Autocomplete Input with JavaScript/Typescript
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Autocomplete Input with JavaScript/Typescript

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In today’s Tutorial, we will replicate the text autocompletion feature built in many Websites and Apps like YouTube, Google, and every place where a text field gives you suggestions based on your current input.

To do this, we will use the Datamuse API, and for a better Developer Experience, we use Typescript. Behind the scenes, we use Vite, but I won’t go over that as it does not matter.

We make it so a panel appears whenever the user focuses on the text input, which contains suggestions based on the word that the cursor is currently. Users can then choose a suggestion with the keyboard.

Lastly, we make this panel appear for every text input with the data-suggestions attribute.

You’ll find the Demo for the finished code here.

Setup of the Autocomplete Input

We start by query selecting all elements with the data-suggestions attribute, and we save the resulting array in a variable that we will later loop over so we can add the logic to each input field.

const inputs: HTMLInputElement[] = Array.from(document.querySelectorAll('[data-suggestions]'))

for (const input_element of inputs) {
    // All other code is located here

We indicate that inputs holds a list of HTMLInputElement‘s with HTMLInputElement[].

Variable and Creating Elements

Next up, we define variables for later.

  • current_suggestion_index will be used to choose a suggestion from the current list.
  • current_suggestions will, as its name suggests (Pun somewhat intended), hold the current list of suggestions. It is empty now, but we can define its shape beforehand.
  • current_word_info will be the word currently selected by the cursor.
let current_suggestion_index = 0
let current_suggestions: { word: string, score: number }[] = []
let current_word_info = get_currently_selected_word()

After that, we create the element that holds the current list of suggestions. We can add this element after the input element with the after method.

const suggestion_container = document.createElement('div'); = '300px' = 'auto'

Event Listeners

Continuing, we add Event Listeners to our input element.

The following three elements handle hiding and showing the suggestion container, and the last one re-fetches suggestions when the user clicks on the input.

input_element.addEventListener('focus', () => { = 'block'
input_element.addEventListener('blur', () => { = 'none' });
input_element.addEventListener('pointerdown', () => {

After that, we add an event listener for the keydown event to prevent the default events for the left and right arrows if control is pressed. We do this because this Shortcut will be used to select a suggestion.

input_element.addEventListener('keydown', (event: KeyboardEvent) => {
    if (event.key == 'ArrowUp' && event.ctrlKey) event.preventDefault()
    if (event.key == 'ArrowDown' && event.ctrlKey) event.preventDefault()

Lastly, we add a keyup event listener so we can react to new content in the input field. Here we handle arrow navigation among other things.

input_element.addEventListener('keyup', (event: KeyboardEvent) => {
    if ( event.ctrlKey ) {
        if ( event.key == 'ArrowUp' ) {
            if ( current_suggestion_index > 0 ) current_suggestion_index--
        } else if ( event.key == 'ArrowDown' ) {
            if ( current_suggestion_index < current_suggestions.length - 1 ) current_suggestion_index++
        } else if ( event.key == 'Enter' ) {

    // Clear Suggestion Container in case the selection is not collapsed
    if (input_element.selectionStart != input_element.selectionEnd) {
        suggestion_container.innerHTML = ''

    // Refetch the Suggestions for the current word


This is not all. As you saw before, some functions have yet to be explained, but they have been used, so let’s go over them here.

Accepting the current suggestion

This function is called when the user hits Ctrl + Enter. It will replace the current word with the current suggestion. The setRangeText method of a text input element comes in handy here.

function accept_current_suggestion() {
    const suggestion_word: string = current_suggestions[current_suggestion_index].word

    input_element.setRangeText(suggestion_word, current_word_info.start, current_word_info.end, 'end')


Getting Suggestions from the API

With this function, we get suggestions from the Datamuse API.

function get_suggestions() {
    current_word_info = get_currently_selected_word()
    const url = `${current_word_info.word}`

        .then(response => response.json())
        .then(suggestions => {
            current_suggestions = suggestions
            current_suggestion_index = 0;


Rendering the Suggestions

This function will, as its name suggests, rerender the suggestions. As you see, we treat the currently chosen element differently by changing its font weight to be more prominent. Lastly, we also ensure that the current element is visible in a scrolled container by using the scrollIntoView method.

function render_suggestions() {
    suggestion_container.innerHTML = ``

    let i = 0;
    for (const suggestion of current_suggestions) {
        const suggestion_element = document.createElement('button') = 'block'

        // Treat the current suggestion differently
        if (i == current_suggestion_index) {
   = '900'
        } else {
   = '0.7'

        suggestion_element.innerHTML = suggestion.word


    // Scroll to the Element
    suggestion_container.children[current_suggestion_index].scrollIntoView({ behavior: "smooth", block: "center", inline: "nearest" })

Getting the Current Word

Lastly, we need a function that finds the word the cursor is currently in and returns it along its start and end indices.

function get_currently_selected_word(): {word: string, start: number, end: number } {
    let current_word = ''

    // this will also be the end
    let i = 0
    let start = 0

    // This will be set to true if the position is met
    let surely_the_word = false

    while (i < input_element.value.length) {

        let letter = input_element.value[i];

        if (i == input_element.selectionStart) surely_the_word = true

        // Break out entirely if the Current word is finished
        // and it is the searched word
        if (letter == ' ' && surely_the_word) break

        // Restart the counters in case the word is finished
        if (letter == ' ') {
            current_word = ''
            start = i + 1
        else current_word += letter


    return {word: current_word, start: start, end: i }

HTML Usage

Using our code is simple; we have to add the data-suggestions attribute to an input we want to equip with text suggestions.

<input type="text" data-suggestions/>

Showcase for the Autocompletting Input


Well, that’s it, we now have text inputs with autocompletion! I hope you had a good time reading this and that you learned something new!

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