AngularJS How to access elements inside directive before they get replaced

Problem

How do I get the input element from within the directive before the template overwrites the contents?

html

<div xxx>
  <input a="1" />
</div>

js

app.directive('xxx', function(){
  return {
        restrict: 'A',
        template: '<p></p>',
        replace: true, //if false, just leaves the parent div, still no input
        compile: function(element, attrs) {

            console.log(element);

            return function (scope, iElement, iAttrs) {
            }
        }
    };
});

i am on angular 1.0.x, I cannot pass in optional scope parameters with the '=?' syntax and i want to be able to override a portion of the default template of the directive in a very flexible way. instead of adding a scope variable or attribute everytime that I just plan on passing through the directive, I want to be able to supply the whole element to be used.

edit the input must retain the scope of the directive, and not the parent.

edit I am trying to include a partial template inside a directive that will overwrite a piece of the actual template. The piece I am including therefore needs to have access to the directive's scope and not the parent's.

Update It seems if I do not provide a template or a template URL and instead replace the contents manually using the $templateCache I can have access to the inner elements. I want to let angular handle the template and the replacement though and just want to be able to access the contents in the directive naturally before they get replaced.

Solution Plunkr

html

  <body ng-controller="MainCtrl">
        <div editable="obj.email">
            <input validate-email="error message" ng-model="obj.email" name="contactEmail" type="text" />
        </div>
  </body>

js

app.controller('MainCtrl', function($scope) {
  $scope.obj = {
    email: 'xxx'
  };
});

app.directive('editable', function($log){
    return {
        restrict: 'A',
        transclude: true,
        template: '<div ng-show="localScopeVar">{{value}}<div ng-transclude></div></div>',
        scope: {
          value: '=editable'
        },
        link: function(scope) {
          scope.localScopeVar = true;
        }
    };
});


app.directive('validateEmail', function($log){
    return {
        restrict: 'A',
        require: 'ngModel',
        scope: true,
        link: function(scope, el, attrs, ctrl) {
          console.log(attrs['validateEmail']);
        }
    };
});
Problem courtesy of: ogc-nick

Solution

I believe you're looking for the transclude function (link is to 1.0.8 docs). You can see what's going on with:

app.directive('xxx', function($log){
    return {
        restrict: 'A',
        transclude: true,
        compile: function(element, attrs, transclude) {

            $log.info("every instance element:", element);

            return function (scope, iElement, iAttrs) {

                $log.info("this instance element:", element);

                transclude(scope, function(clone){

                    $log.info("clone:", clone);

                });
            }
        }
    };
});
Solution courtesy of: fooby

Discussion

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