jQuery SVG, why can't I addClass? – Dev

The best answers to the question “jQuery SVG, why can't I addClass?” in the category Dev.


I am using jQuery SVG. I can’t add or remove a class to an object. Anyone know my mistake?

The SVG:

<rect class="jimmy" id="p5" x="200" y="200" width="100" height="100" />

The jQuery that won’t add the class:

$(".jimmy").click(function() {

I know the SVG and jQuery are working together fine because I can target the object and fire an alert when it’s clicked:

$(".jimmy").click(function() {
    alert('Handler for .click() called.');


There is element.classList in the DOM API that works for both HTML and SVG elements. No need for jQuery SVG plugin or even jQuery.

$(".jimmy").click(function() {


Edit 2016: read the next two answers.

  • JQuery 3 fixes the underlying issue
  • Vanilla JS: element.classList.add('newclass') works in modern browsers

JQuery (less than 3) can’t add a class to an SVG.

.attr() works with SVG, so if you want to depend on jQuery:

// Instead of .addClass("newclass")
$("#item").attr("class", "oldclass newclass");
// Instead of .removeClass("newclass")
$("#item").attr("class", "oldclass");

And if you don’t want to depend on jQuery:

var element = document.getElementById("item");
// Instead of .addClass("newclass")
element.setAttribute("class", "oldclass newclass");
// Instead of .removeClass("newclass")
element.setAttribute("class", "oldclass");


If you have dynamic classes or don’t know what classes could be already applied then this method I believe is the best approach:

// addClass
$('path').attr('class', function(index, classNames) {
    return classNames + ' class-name';

// removeClass
$('path').attr('class', function(index, classNames) {
    return classNames.replace('class-name', '');


jQuery 3 does not have this problem

One of the changes listed on the jQuery 3.0 revisions is:

add SVG class manipulation (#2199, 20aaed3)

One solution for this issue would be to upgrade to jQuery 3. It works great:

var flip = true;
setInterval(function() {
    // Could use toggleClass, but demonstrating addClass.
    if (flip) {
        $('svg circle').addClass('green');
    else {
        $('svg circle').removeClass('green');
    flip = !flip;
}, 1000);
svg circle {
    fill: red;
    stroke: black;
    stroke-width: 5;
svg circle.green {
    fill: green;
<script src="https://code.jquery.com/jquery-3.0.0.min.js"></script>

    <circle cx="50" cy="50" r="25" />

The Problem:

The reason the jQuery class manipulation functions do not work with the SVG elements is because jQuery versions prior to 3.0 use the className property for these functions.

Excerpt from jQuery attributes/classes.js:

cur = elem.nodeType === 1 && ( elem.className ?
    ( " " + elem.className + " " ).replace( rclass, " " ) :
    " "

This behaves as expected for HTML elements, but for SVG elements className is a little different. For an SVG element, className is not a string, but an instance of SVGAnimatedString.

Consider the following code:

var test_div = document.getElementById('test-div');
var test_svg = document.getElementById('test-svg');
#test-div {
    width: 200px;
    height: 50px;
    background: blue;
<div class="test div" id="test-div"></div>

<svg width="200" height="50" viewBox="0 0 200 50">
  <rect width="200" height="50" fill="green" class="test svg" id="test-svg" />

If you run this code you will see something like the following in your developer console.

test div
SVGAnimatedString { baseVal="test svg",  animVal="test svg"}

If we were to cast that SVGAnimatedString object to a string as jQuery does, we would have [object SVGAnimatedString], which is where jQuery fails.

How the jQuery SVG plugin handles this:

The jQuery SVG plugin works around this by patching the relevant functions to add SVG support.

Excerpt from jQuery SVG jquery.svgdom.js:

function getClassNames(elem) {
    return (!$.svg.isSVGElem(elem) ? elem.className :
        (elem.className ? elem.className.baseVal : elem.getAttribute('class'))) || '';

This function will detect if an element is an SVG element, and if it is it will use the baseVal property of the SVGAnimatedString object if available, before falling back on the class attribute.

jQuery’s historical stance on the issue:

jQuery currently lists this issue on their Won’t Fix page. Here is the relevant parts.

SVG/VML or Namespaced Elements Bugs

jQuery is primarily a library for the HTML DOM, so most problems related to SVG/VML documents or namespaced elements are out of scope. We do try to address problems that “bleed through” to HTML documents, such as events that bubble out of SVG.

Evidently jQuery considered full SVG support outside the scope of the jQuery core, and better suited for plugins.