Issue #89  (importNode(), Text Editors, Debugging Tools, jQuery)04/02/15

In addition to the cloneNode() method that I discussed last week, there's also a method called importNode() that lets you clone a node from an external document (e.g. one embedded in an iframe in the current document). For example, you could have HTML that looks like this in a file called import.html:
<div id="example">
  <p>This is some example text to import.</p>

Then you have the following HTML in your primary document:
<iframe src="import.html"></iframe>

<div id="container"></div>

A script running on the latter document can use importNode() like this:
var iframe = document.getElementsByTagName('iframe')[0],
    frameDoc = iframe.contentWindow.document,
    frameNode = frameDoc.getElementById('example'),
    imported = document.importNode(frameNode, true);


You can view this in action in this demo, which is on my own server so I can keep the origin of the imported node the same.

Grabbing nodes from external documents in this way doesn't seem to be difficult. From what I can see, importNode() isn't always necessary but apparently there are ownerDocument issues that are in play, which you can read about in this FAQ by the W3C.

Some notes:
  • As shown, the first argument for importNode() is the node being imported. The 2nd argument is the "deep" Boolean, indicating if you want a "deep" copy or just the parent (same as with cloneNode()).
  • You should always include the "deep" argument because, evidently, the default value has changed, so you'll get mixed results in old vs. new browsers if you omit the 2nd argument.
  • The import action doesn't remove or otherwise affect the original node.
  • Supported in IE9+.
See MDN's article for a little more info.
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