How to check if an element matches the :empty pseudo-class in pure JS?

Tags: javascript,html,css,css3,css-selectors

Problem :

How can I check, in pure JavaScript (no jQuery, no libraries), if a given HTML element is empty? My definition of "empty" is the same as the CSS :empty pseudo-class. So, if a given element would match the :empty selector, then I want to know about it.

Solution :

function isEmpty (el) {
    if (!el.hasChildNodes()) return true;

    for (var node = el.firstChild; node = node.nextSibling;) {
        var type = node.nodeType;
        if (type === 1 && !isEmpty(node) || // another element
            type === 3 && node.nodeValue) { // text node
            return false;
    return true;

As per the CSS spec, this will return true if the given element has no non-empty child nodes. Long-awaited JSFiddle demo available.

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