanilla. One of my goals this year is to write as much non-jQuery JavaScript as possible. Over the next few posts I’ll share a bit of what I’ve been writing for handling various requirements in JavaScript without using jQuery.

Updating multiple attributes at once

Recently I was rewriting the JavaScript for ConvertKit’s pricing page and found myself needing to update several attributes at once on a variety of elements. For the most part I could have just written something like:

// Store the selector in a const
const mySelector = document.querySelector(".my-selector");

// For every attribute that needs to be updated,
// use setAttribute() to update it
mySelector.setAttribute("data-name", "my-new-name");
mySelector.setAttribute("href", "https://somenewdomain.local");

This felt far too verbose, especially if I needed to update multiple attributes at a time.

I ended up writing a simple helper function that ends up doing something pretty similar, but gives me more flexibility and the ability to write code that’s a bit more DRY.

const mySelector = document.querySelector(".my-selector");

// A new helper function that allows me to
// loop through the attributes provided in an object
const updateAttributes = (element, attributes) => {
  for (let key in attributes) {
    element.setAttribute(key, attributes[key]);
// Now we can run the function any time we
// want to update the attributes
updateAttributes(mySelector, {
  "data-name": "my-new-name",
  "href": "https://somenewdomain.local"

Now we can use the updateAttributes to write code that’s a bit cleaner and doesn’t require endless setAttribute lines. Pretty simple!

The execution time between these two examples is pretty negligent, 0.124755859375ms vs 0.111083984375ms, and it’s not likely you’ll have to update more than a few attributes at a time. If there were multiple elements that needed to have their attributes updated, however, you might see some growing performance disparity, another point for the handy function.

Cory Miller. Front-End Developer at ConvertKit. Remote.