When I first started messing around with the web I fell in love with jQuery. It felt so powerful and versatile, and simplified the code I was writing a lot.

The idea I have had the time was that Javascript ~= jQuery.

Some time has passed, and now I spend most of my time working in environments where it’s clear that there’s no one size fits all framework, and that having to import a monolithic massive framework just to do one tiny thing is almost certainly a bad idea.

Recently, working on a static blog based on a template, I had write a bit of Javascript to select all links that are do not target locations in the page and make them target="_blank".

What I did at first was:

$('a:not([href^="#"])').attr("target", "_blank");

Please not a:not([href^="#"]), which is in my opinion a very nice combo of CSS selectors :)

I was pleased with the one-liner, but the fact that jQuery was involved to do something that simple smelled a bit.

The way to do the same thing in vanilla Javascript require a bit more typing, but is simple nevertheless.

var external_links = document.querySelectorAll('a:not([href^="#"])');
external_links.forEach(function(link) {
    link.setAttribute("target", "_blank"); 

Update: the snippet above won’t work. Check this post to find out why.

This is the correct version:

var external_links = document.querySelectorAll('a:not([href^="#"])');
for (var i = 0; i < external_links.length; i++) {
   external_links[i].setAttribute("target", "_blank");