How to swap DOM child nodes in JavaScript?

What is the easiest way to swap the order of child nodes?

For example I want childNode[3] to be childNode[4] and vice-versa.

There is no need for cloning. You can just move one node before the other with this:

childNode[4].parentNode.insertBefore(childNode[4], childNode[3]);

You get the parent of the node. You then call the insertBefore method on the parent and you pass it the childNode[4] node and tell it you want it inserted before childNode[3]. That will give you the result of swapping their order so 4 will be before 3 when it's done.

Reference documentation on insertBefore.

Any node that is inserted into the DOM that is already in the DOM is first removed automatically and then inserted back so there is no need to manually remove it first.

Answer by jfriend00 does not really swap elements (it "swaps" only elements which are next to each other and only under the same parent node). This is ok, since this was the question.

This example swaps elements by cloning it but regardless of their position and DOM level:

// Note: Cloned copy of element1 will be returned to get a new reference back
function exchangeElements(element1, element2)
    var clonedElement1 = element1.cloneNode(true);
    var clonedElement2 = element2.cloneNode(true);

    element2.parentNode.replaceChild(clonedElement1, element2);
    element1.parentNode.replaceChild(clonedElement2, element1);

    return clonedElement1;

Edit: Added return of new reference (if you want to keep the reference, e. g. to access attribute "parentNode" (otherwise it gets lost)). Example: e1 = exchangeElements(e1, e2);

Use .before or .after!

This is vanilla JS!




For more durability swapping, try:

function swap(node1, node2) {
    const afterNode2 = node2.nextElementSibling;
    const parent = node2.parentNode;
    parent.insertBefore(node1, afterNode2);

This should work, even if the parents don't match

Can I Use - 86% Nov 2018

For a real Swap of any nodes without cloneNode:

    <div id="d1">D1</div>
    <div id="d2">D2</div>
    <div id="d3">D3</div>

With SwapNode function (using PrototypeJS):

function SwapNode(N1, N2)  {
N1 = $(N1);
N2 = $(N2);

if (N1 && N2) {
    var P1 = N1.parentNode;
    var T1 = document.createElement("span");    
    P1.insertBefore(T1, N1);

    var P2 = N2.parentNode;
    var T2 = document.createElement("span");
    P2.insertBefore(T2, N2);

    P1.insertBefore(N2, T1);
    P2.insertBefore(N1, T2);

SwapNode('d1', 'd2');
SwapNode('d2', 'd3');

Will produce:

<div id="d3">D3</div>
<div id="d1">D1</div>
<div id="d2">D2</div>

I needed a function to swap two arbitrary nodes keeping the swapped elements in the same place in the dom. For example, if a was in position 2 relative to its parent and b was in position 0 relative to its parent, b should replace position 2 of a's former parent and a should replace child 0 of b's former parent.

This is my solution which allows the swap to be in completely different parts of the dom. Note that the swap cannot be a simple three step swap. Each of the two elements need to be removed from the dom first because they may have siblings that would need updating, etc.

Solution: I put in two holder div's to hold the place of each node to keep relative sibling order. I then reinsert each of the nodes in the other's placeholder, keeping the relative position that the swapped node had before the swap. (My solution is similar to Buck's).

function swapDom(a,b) 
     var aParent = a.parentNode;
     var bParent = b.parentNode;

     var aHolder = document.createElement("div");
     var bHolder = document.createElement("div");



Try this method:

  1. Get the parent element
  2. Store the two elements you want to swap
  3. Store the .nextSibling of the node that is last in order eg: [1,2,3,4] => we want to swap 3 & 2 then store nextSibling of 3, '4'.

  4. .insertBefore(3,2);

  5. .insertBefore(2,nextSibling);

Code Explanation

  • val & val2 are the 2 nodes/elements to be swapped
  • equiv(index) gets the present node/element in DOM at index passed as the paramter

NOTE: It will count comment & text elements so take care xD

Hopes this helps :)

function equiv(index){
      return document.querySelectorAll("*"))[index];

function swap (val,val2){
    let _key = val.key;
    let _key_ = val2.key;
    _key_ = _key < _key_ ? _key_+1:_key_;
    let _parent_ = val2.parentElement.valueOf();
    if (val.parentElement.children.length ==1)
    if (_parent_.children.length ==0)
        let _sibling_ = equiv(_key_);