DOM questions - unowned Nodes

Jon Dart jdart at
Wed Dec 9 17:41:31 GMT 1998

I have a couple of question about DOM. Under what conditions
can you have a Node with a null ownerDocument? Also, how can
you transfer ownership of a Node to another document? 

Since you can't ever insert a DocumentFragment itself into a
document, it doesn't make sense to me for a DocumentFragment
to have an "owner" document. However, the spec indicates
that the only way you can create a DocumentFragment is via a
factory method off a Document. Also, in the description of
the ownerDocument attribute, the only case mentioned in
which it can be null is the case of a Document node. 

It would make sense to me to be able to "cut" some nodes
out of a document, add them to a DocumentFragment (in which
case their ownerDocument becomes null), and then
subsequently "paste" them, possibly into another document,
at which point they would have an ownerDocument again.

If I can't transfer ownership of nodes this way, I don't see
how you could build a cut and paste editor. But the DOM
appears to disallow this. E.g. ownerDocument is a readonly
attribute. And if you can't detach the nodes from their
owner document, it seems that the paste would have to fail

Another related problem occurs when you have a server
application that may deliver DOM objects other that whole
documents to a remote client. If you transmit a NodeList or
DocumentFragment, it doesn't really have an owner when it
arrives on the client end, because the document of which
it is a part is on the server and is not serialized. This
appears to be a useful thing to do but, again, DOM doesn't
seem to allow unowned Nodes.

Comments (and especially clarification) on these issues 
would be appreciated.

Jon Dart                               jdart at
TIBCO Software Inc.              650-846-5099

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