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How to Get CSS Display Value Using JavaScript

Anastasios Antoniadis

Share on X (Twitter) Share on Facebook Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedInWeb development often requires manipulating and querying the style properties of HTML elements to create dynamic and responsive user interfaces. One common task is to retrieve the CSS display value of an element to determine its current visibility state or layout behavior. JavaScript …

Javascript

Web development often requires manipulating and querying the style properties of HTML elements to create dynamic and responsive user interfaces. One common task is to retrieve the CSS display value of an element to determine its current visibility state or layout behavior. JavaScript provides several methods to achieve this, each suitable for different scenarios and needs. This article explores how to access the CSS display property of an element using JavaScript, highlighting practical examples and considerations for effective DOM manipulation.

Understanding the CSS display Property

The CSS display property specifies the display behavior (the type of rendering box) of an element. It can have values like none, block, inline, flex, grid, and more. For instance, setting display: none; on an element hides it from the view, making it not occupy any space in the document layout.

Method 1: Using element.style.display

The simplest way to access an element’s display property is by using the style property of the DOM element. This method directly retrieves the value of the display property if it has been set inline on the element.

const element = document.getElementById('myElement');
const displayValue = element.style.display;

console.log(displayValue); // Outputs the inline display value, if set

Limitations

This approach only works for inline styles set directly on the element (e.g., <div id="myElement" style="display: none;">). It does not account for CSS declared in external stylesheets or <style> blocks, limiting its usefulness for dynamically styled elements.

Method 2: Using window.getComputedStyle()

To retrieve the effective display value of an element, including those applied by external stylesheets or dynamically through JavaScript, you can use the window.getComputedStyle() method. This function returns an object containing the values of all CSS properties of an element, computed by the browser.

const element = document.getElementById('myElement');
const style = window.getComputedStyle(element);
const displayValue = style.display;

console.log(displayValue); // Outputs the effective display value

This method provides a more accurate way to determine the display value of an element, considering all sources of CSS.

Practical Usage Example

Suppose you have a toggle button that shows or hides content when clicked. Determining whether the content is currently visible (to toggle it) would require checking its CSS display value.

<button id="toggleButton">Toggle Content</button>
<div id="content" style="display: none;">Hidden Content</div>

<script>
  document.getElementById('toggleButton').addEventListener('click', () => {
    const content = document.getElementById('content');
    const currentDisplay = window.getComputedStyle(content).display;

    if (currentDisplay === 'none') {
      content.style.display = 'block'; // Show content
    } else {
      content.style.display = 'none'; // Hide content
    }
  });
</script>

In this example, window.getComputedStyle() is used to reliably get the current display value of the content, ensuring the toggle works regardless of how the display property was initially set.

Conclusion

Retrieving the CSS display value of an element is a common requirement in web development for controlling element visibility and behavior. While the element.style.display property offers a straightforward way to access inline display values, window.getComputedStyle() provides a comprehensive solution, capable of retrieving the effective display value from all sources, including external stylesheets. Understanding when and how to use these methods enables developers to build more dynamic, responsive, and user-friendly web applications.

Anastasios Antoniadis
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