Document Object Model

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The Document Object Model (DOM) is a cross-platform and language-independent convention for representing and interacting with objects in HTML, XHTML and XML documents. Aspects of the DOM (such as its "Elements") may be addressed and manipulated within the syntax of the programming language in use. The public interface of a DOM is specified in its application programming interface (API).



The history of the Document Object Model is intertwined with the history of the "browser wars" of the late 1990s between Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer, as well as with that of JavaScript and JScript, the first scripting languages to be widely implemented in the layout engines of web browsers.

Legacy DOM

JavaScript was released by Netscape Communications in 1996 within Netscape Navigator 2.0. Netscape's competitor, Microsoft, released Internet Explorer 3.0 later the same year with a port of JavaScript called JScript. JavaScript and JScript let web developers create web pages with client-side interactivity. The limited facilities for detecting user-generated events and modifying the HTML document in the first generation of these languages eventually became known as "DOM Level 0" or "Legacy DOM". No independent standard was developed for DOM Level 0, but it was partly described in the specification of HTML4.

Legacy DOM was limited in the kinds of elements that could be accessed. Form, link and image elements could be referenced with a hierarchical name that began with the root document object. A hierarchical name could make use of either the names or the sequential index of the traversed elements. For example, a form input element could be accessed as either "document.formName.inputName" or "document.forms[0].elements[0]".

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