Unlock the Power of Mutation Observer

What is Mutation Observer and how to use it?

Quick Summary: The Mutation Observer is a JS API that enables developers to track and respond to DOM changes dynamically. It offers a flexible and efficient alternative to outdated techniques like polling and deprecated mutation events. With Mutation Observer, web developers can ensure smoother and more interactive user experiences by efficiently monitoring modifications to the structure and content of a web page in real time. This article explores the concept of Mutation Observer in detail.


Ensuring smooth and dynamic user experiences is a constant priority for web developers. One crucial aspect of achieving this is efficiently monitoring changes to the Document Object Model (DOM) and responding appropriately. In a nutshell, keeping track of all the changes happening to the DOM tree is challenging. Hence, this is where the Mutation Observer comes into play.

The Mutation Observer is a reliable JavaScript API. And Skilled JavaScript Developers can observe and respond to changes made to the DOM in real time. Introduced as part of the DOM4 specification, Mutation Observer provides a flexible and efficient way to keep track of modifications to the structure and content of a web page without resorting to outdated techniques like polling or using deprecated mutation events.

If you are searching for a way to add powerful dynamic functionality to your JavaScript applications, MutationObserver is your tool.

With this blog, you will understand the concept of Mutation Observer in detail.

You also need to understand how different Javascript Frameworks work with Mutation observers.

Without any delay, let’s get the started!

What Is Mutation Observer

Mutation observers is a built-in object that observes DOM Changes and calls or fires a callback function to react to the changes in the DOM Tree.

We can say that a Mutation observers will allow you to keep the watch on Element changes in DOM.

How To Use Mutation Observer:

1. Step 1

  • Create a callback function that will execute DOM Changes.
  • Code:
    const callback = function (mutationsList, observer) {

2. Step 2

  • Create an Observer instance and pass it to the callback function.
  • Here, We will use the MutationObserver() constructor to create an object.
  • Code:
    let observer = new MutationObserver(callback);

3. Step 3

  • Next call observe() function to observe DOM changes.
  • Code:
    observer.observe(targetNode, Config);
  • targetNode:
    • This is the element on which the observer will keep watch when any changes are detected.
  • config:
    • It’s a simple boolean option “What kind of changes to detect”
  • Example:
    • childList – Detect changes in direct children of targetNode.
    • subtree – Detect changes in all descendants of the node.
    • attributes – Detect Attribute changes.
    • attributeFilter – It provides a filter to detect particular attribute changes.
    • characterData – which is used to observe the changes of text content.
    • attributeOldValue – If it’s true, then It’ll pass old and new attribute data to the callback function, else pass only new data.
    • characterDataOldValue – If it’s true, then It’ll pass old and new characterData to the callback function, else pass only new data.

4. Step 4

  • pass in the target node and configuration
  • Code:
    observer.observe(targetNode, config);

Code Block:

// define the target node
				var targetNode = document.body;
				// configuration of the observer
				const config = { childList: true, characterData: true, subtree: true, attributes: true, };
				// callback function
				const callback = function (mutationsList, observer) {
				console.log('Changes Detected');
				// Create observer instance
				const observer = new MutationObserver(callback);
				// pass in the target node and configuration
				observer.observe(targetNode, config);

disconnect() Method

  • MutationObserver provides a disconnect() function to stop observing.
  • Code:

Where is it required?

  • You want to let your web app visitor know that the page he’s on has changed.
  • You’re working on a JavaScript framework that dynamically loads modules based on DOM(Document Object Model) changes.
  • When you are trying to implement undo/redo functionality. By using mutation observer, you know at any given point what changes have been made, so you can easily undo them.
  • You can continuously observe the dynamic content updating in DOM(Document Object Model).

Alternatives :

  • 1. Polling

    • You can create a task that checks for updates regularly using the browser setInterval WebAPI. Naturally, the performance of the web app/website suffers greatly as a result of this strategy.
  • 2. MutationEvents

    • Mutation events are fired on every single change in the DOM But It causes performance issues and also Modern Browsers do not support MutationEvents.
  • 3. CSS animations

    • The basic concept is to construct an animation that is triggered once an element is added to the DOM. The animationstart event is emitted when the animation begins; if you’ve attached an event handler to that event, you’ll know exactly when the element is added to the DOM. The duration of the animation should be so short that it is virtually undetectable to the user.

First, we need a parent element, inside which, we’d like to listen to node insertions:

<div id=”target-element”></div>
				To get a handle on node insertion, To master node insertion, we'll need to put up a series of keyframe animations that will begin when the node is inserted:
				@keyframes node-Inserted { 
				from { opacity: 0.99; }
				to { opacity: 1; } 

After you’ve built the keyframes, you’ll need to apply the animation to the objects you want to listen for. Small durations are important since they reduce the animation footprint in the browser:

#target-element * {
				animation-duration: 0.001s;
				animation-name: nodeInserted;

This adds the animation to all of the target-child element’s nodes. The insertion event will fire after the animation is finished.

We’ll need a JavaScript function to act as a listener for events. The initial event.animationName check must be performed within the function to guarantee that the animation is the one we want.

var insertionListener = function(event) { 
				if (event.animationName === "nodeInserted") {
				console.log("Node Inserted: " + event.target);

Now, add the event listener to the parent:

document.addEventListener(“animationstart”, insertionListener, false);

Over the above-mentioned solutions, MutationObserver has a lot of advantages. In essence, it covers every possible change in the DOM, and it’s far more efficient because it fires the changes in batches. Furthermore, all major modern browsers support MutationObserver.


In conclusion, Staying ahead of the curve is essential for creating excellent user experiences in the continuously changing world of web development. The Mutation Observer emerges as a game-changing JavaScript API, offering developers an efficient and sophisticated way to observe DOM changes. We can ensure smoother, more interactive web applications by bidding farewell to outdated practices and embracing this modern approach.

Throughout this exploration, we’ve discovered the significance of Mutation Observer in monitoring and responding to real-time modifications to web page structures and content. It is an essential tool for tracking DOM changes without burdening applications with unnecessary overhead because of its flexibility and agility.


A JavaScript API called Mutation Observer keeps track of changes to the DOM (Document Object Model) in real time. It allows developers to respond dynamically to a web page’s structure and content modifications.

Mutation Observer offers a more efficient and flexible approach than traditional methods like polling and deprecated mutation events. It helps avoid unnecessary resource consumption and ensures a faster response to DOM changes.

Using Mutation Observer, web developers can create more responsive and interactive applications. It helps keep track of changes, facilitates smoother user experiences, and simplifies the process of handling dynamic content.

Mutation Observer is handy for scenarios such as live updating of data-driven web applications, implementing infinite scrolling, dynamically adjusting UI elements based on changes in the DOM, and triggering actions in response to specific changes in the web page.

Implementing Mutation Observer involves creating an observer instance with specific configuration options to target the elements you want to observe. Then, you define a callback function to handle the changes detected by the observer. Finally, you start watching the target elements, and the callback will be triggered whenever changes occur.