Using jQuery for evil

Sometimes you find a tool that's not just good for run-of-the-mill, intended-purpose work, but also for fixing up some bad situations.  jQuery is one such tool.

Some work I'm currently doing involves presenting nicely styled pages to the user of a web site.  The html I have to work with is not always ideal and needs to be massaged.  Because I'm dealing with templates, it's often simply impossible for me to change the html - I can only try to modify the framework around the bits of html I'm given.

Enter jQuery.

Provided the html I get is more or less xhtml compliant, I've got a Document Object Model (DOM) I can work with.  Using jQuery, I've found that I can manipulate this to my heart's desire.

Let's say I end up with an table which has an extra row between the header row and the first actual row of data.  No problem!

$(document).ready(function() {
    $('#mytable tr:nth-child(2)').remove();

And that's it! Of course you may get a flicker of the incorrect display because we're making the change only when the DOM is completely built, but we're not really choosy in this situation.

Let's try something a bit harder.  How about reformatting a table which contains a single column for debits and credits; the debits formatted with a red <FONT> tag.  And before you ask, yes, I'm serious.

We want this table to have a separate column for debits and credits.  Again, enter jQuery.

$(document).ready(function() {
	// first, deal with the headers
	var cell = $('#mytable tr:eq(0) td:eq(2)');  // look at the second cell (contains debits/credits)
	var w = cell.attr('width').substr(0, cell.attr('width').length-1);  // I know width is a percentage
	cell.attr('width',''+(w/2)+'%');	// half the width
	cell.text('Credits').before('Debits'); // split Debits and Credits header

	// now deal with each non-header row
	$('#mytable tr:not(:first)').each(function()
		$(this).children('td:eq(2)').before(' '); // insert the new column
		var redVal = $(this).children('td:eq(3)').html(); // get current column value
		if (redVal && (redVal.toUpperCase().indexOf('COLOR=RED') > -1 || redVal.toUpperCase().indexOf('COLOR="RED"') > -1)) // if it's red
			redVal = $(this).children('td:eq(3)').children('font').text(); // get the actual value to write
			$(this).children('td:eq(2)').html(' '+redVal+''); // write to the debit column
			$(this).children('td:eq(3)').html('nbsp;'); // erase the credit column

Now this doesn't give me beautiful xhtml, and I'm never going to feel happy about how this works, but it does the job.

Fun stuff.

Damian Brady

I'm an Australian developer, speaker, and author specialising in DevOps, MLOps, developer process, and software architecture. I love Azure DevOps, GitHub Actions, and reducing process waste.