How to split a block of HTML with Cheerio in NodeJS

03 January 2020   0 comments   Javascript, Node

cheerio is a great Node library for processing HTML. It's faster than JSDOM and years and years of jQuery usage makes the API feel yummily familiar.

What if you have a piece of HTML that you want to split up into multiple blocks? For example, you have this:

<div>Prelude</div>

<h2>First Header</h2>

<p>Paragraph <b>here</b>.</p>
<p>Another paragraph.</p>

<h2 id="second">Second Header</h2>

<ul>
  <li>One</li>
  <li>Two</li>
</ul>
<blockquote>End quote!</blockquote>

and you want to get this split by the <h2> tags so you end up with 3 (in this example) distinct blocks of HTML, like this:

first one

<div>Prelude</div>

second one

<h2>First Header</h2>

<p>Paragraph <b>here</b>.</p>
<p>Another paragraph.</p>

third one

<h2 id="second">Second Header</h2>

<ul>
  <li>One</li>
  <li>Two</li>
</ul>
<blockquote>End quote!</blockquote>

You could try to cast the regex spell on that and try to, I don't know, split the string by the </h2>. But it's risky and error prone because (although a bit unlikely in this simple example) get caught up in <h2>...</h2> tags that are nested inside something else. Also, proper parsing almost always wins in the long run over regexes.

Use cheerio

This is how I solved it and hopefully A) you can copy and benefit, or B) someone tells me there's already a much better way.

What you do is walk the DOM root nodes, one by one, and keep filling a buffer and then yield individual new cheerio instances.

const html = `
<div>Prelude</div>

<h2>First Header</h2>
<p>Paragraph <b>here</b>.</p>
<p>Another paragraph.</p>
<!-- comment -->

<h2 id="second">Second Header</h2>
<ul>
  <li>One</li>
  <li>Two</li>
</ul>
<blockquote>End quote!</blockquote>
`;

// load the raw HTML
// it needs to all be wrapped in *one* big wrapper
const $ = cheerio.load(`<div id="_body">${html}</div>`);

// the end goal
const blocks = [];

// the buffer
const section = cheerio
  .load("<div></div>", { decodeEntities: false })("div")
  .eq(0);

const iterable = [...$("#_body")[0].childNodes];
let c = 0;
iterable.forEach(child => {
  if (child.tagName === "h2") {
    if (c) {
      blocks.push(section.clone());
      section.empty();
      c = 0; // reset the counter
    }
  }
  c++;
  section.append(child);
});
if (c) {
  // stragglers
  blocks.push(section.clone());
}

// Test the result
const blocksAsStrings = blocks.map(block => block.html());
console.log(blocksAsStrings.length);
// 3
console.log(blocksAsStrings);
// [
//   '\n<div>Prelude</div>\n\n',
//   '<h2>First Header</h2>\n' +
//     '<p>Paragraph <b>here</b>.</p>\n' +
//     '<p>Another paragraph.</p>\n' +
//     '<!-- comment -->\n' +
//     '\n',
//   '<h2 id="second">Second Header</h2>\n' +
//     '<ul>\n' +
//     '  <li>One</li>\n' +
//     '  <li>Two</li>\n' +
//     '</ul>\n' +
//     '<blockquote>End quote!</blockquote>\n'
// ]

In this particular implementation the choice of splitting is by the every h2 tag. If you want to split by anything else, go ahead and adjust the conditional there where it's currently doing if (child.tagName === "h2") {.

Also, what you do with the blocks is up to you. Perhaps you need them as strings, then you use the blocks.map(block => block.html()). Otherwise, if it serves your needs they can remain as individual cheerio instances that you can do whatever with.

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