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Basic JavaScript arrays reminder

I’m pretty bad when it comes to remembering syntax details for languages I don’t use every day, especially since I work with a few languages that use C-syntax and not just JavaScript. Also, it’s not the kind of details I want to spend a lot of time studying since this information can easily be found.

In most cases, it’s easy to look up how something is done in the project you’re working on, since you’ll want to follow existing patterns anyway. But since I’m working on refreshing my JavaScript knowledge and trying new patterns, I’m often faced with a blank .js file. Arrays are always one of the first things that comes up when trying to solve a problem, so I thought a quick reminder could be useful.

A standard JavaScript array is most often initialized with the bracket notation. There is also an Array object, but using the Array() constructor is not totally identical to using the bracket notation since it’s an object in that case. To keep things simple I won’t be using the object since standard arrays are a lot more common.

var fruitsArray = [];

Inserting new items at the end of an existing array is done using the push() method. The array will resize to accommodate the new items. An array can also contain any items: it is not limited to one type.

fruitsArray.push("Tomato");
fruitsArray.push("Squash");
fruitsArray.push("Potato");
fruitsArray.push("Carrot");

Removing the last item at the end of an array is done using the pop() method. In the example, the “Carrot” item will be removed.

fruitsArray.pop();

Sorting an array is done using the sort() method. By default, the items are sorted as strings, so it works for the example. For more complex cases, a sort function can be passed as a parameter to the method.

fruitsArray.sort();

Looping in an array from the start to the end using the for loop, getting the items and printing them to the console. The example also shows the length property to get the current size of the array.

for (i = 0; i < fruitsArray.length; i++) { 
   console.log(i, fruitsArray[i]);
}

Checking if a variable is an array, printing the result to the console. This condition is useful when you can’t be sure about the type of a variable, for example because you received it as a parameter.

if (fruitsArray instanceof Array)
   console.log("fruitsArray is an array");
else
   console.log("fruitsArray is not an array");

Finding an item in an array using the indexOf() method. This method returns the index of the item in the array, or -1 if the item doesn’t exist.

var itemIndex = fruitsArray.indexOf("Carrot"); // Contains -1
itemIndex = fruitsArray.indexOf("Potato");     // Now contains 0

Finally, here are all the examples in one code snippet so you execute them and try for yourself :

var fruitsArray = [];

// Inserting items
fruitsArray.push("Tomato");
fruitsArray.push("Squash");
fruitsArray.push("Potato");
fruitsArray.push("Carrot")
console.log(fruitsArray); // ["Tomato", "Squash", "Potato", "Carrot"]

// Removing an item at the end of the array
fruitsArray.pop();
console.log(fruitsArray); // ["Tomato", "Squash", "Potato"]

// Sort the array as string
fruitsArray.sort();
console.log(fruitsArray); // ["Potato", "Squash", "Tomato"]

// Length of the array
console.log(fruitsArray.length); // 3

// Looping in an array, getting the items
for (i = 0; i < fruitsArray.length; i++) { 
   console.log(i, fruitsArray[i]);
}

// Check if a variable is an array
if (fruitsArray instanceof Array)
   console.log("fruitsArray is an array");
else
   console.log("fruitsArray is not an array");

// Search for an item in an array (returns the index)
console.log(fruitsArray.indexOf("Carrot")); // -1
console.log(fruitsArray.indexOf("Potato")); // 0

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