How do I detect XML parsing errors when using Javascript's DOMParser in a cross-browser way?

This is the best solution I've come up with.

I attempt to parse a string that is intentionally invalid XML and observe the namespace of the resulting <parsererror> element. Then, when parsing actual XML, I can use getElementsByTagNameNS to detect the same kind of <parsererror> element and throw a Javascript Error.

// My function that parses a string into an XML DOM, throwing an Error if XML parsing fails
function parseXml(xmlString) {
    var parser = new DOMParser();
    // attempt to parse the passed-in xml
    var dom = parser.parseFromString(xmlString, 'application/xml');
    if(isParseError(dom)) {
        throw new Error('Error parsing XML');
    return dom;

function isParseError(parsedDocument) {
    // parser and parsererrorNS could be cached on startup for efficiency
    var parser = new DOMParser(),
        errorneousParse = parser.parseFromString('<', 'application/xml'),
        parsererrorNS = errorneousParse.getElementsByTagName("parsererror")[0].namespaceURI;

    if (parsererrorNS === '') {
        // In PhantomJS the parseerror element doesn't seem to have a special namespace, so we are just guessing here :(
        return parsedDocument.getElementsByTagName("parsererror").length > 0;

    return parsedDocument.getElementsByTagNameNS(parsererrorNS, 'parsererror').length > 0;

Note that this solution doesn't include the special-casing needed for Internet Explorer. However, things are much more straightforward in IE. XML is parsed with a loadXML method which returns true or false if parsing succeeded or failed, respectively. See for an example.

When I came here the first time, I upvoted original answer (by cspotcode), however, it does not work in Firefox. The resulting namespace is always "null" because of the structure of the produced document. I made a little research (check the code here). The idea is to use not




And then select "parsererror" element by namespace as in original answer. However, if you have a valid XML document with <parsererror> tag in same namespace as used by browser, you end up with false alarm. So, here's a heuristic to check if your XML parsed successfully:

function tryParseXML(xmlString) {
    var parser = new DOMParser();
    var parsererrorNS = parser.parseFromString('INVALID', 'application/xml').getElementsByTagName("parsererror")[0].namespaceURI;
    var dom = parser.parseFromString(xmlString, 'application/xml');
    if(dom.getElementsByTagNameNS(parsererrorNS, 'parsererror').length > 0) {
        throw new Error('Error parsing XML');
    return dom;

Why not implement exceptions in DOMParser?

Interesting thing worth mentioning in current context: if you try to get XML file with XMLHttpRequest, parsed DOM will be stored in responseXML property, or null, if XML file content was invalid. Not an exception, not parsererror or another specific indicator. Just null.