TUTORIAL: Filter Content With jQuery.filter() & jQuery Selectors

I had a project where I needed to create functionality that filtered out specific page content on a link click. So if the page had three different content groups, clicking on a link had to display one group while removing the other two from view.

I built the functionality using data attributes, jQuery’s method, and some jQuery selector methods. There are certainly different ways to filter page content, but this is how I did it.

Table of Contents

  1. A (very) brief look at the CSS
  2. A first look at the HTML
  3. The 2 sections of the HTML
  4. The binding of the two HTML sections
  5. A first look at the JavaScript
  6. Feature-detect for data attributes
  7. Using jQuery attribute selectors
  8. Adding & removing content
  9. Show all the content with a click
  10. Some notes
  11. Conclusion

A (very) brief look at the CSS

We’re using three files for our code: index.html, styles.css and main.js. All the files are in the same directory.

The things in styles.css are here to give the page some style and have nothing to do with the functionality. We won’t discuss them in depth, but here they are:

body {
  background-color: rgba(60, 105, 145, 1);
  color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 1);
  font-family: 'Helvetica Neue',Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;
  font-size: 20px;

a {
  margin:0 5px;

a:link {
  color: rgba(100, 255, 0, 1);

a:visited {
  color: rgba(100, 255, 0, 1);

a:hover {
  color: rgba(0, 255, 193, 1);
  text-decoration: none;

A first look at the HTML

The index.html file looks like this…

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <title>Filter Content On A Click With jQuery</title>
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="styles.css" media="all" />
    <h1>Filter by team</h1>

    <!-- The Teams -->
    <a href="#" class="btn-player" data-team="chelsea">Chelsea</a>
    <a href="#" class="btn-player" data-team="psg">Paris St-Germain</a>
    <a href="#" class="btn-player" data-team="real-madrid">Real Madrid</a>
    <a href="#" class="btn-player" data-team="barcelona">Barcelona</a>
    <a href="#" id="btn-show-all">SHOW ALL PLAYERS</a>

    <!-- The Players -->
    <div class="player" data-players-team="chelsea">Cesc Fabregas</div>
    <div class="player" data-players-team="psg">Zlatan Ibrahimović</div>
    <div class="player" data-players-team="real-madrid">Cristiano Ronaldo</div>
    <div class="player" data-players-team="chelsea">Didier Drogba</div>
    <div class="player" data-players-team="chelsea">John Terry</div>
    <div class="player" data-players-team="barcelona">Lionel Messi</div>
    <div class="player" data-players-team="real-madrid">Sergio Ramos</div>
    <div class="player" data-players-team="chelsea">Thibault Courtois</div>
    <div class="player" data-players-team="psg">Thiago Motta</div>

    <!-- Note that we're using the oldIE-friendly version of jQuery -->
    <script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-1.11.1.js"></script>
    <script src="main.js"></script>

The 2 sections of the HTML

The page has two distinct sections: a list of <a> tags at the top and a list of <div> tags at the bottom. Except for the last one, every <a> in the top list has a class name of btn-player and a data attribute called data-team.

Notice that the values of the data-team attribute differ across the links that have it. There are four different values: chelsea, psg, real-madrid and barcelona.

At the bottom of this list is a link with an ID of #btn-show-all. We’ll build functionality where clicking on this link will add back any content that has been removed.

Every item in the bottom list is a <div> with a class name of player and a data attribute called data-players-team. The player class name is important and will be discussed but for now, notice that the values of the data-players-team attribute is shared across some of the <div> tags.

For example: four tags have their data-players-team value set to chelsea, two of them have their attribute set to psg. And so on and so on.

The binding of the two HTML sections

The values of the data-players-team attribute in the section below matches the value of one of the data-team attributes in the section above. So the four tags with a data-players-team attribute with a value of chelsea match the value of the data-team attribute in the first <a> tag: it’s value is also chelsea.

These shared values create a binding between the two sections, As a result, when of a link is clicked, it will understand that it’s their bound <div> tags that should be visible.

A first look at the JavaScript

But this is only a small part of the binding process…jQuery does a lot here, too. That code is in main.js and looks like this:

$( ".btn-player" ).click(function(){

  var getLinkType, getElType, getElNotType;

  // Feature-detect for dataset support
  if( !this.dataset ) { // If IE 10 or lower
    getLinkType = this.getAttribute( "data-team" );
   } else { // For other browsers
     getLinkType = this.dataset.team;

  getElType = $( "div[data-players-team~="+getLinkType+"]" );

  getElNotType = $( "div[data-players-team!="+getLinkType+"]" );

   $( ".player" ).filter( getElNotType ).css( "display", "none" );
   $( ".player" ).filter( getElType ).css( "display", "block" );


$( "#btn-show-all" ).click(function() {
  $( ".player" ).css( "display", "block" );

Quite a bit to discuss here…let’s break it down:

$( ".btn-player" ).click(function(){

There are four links at the top with a class name of btn-player. Whenever one of those buttons is clicked, a function performs some tasks.

var getLinkType, getElType, getElNotType;

List three variables in a single var pattern for future use.

Feature-detect for data attributes

// Feature-detect for dataset support
if( !this.dataset ) { // If IE 10 or lower
  getLinkType = this.getAttribute( "data-team" );
} else { // For other browsers
  getLinkType = this.dataset.team;

All the links with a btn-player class have a data-team attribute. When one of those links gets clicked, we need to find that attribute’s value and store it in the previously-created getLinkType variable.

We can find the value by looking directly at link’s dataset property by saying this.dataset. But dataset isn’t supported in Internet Explorer 10 and lower, so we need to provide fallback code for those browsers by applying feature detection.

We’ll start by checking to see if the clicked-on link does NOT have a dataset property and if it doesn’t, we’ll use the getAttribute() method to find the value of data-team and store it in the getLinkType variable. But for other browsers, we can use dataset to do the finding and storing.

For a more in-depth discussion about data attributes and getAttribute(), read my data attributes post.

Using jQuery attribute selectors

getElType = $( "div[data-players-team~="+getLinkType+"]" );

jQuery’s “Attribute Contains” selector functionality can help us here. jQuery has a lot of uses for this selector but in this case, we’re using the Attribute Contains Word Selector.

In this case, “Attribute Contains” uses ~ to look any <div> whose data-players-team value EXACTLY matches the value of getLinkType. The total <div> tags that match this criteria are stored in the previously-created getElType variable.

In other words, if the .btn-player button that gets clicked has a data-team value of chelsea, then chelsea gets stored in getLinkType. Then, the “Attribute Contains” code will look for any <div> whose data-players-team value matches chelsea…it will find four <div> tags in this case.

getElNotType = $( "div[data-players-team!="+getLinkType+"]" );

Almost the same code as just-discussed except we’re now using jQuery’s Attribute Not Equal Selector (note the “!” that’s now before the “=” in the code instead of “~”). As you’ve may have guessed, this code is looking for all the <div> tags that have data-players-team values that do NOT match getLinkType, then stores them in a variable called getElNotType.

Adding & removing content

$( ".player" ).filter( getElNotType ).css( "display", "none" );

Lots jQuery chaining now…

All the <div> tags at the bottom have a class called .player and we’re finding them in the DOM with jQuery. Plus, they’re all contained in either the getElType or the getElNotType variable.

We first, use jQuery’s .filter() method to “filter”, or “pick out” all the .player elements that are contained in getElNotType, which are the ones we DON’T want to display. From there, we use jQuery’s .css() method to apply an inline style of display:none to these particular <div> tags, removing them from view if they’re not removed already.

$( ".player" ).filter( getElType ).css( "display", "block" );

Next, we do the opposite: we look for any <div> with a .player class and use .filter() to filter out those stored in getElType, which are the ones we DO want to display. Then use .css() to apply an inline style of display:block to these particular <div> tags, making them visible if they’re not visible already.

Show all the content with a click

$( "#btn-show-all" ).click(function() {
  $( ".player" ).css( "display", "block" );

We’ll end our code with functionality that makes any hidden <div> tags visible. The very last link at the top of the page has an ID of #btn-show-all: when clicked, it uses jQuery to find all the .player elements and if any are set to display:none they’ll be set to display:block.

Some Notes

That’s it for the code….here are a few interesting things to note:

  • This code does not work on IE 8 and lower…and I don’t care.
  • We only used two jQuery attribute selectors here but there are many more and they’re all useful. Read about the jQuery Selector API.
  • While we had to do dataset feature detection for the data-team attribute, take note that we didn’t have to do that for data-players-team. This is because we had to find the exact value of data-team but with data-players-team, we just need to see if it existed in the DOM.
  • The part of the code that uses $.filter() could be more elegant. It’s written in a way that automatically assumes that all the .player elements aren’t in view, which isn’t the case. So it’s probably neater to use something like if/else to check the DOM and see what elements are and aren’t visible. But like any DOM checking, a search like that is a bit of a performance hit so it’s left out of the code for that reason.


I may or may not do some performance tests to see how much of a hit I’ll take doing an if/else check but either way, I found this code to be a neater way of doing things when compared to some other implementations I commonly use. I like what I did here and will probably use the pattern again.

Again, there may be other ways to do this…feel free to share alternatives.

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