Document Object Model Specification

W3C Working Draft 09-Oct-1997

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This specification defines the Document Object Model, a platform- and language-neutral interface that will allow programs and scripts to dynamically access and update the content, structure and style of documents. The Document Object Model provides a standard model of how the objects in an XML or HTML document are put together and a standard interface for accessing and manipulating these objects and their inter-relationships. Vendors can support the DOM as an interface to their proprietary data structures and APIs, and content authors can write to the standard DOM interfaces rather than product-specific APIs, thus increasing interoperability on the Web.

Status of this document

This is a W3C Working Draft for review by W3C members and other interested parties. It is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use W3C Working Drafts as reference material or to cite them as other than "work in progress". This is work in progress and does not imply endorsement by, or the consensus of, either W3C or members of the DOM working group.

This document has been produced as part of the W3C DOM Activity, and is intended as a draft of a proposed recommendation for the Document Object Model. The authors of this document are the DOM WG members. Different chapters of the Document Object Model may have different editors.

The goal of the DOM group is to define a programmatic interface for XML and HTML. The Core DOM therefore provides a low-level set of objects that can represent any structured document. While by itself this interface is capable of representing any HTML or XML document, the core interface is a compact and minimal design for manipulating the document's contents. Depending upon the DOM's usage, the core DOM interface may not be convenient or appropriate for all users. Additional, higher-level interfaces are being designed on top of the core specification that provide a more convenient view into the document. This consists of objects and methods that provide easier and more direct access into specific types of documents.

These higher-level interfaces for HTML and XML are still being discussed within the working group. For the HTML application of the DOM, the HTML Object Model will build on the functionality currently exposed by Netscape Navigator 3.0 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 (level 0) to provide an interface for manipulating HTML documents, including their structure and content. Consistency will be maintained with the existing paradigms for exposing elements in the HTML document (e.g., forms collection) as far as is possible, while still allowing us to define a specification that will be flexible and extensible enough for the future work.

We will update this draft specification on a regular basis.


Please send detailed comments on this document to www-dom@w3.org. We cannot guarantee a personal response but we will try when it is appropriate. Public discussion about the DOM also takes place on this mailing list.

Structure of This Document

The DOM specification is structured as a book. The various parts of the specification are available as separate chapters of the book.

Table of Contents

  1. The DOM Requirements
  2. Core Document Structure and Navigation (level one core)
  3. HTML Document Structure and Navigation (level one HTML, to be completed)
  4. XML Document Structure and Navigation (level one XML, to be completed)
  5. Glossary
  6. Contributors
Chair of the W3C DOM WG: Lauren Wood
W3C staff contact: Arnaud Le Hors