Angular is one of the most popular and powerful front-end web development frameworks available today. It offers features like data binding, dependency injection, directives, pipes, and templates that streamline the development process. One of the essential features of Angular is ElementRef. This article will explore ElementRef, its role, and why it is essential for Angular development.

What is ElementRef?

ElementRef is a class in Angular that provides access to the DOM elements of the component. ElementRef is used for several purposes in Angular such as accessing the native DOM element’s properties and methods, modifying the DOM, getting the value of a component input or output property.

Role of ElementRef in Angular:

Angular has a component architecture that utilizes a hierarchy of components to build complex user interfaces. The components are composed of a view template, a class, and optionally, styles. The view template is an HTML-based template that describes the layout of the component. The class is a TypeScript class that corresponds to the component and provides the functionality and data for the component.

The role of ElementRef comes in when the component needs to manipulate elements in the view template. When the component class is instantiated, an instance of ElementRef is created, which holds a reference to the DOM element that the component represents.

The ElementRef class provides the following methods and properties:

• nativeElement: This property returns the actual DOM element that is represented by the component.

• attributes: This property returns a NamedNodeMap object that represents all the attributes of the element.

• getAttribute: This method retrieves the value of the specified attribute of the element.

• setAttribute: This method sets the value of the specified attribute of the element.

• removeAttribute: This method removes the specified attribute from the element.

• classList: This property returns the class name(s) of an element as a DOMTokenList object.

• addEventListener: This method adds an event listener to the element.

Why is ElementRef essential for Angular development?

Angular provides a robust way of managing the DOM tree, but there are situations when direct access to the DOM element is needed. ElementRef is essential in such cases where direct access to the DOM element is needed. ElementRef is used to modify specific attributes of the native DOM element, modifying its properties and methods, and adding or removing events.

Using ElementRef, developers can also manipulate the DOM element to display or hide a particular element, dynamically add and remove CSS classes based on a condition, and focus on an input element programmatically.

An Example for using ElementRef:

Let’s take an example where we need to hide a specific element by default and show it when clicking on a button. Here is the example code:

HTML Code:

This element should be hidden by default

Component Code:

import {Component, ElementRef, ViewChild} from ‘@angular/core’;

selector: ‘app-elementRef-example’,
template: `

This element should be hidden by default

export class ElementRefExampleComponent {
@ViewChild(‘elementToHide’) elementToHide: ElementRef;

showElement() { = ‘block’;

In this example, we define an HTML element div that we want to hide by default. We assign the element a template variable #elementToHide, which we use to reference it from our component. We also define a button that will trigger the showElement() method.

In our component class, we import ElementRef and ViewChild from @angular/core. We decorate our component with the @Component decorator and define the template. Inside the class, we use the @ViewChild decorator to get a reference to our template variable #elementToHide.

We define a showElement() method that sets the display property of the element to ‘block’ when the button is clicked. This will make the element visible on the screen.


1. Can ElementRef be used in services or pipes?

No, ElementRef cannot be used in services or pipes because they do not have access to the view elements or the rendered DOM.

2. What is the difference between ElementRef and Renderer2?

ElementRef provides direct access to the native DOM element, while Renderer2 abstracts the underlying rendering engine, making the code more portable across different platforms and browsers.

3. Is it safe to use ElementRef for Direct DOM manipulation?

No, it is not safe to directly manipulate the DOM using ElementRef. Angular provides a safe way of manipulating the DOM through the Renderer2 service, which prevents cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.

4. Why is access to the native DOM element important?

Access to the native DOM element is important in some scenarios, such as accessing specific properties and methods that are not available through the Angular APIs, applying specific CSS styles, or adding event listeners.


In this article, we explored ElementRef, its role in the Angular framework, and why it is essential for Angular development. ElementRef provides direct access to the native DOM element and allows developers to modify the DOM, manipulate element properties and methods, and add or remove events. ElementRef is essential because it enables developers to access specific features that are not available through the Angular APIs, making the Angular framework even more versatile and flexible for building web applications.

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