TypeScript: How to get the next/previous sibling of an element

Updated: February 14, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


In the world of web development, navigating through the DOM (Document Object Model) efficiently can sometimes be a daunting task. Yet, understanding how to manipulate and traverse it is crucial for dynamic website functionalities. TypeScript, a superset of JavaScript, adds type-safety and a plethora of other features, making it a preferred choice for many developers. In this guide, we’ll explore how to use TypeScript to retrieve the next or previous sibling of an element, providing several practical code examples.

The Basics

In the DOM tree, elements that share the same parent are considered siblings. Sourcing the next or previous sibling can be particularly useful for tasks such as form validation, navigation menus, or simply manipulating adjacent elements in response to an event. Let’s dive into how this can be accomplished using TypeScript.

Getting The Next Sibling

const getNextSibling = (element: HTMLElement): HTMLElement | null => {
  return element.nextElementSibling as HTMLElement;

// Example Usage
const sampleElement = document.getElementById('sampleElement') as HTMLElement;
const nextSibling = getNextSibling(sampleElement);

Getting The Previous Sibling

const getPreviousSibling = (element: HTMLElement): HTMLElement | null => {
  return element.previousElementSibling as HTMLElement;

// Example Usage
const sampleElement = document.getElementById('sampleElement') as HTMLElement;
const previousSibling = getPreviousSibling(sampleElement);

Type-Safety with TypeScript

One of TypeScript’s selling points is type safety, ensuring the correctness of the type of values used throughout your program. This feature is particularly beneficial when working with the DOM, as it helps prevent common bugs seen when elements may not be what they are assumed to be. Both functions above explicitly state that they return either an HTMLElement or null, making our intentions clear and our code safer.

Enhancing DOM Manipulation

Beyond simply retrieving siblings, TypeScript allows for richer interactions with the DOM. This can include modifying attributes, listening for events, or even inserting new elements. All these actions can benefit from TypeScript’s features, ensuring a robust and error-resistant codebase.

Listening for Events

const attachEventToElement = (element: HTMLElement, eventType: string, callback: EventListenerOrEventListenerObject) => {
  element.addEventListener(eventType, callback);

// Adding a click event
const buttonElement = document.getElementById('myButton') as HTMLElement;
attachEventToElement(buttonElement, 'click', () => console.log('Button clicked!'));

Modifying Attributes

const setElementAttribute = (element: HTMLElement, attribute: string, value: string) => {
  element.setAttribute(attribute, value);

// Example Usage
const divElement = document.getElementById('myDiv') as HTMLElement;
setElementAttribute(div('Element A', 'id', 'newID'));

Use Cases and Best Practices

Understanding how to manipulate sibling elements efficiently can significantly improve the user interaction on a webpage. For instance, adjusting styles of adjacent elements based on user actions (e.g., highlighting the next item in a list when one is selected) can enhance user experience. When using TypeScript to accomplish these tasks, there are several best practices to keep in mind:

  • Always type-check your elements to ensure you’re working with the expected DOM node.
  • Use TypeScript’s strict null checks to avoid errors when elements may not exist.
  • Leverage TypeScript’s advanced features, such as generics and type guards, to create more flexible and reusable code.

In conclusion, TypeScript offers a powerful set of tools for DOM manipulation, including getting the next and previous siblings of an element. With type safety and TypeScript’s advanced features, you can ensure that your web applications are robust, error-free, and offer an enhanced user experience. Remember, the key to mastering DOM manipulation with TypeScript is practice and continued learning.