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It is very common to want to be able to extract a portion of a document's tree or to create a new fragment of a document. Imagine implementing a user command like cut or rearranging a document by moving fragments around. It is desirable to have an object which can hold such fragments and it is quite natural to use a DOMNode for this purpose. While it is true that a
DOMDocument object could fulfil this role, a
DOMDocument object can potentially be a heavyweight object, depending on the underlying implementation. What is really needed for this is a very lightweight object.
DOMDocumentFragment is such an object.
Furthermore, various operations -- such as inserting nodes as children of another
DOMNode -- may take
DOMDocumentFragment objects as arguments; this results in all the child nodes of the
DOMDocumentFragment being moved to the child list of this node.
The children of a
DOMDocumentFragment node are zero or more nodes representing the tops of any sub-trees defining the structure of the document.
DOMDocumentFragment nodes do not need to be well-formed XML documents (although they do need to follow the rules imposed upon well-formed XML parsed entities, which can have multiple top nodes). For example, a
DOMDocumentFragment might have only one child and that child node could be a
DOMText node. Such a structure model represents neither an HTML document nor a well-formed XML document.
DOMDocumentFragment is inserted into a
DOMDocument (or indeed any other
DOMNode that may take children) the children of the
DOMDocumentFragment and not the
DOMDocumentFragment itself are inserted into the
DOMNode. This makes the
DOMDocumentFragment very useful when the user wishes to create nodes that are siblings; the
DOMDocumentFragment acts as the parent of these nodes so that the user can use the standard methods from the
DOMNode interface, such as