Is selectedOptions broken or…?

Note: this question has nothing to do with Knockout.js, but it’s about the selectedOptions attribute of <select> elements instead. This is the reference:

I think it’s a nice feature for Javascript developers. The support is quite limited, but it’s growing anyway. Chrome, Opera and Safari should already support it.

The problem is that I can’t figure out how it works. The behaviour should be quite straightforward, yielding a live collection of the selected options, but it turns out to be not the case. You’d imagine that selectedOptions changes everytime the user selects an option, right? Wrong. I’ve prepared a test case:

In this example, Opera 11.64 always returns the first value selected, no matter what you do after, while Chrome 21 dev and 19 stable have an odd behaviour. Do the following steps:

  1. Select ‘One’. In both output and console you get “One”, as expected.
  2. Select ‘Two’ too, using Ctrl. In console you get “One,Two”, in output it’s still “One”.
  3. Select ‘Three’ too. In console it’s “One,Two,Three”, in output it’s “One,Two”.
  4. Now select ‘Two’ only. In console you get “Two”, in output “Two,,” (notice the two commas).

However, if you comment out the console.log line, you always get the correct output. You can get the expected behaviour in both console and output if you swap the two instructions, or if you store the value in a separated string, as in this:

So, am I missing something about selectedOptions? Is it too soon to rely on this property, that probably has a buggy implementation? Is console.log creating the issue in Chrome? Is there something I don’t know about HTMLCollections?

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I don’t have Safari installed, can someone check its behaviour?

UPDATE 18/2/2013: I don’t know when things have changed, but both Chrome 24.0.1312.57 and Opera 12.14 seems to work fine now. Firefox 18.0.2 and Internet Explorer 10 still have to implement the property.

UPDATE 17/9/2013: Firefox 24 and IE 11 preview still have to support the property. This is an easy workaround for Firefox and IE8-11:

Object.defineProperty(HTMLSelectElement.prototype, "selectedOptions", {
    get: (function() {
        try {
            return function() {
                return this.querySelectorAll(":checked");
        } catch (e) {
            return function() {
                if (!this.multiple) {
                    return this.selectedIndex >= 0
                            ? [this.options[this.selectedIndex]] : [];
                for (var i = 0, a = []; i < this.options.length; i++)
                    if (this.options[i].selected) a.push(this.options[i]);
                return a;

For IE8 it returns just an Array and not a NodeList, though.

UPDATE 28/5/2014: It looks like Firefox started implementing selectedOptions since r25.

It seems that the problem is a bit deeper than a simple bug. The fact that both WebKit and Presto failed to support selectedOptions correctly gives us the hint that it depends on the fact that the property is supposed to be a HTMLCollection.

Now, HTMLCollections have their live behaviour because they’re invalidated by the rendering engine when something happens to the DOM (the change of a class, the removal of a node and so on). But the selected property of an option does not trigger the invalidation of the collection, thus making it completely unreliable.

I guess the problem here is to make a new way live collections are invalidated, and it may be not very simple since it may affect the whole way the DOM is interpreted and handled.

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At the present time, Chrome 21.0.1180.4 has the property removed.

The answers/resolutions are collected from stackoverflow, are licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0 .

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