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Restrict an Angular.js Directive to a Specific HTML  Tag

How to create AngularJS directives that are only allowed for a specific HTML element or tag.

This is the best way I’ve found to create an Angular.js directive that’s restricted to a specific HTML element or tag.

Angular.js Example

First, here’s a quick code sample of the approach I use. An explanation can be found below.


 * Main Application Definition
var ngApp = angular.module( "ngApp", []);

 * Relative Anchors
ngApp.directive( 'relativeHref', [ '$location', '$log', function( $location, $log ) {
    var link = function( scope, element, attrs ) {

        // Verify this directive has been used with a valid HTML element
        if ( element[ 0 ].tagName !== "A" ) {
            $log.warn( '[relative-href] directives are only allowed for <a> tags.' );

        // Directive logic...
        var host = $location.protocol() + '//' + $;
        var href = attrs.relativeHref.replace(host, '');
        attrs.$set( 'href', href );

    return {
        link: link,
        restrict: 'A'
} ] );


<!DOCTYPE html>
    <script src=""></script>
    <script src="script.js"></script>

<body ng-app="mainApp">
    <a relative-href="">Relative Plunker Edit Link</a>
    <p relative-href="">Relative Link Not Allowed for Paragraphs...</p>


There’s no directive configuration option in Angular.js to do this, but I recommend adding the restrict: 'A' to your directives config so that it only matches an attribute name. Once we have that in place the key aspect that makes this happen is this line:

if ( element[ 0 ].tagName !== "A" ) {

Which basically checks the HTML element and provides a block if it’s not an anchor. I like to combine this with the $log service built-in to angular, which is basically a mirror of the browsers console object with added benefits. Using the $log.warn() method I throw a warning to the browser console when an error case occurs for easier debugging.

If you know of a better way please do share it!

Meet the Author

Kevin Leary, WordPress Consultant

I'm a freelance web developer and WordPress consultant in Boston, MA with 16 years of experience building websites and applications. View a portfolio of my work or request an estimate for your next project.