Unique element ID, even if element doesn't have one


I'm writing a GreaseMonkey script where I'm iterating through a bunch of elements. For each element, I need a string ID that I can use to reference that element later. The element itself doesn't have an id attribute, and I can't modify the original document to give it one (although I can make DOM changes in my script). I can't store the references in my script because when I need them, the GreaseMonkey script itself will have gone out of scope. Is there some way to get at an "internal" ID that the browser uses, for example? A Firefox-only solution is fine; a cross-browser solution that could be applied in other scenarios would be awesome.


  • If the GreaseMonkey script is out of scope, how are you referencing the elements later? They GreaseMonkey script is adding events to DOM objects. I can't store the references in an array or some other similar mechanism because when the event fires, the array will be gone because the GreaseMonkey script will have gone out of scope. So the event needs some way to know about the element reference that the script had when the event was attached. And the element in question is not the one to which it is attached.

  • Can't you just use a custom property on the element? Yes, but the problem is on the lookup. I'd have to resort to iterating through all the elements looking for the one that has that custom property set to the desired id. That would work, sure, but in large documents it could be very time consuming. I'm looking for something where the browser can do the lookup grunt work.

  • Wait, can you or can you not modify the document? I can't modify the source document, but I can make DOM changes in the script. I'll clarify in the question.

  • Can you not use closures? Closuses did turn out to work, although I initially thought they wouldn't. See my later post.

It sounds like the answer to the question: "Is there some internal browser ID I could use?" is "No."


OK, there is no ID associated to DOM element automatically. DOM has a hierarchycal structure of elements which is the main information. From this perspective, you can associate data to DOM elements with jQuery or jQLite. It can solve some issues when you have to bind custom data to elements.

By : kisp

I 'think' I've just solved a problem similar to this. However, I'm using jQuery in a browser DOM environment.

var objA = $("selector to some dom element"); var objB = $("selector to some other dom element");

if( objA[0] === objB[0]) { //GREAT! the two objects point to exactly the same dom node }

Use mouse and/or positional properties of the element to generate a unique ID.

This video can help you solving your question :)
By: admin