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arrays for-loop javascript loops

Loop through an array in JavaScript

3764

In Java, you can use a for loop to traverse objects in an array as follows:

String[] myStringArray = {"Hello", "World"};
for (String s : myStringArray) {
    // Do something
}

Can I do the same in JavaScript?

10

  • 6

    Ok, so I’m a bit confused, it’s ok to use the enhanced for loop when you are accessing the objects? And use a sequential one for filling one? Is this correct?

    Jun 10, 2010 at 0:15

  • 51

    no, it’s really simple, array objects have numeric indexes, so you want to iterate over those indexes in the numeric order, a sequential loop ensures that, the enhanced for-in loop enumerates object properties, without an specific order, and it also enumerates inherited properties… for iterating over arrays sequential loops are always recommended…

    Jun 10, 2010 at 0:38

  • 6

    related – stackoverflow.com/questions/5349425/…

    Nov 1, 2011 at 17:53

  • 8

    jsben.ch/#/Q9oD5 <= Here a benchmark of a bunch of solutions for looping through arrays

    Nov 3, 2016 at 19:45

  • 10

    @CMS No, it’s not really simple. It’s really simple in every other language. It’s ridiculously complex in JS, where you have in and of that can both be used and do different things. Then you also have forEach and the ugly and annoying index based looping. Every other modern language makes looping over a collection easy and straightforward with no surprises or confusion. JS could, too, but it doesn’t.

    – jpmc26

    Oct 5, 2018 at 15:59


1158

+50

Yes, assuming your implementation includes the forof feature introduced in ECMAScript 2015 (the “Harmony” release)… which is a pretty safe assumption these days.

It works like this:

// REQUIRES ECMASCRIPT 2015+
var s, myStringArray = ["Hello", "World"];
for (s of myStringArray) {
  // ... do something with s ...
}

Or better yet, since ECMAScript 2015 also provides block-scoped variables:

// REQUIRES ECMASCRIPT 2015+
const myStringArray = ["Hello", "World"];
for (const s of myStringArray) {
  // ... do something with s ...
}
// s is no longer defined here

(The variable s is different on each iteration, but can still be declared const inside the loop body as long as it isn’t modified there.)

A note on sparse arrays: an array in JavaScript may not actually store as many items as reported by its length; that reported number is simply one greater than the highest index at which a value is stored. If the array holds fewer elements than indicated by its length, its said to be sparse. For example, it’s perfectly legitimate to have an array with items only at indexes 3, 12, and 247; the length of such an array is reported as 248, though it is only actually storing 3 values. If you try to access an item at any other index, the array will appear to have the undefined value there. So when you want to “loop through” an array, you have a question to answer: do you want to loop over the full range indicated by its length and process undefineds for any missing elements, or do you only want to process the elements actually present? There are plenty of applications for both approaches; it just depends on what you’re using the array for.

If you iterate over an array with for..of, the body of the loop is executed length times, and the loop control variable is set to undefined for any items not actually present in the array. Depending on the details of your “do something with” code, that behavior may be what you want, but if not, you should use a different approach.

Of course, some developers have no choice but to use a different approach anyway, because for whatever reason they’re targeting a version of JavaScript that doesn’t yet support forof.

As long as your JavaScript implementation is compliant with the previous edition of the ECMAScript specification (which rules out, for example, versions of Internet Explorer before 9), then you can use the Array#forEach iterator method instead of a loop. In that case, you pass a function to be called on each item in the array:

var myStringArray = [ "Hello", "World" ];
myStringArray.forEach( function(s) { 
     // ... do something with s ...
} );

Unlike forof, .forEach only calls the function for elements that are actually present in the array. If passed our hypothetical array with three elements and a length of 248, it will only call the function three times, not 248 times. It also distinguishes between missing elements and elements that are actually set to undefined; for the latter, it will still call the function, passing undefined as the argument. If this is how you want to handle sparse arrays, .forEach may be the way to go even if your interpreter supports forof.

The final option, which works in all versions of JavaScript, is an explicit counting loop. You simply count from 0 up to one less than the length and use the counter as an index. The basic loop looks like this:

var i, s, myStringArray = [ "Hello", "World" ], len = myStringArray.length;
for (i=0; i<len; ++i) {
  s = myStringArray[i];
  // ... do something with s ...
}

One advantage of this approach is that you can choose how to handle sparse arrays; the above code will run the body of the loop the full length times, with s set to undefined for any missing elements, just like for..of. If you instead want to handle only the actually-present elements of a sparse array, like .forEach, you can add a simple in test on the index:

var i, s, myStringArray = [ "Hello", "World" ], len = myStringArray.length;
for (i=0; i<len; ++i) {
  if (i in myStringArray) {
    s = myStringArray[i];
    // ... do something with s ...
  }
}

Assigning the length value to the local variable (as opposed to including the full myStringArray.length expression in the loop condition) can make a significant difference in performance since it skips a property lookup each time through; using Rhino on my machine, the speedup is 43%.

You may see the length caching done in the loop initialization clause, like this:

var i, len, myStringArray = [ "Hello", "World" ];
for (len = myStringArray.length, i=0; i<len; ++i) {

The explicit counting loop also means you have access to the index of each value, should you want it. The index is also passed as an extra parameter to the function you pass to forEach, so you can access it that way as well:

myStringArray.forEach( function(s, i) {
   // ... do something with s and i ...
});

forof doesn’t give you the index associated with each object, but as long as the object you’re iterating over is actually an Array (for..of works for other iterable types which may not have this method), you can use the Array#entries method to change it to an array of [index, item] pairs, and then iterate over that:

for (const [i, s] of myStringArray.entries()) {
  // ... do something with s and i ...
}

The forin syntax mentioned by others is for looping over an object’s properties; since an Array in JavaScript is just an object with numeric property names (and an automatically-updated length property), you can theoretically loop over an Array with it. But the problem is that it doesn’t restrict itself to the numeric property values (remember that even methods are actually just properties whose value is a closure), nor is it guaranteed to iterate over those in numeric order. Therefore, the forin syntax should not be used for looping through Arrays.

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    Note that some interpreters (e.g. V8) will automatically cache the length of the array if the code is called enough times and it detects that the length is not modified by the loop. While caching the length is still nice, it may not provide a speed boost when your code is being invoked enough times to actually make a difference.

    – Phrogz

    Jun 4, 2012 at 16:29

451

You can use map, which is a functional programming technique that’s also available in other languages like Python and Haskell.

[1,2,3,4].map( function(item) {
     alert(item);
})

The general syntax is:

array.map(func)

In general func would take one parameter, which is an item of the array. But in the case of JavaScript, it can take a second parameter which is the item’s index, and a third parameter which is the array itself.

The return value of array.map is another array, so you can use it like this:

var x = [1,2,3,4].map( function(item) {return item * 10;});

And now x is [10,20,30,40].

You don’t have to write the function inline. It could be a separate function.

var item_processor = function(item) {
      // Do something complicated to an item
}

new_list = my_list.map(item_processor);

which would be sort-of equivalent to:

 for (item in my_list) {item_processor(item);}

Except you don’t get the new_list.

2

  • 103

    That particular example is probably better implemented using Array.forEach. map is for generating a new array.

    – harto

    Jun 10, 2010 at 0:20

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    @hasen, the Array.prototype.map method is part of the ECMAScript 5th Edition Standard, is not yet available on all implementations (e.g. IE lacks of it), also for iterating over an array I think the Array.prototype.forEach method is more semantically correct… also please don’t suggest the for-in statement, see my answer for more details 🙂

    Jun 10, 2010 at 0:30