Access object child properties using a dot notation string [duplicate]


I'm temporarily stuck with what appears to be a very simple JavaScript problem, but maybe I'm just missing the right search keywords!

Say we have an object

var r = { a:1, b: {b1:11, b2: 99}};

There are several ways to access the 99:

r.b.b2
r['b']['b2']

What I want is to be able to define a string

var s = "b.b2";

and then access the 99 using

r.s or r[s] //(which of course won't work)

One way is to write a function for it that splits the string on dot and maybe recursively/iteratively gets the property. But is there any simpler/more efficient way? Anything useful in any of the jQuery APIs here?

Here's a naive function I wrote a while ago, but it works for basic object properties:

function getDescendantProp(obj, desc) {
    var arr = desc.split(".");
    while(arr.length && (obj = obj[arr.shift()]));
    return obj;
}

console.log(getDescendantProp(r, "b.b2"));
//-> 99

Although there are answers that extend this to "allow" array index access, that's not really necessary as you can just specify numerical indexes using dot notation with this method:

getDescendantProp({ a: [ 1, 2, 3 ] }, 'a.2');
//-> 3

split and reduce while passing the object as the initalValue

var r = { a:1, b: {b1:11, b2: 99}};
var s = "b.b2";

var value = s.split('.').reduce(function(a, b) {
  return a[b];
}, r);

console.log(value);

Update (thanks to comment posted by TeChn4K)

With ES6 syntax, it is even shorter

var r = { a:1, b: {b1:11, b2: 99}};
var s = "b.b2";

var value = s.split('.').reduce((a, b) => a[b], r);

console.log(value);


You can use lodash get() and set() methods.

Getting

var object = { 'a': [{ 'b': { 'c': 3 } }] };

_.get(object, 'a[0].b.c');
// ? 3

Setting

var object = { 'a': [{ 'b': { 'c': 3 } }] };

_.set(object, 'a[0].b.c', 4);
console.log(object.a[0].b.c);
// ? 4

If it's possible in your scenario that you could put the entire array variable you're after into a string you could use the eval() function.

var r = { a:1, b: {b1:11, b2: 99}};
var s = "r.b.b2";
alert(eval(s)); // 99

I can feel people reeling in horror


Extending @JohnB's answer, I added a setter value as well. Check out the plunkr at

http://plnkr.co/edit/lo0thC?p=preview

enter image description here

function getSetDescendantProp(obj, desc, value) {
  var arr = desc ? desc.split(".") : [];

  while (arr.length && obj) {
    var comp = arr.shift();
    var match = new RegExp("(.+)\\[([0-9]*)\\]").exec(comp);

    // handle arrays
    if ((match !== null) && (match.length == 3)) {
      var arrayData = {
        arrName: match[1],
        arrIndex: match[2]
      };
      if (obj[arrayData.arrName] !== undefined) {
        if (typeof value !== 'undefined' && arr.length === 0) {
          obj[arrayData.arrName][arrayData.arrIndex] = value;
        }
        obj = obj[arrayData.arrName][arrayData.arrIndex];
      } else {
        obj = undefined;
      }

      continue;
    }

    // handle regular things
    if (typeof value !== 'undefined') {
      if (obj[comp] === undefined) {
        obj[comp] = {};
      }

      if (arr.length === 0) {
        obj[comp] = value;
      }
    }

    obj = obj[comp];
  }

  return obj;
}

This is the simplest i could do:

var accessProperties = function(object, string){
   var explodedString = string.split('.');
   for (i = 0, l = explodedString.length; i<l; i++){
      object = object[explodedString[i]];
   }
   return object;
}
var r = { a:1, b: {b1:11, b2: 99}};

var s = "b.b2";
var o = accessProperties(r, s);
alert(o);//99

you could also do

var s = "['b'].b2";
var num = eval('r'+s);

I don't know a supported jQuery API function but I have this function:

    var ret = data; // Your object
    var childexpr = "b.b2"; // Your expression

    if (childexpr != '') {
        var childs = childexpr.split('.');
        var i;
        for (i = 0; i < childs.length && ret != undefined; i++) {
            ret = ret[childs[i]];
        }
    }

    return ret;

I've extended Andy E's answer, so that it can also handle arrays:

function getDescendantProp(obj, desc) {
    var arr = desc.split(".");

    //while (arr.length && (obj = obj[arr.shift()]));

    while (arr.length && obj) {
        var comp = arr.shift();
        var match = new RegExp("(.+)\\[([0-9]*)\\]").exec(comp);
        if ((match !== null) && (match.length == 3)) {
            var arrayData = { arrName: match[1], arrIndex: match[2] };
            if (obj[arrayData.arrName] != undefined) {
                obj = obj[arrayData.arrName][arrayData.arrIndex];
            } else {
                obj = undefined;
            }
        } else {
            obj = obj[comp]
        }
    }

    return obj;
}

There are probably more efficient ways to do the Regex, but it's compact.

You can now do stuff like:

var model = {
    "m1": {
        "Id": "22345",
        "People": [
            { "Name": "John", "Numbers": ["07263", "17236", "1223"] },
            { "Name": "Jenny", "Numbers": ["2", "3", "6"] },
            { "Name": "Bob", "Numbers": ["12", "3333", "4444"] }
         ]
    }
}

// Should give you "6"
var x = getDescendantProp(model, "m1.People[1].Numbers[2]");

Here is an extension of Andy E's code, that recurses into arrays and returns all values:

function GetDescendantProps(target, pathString) {
    var arr = pathString.split(".");
    while(arr.length && (target = target[arr.shift()])){
        if (arr.length && target.length && target.forEach) { // handle arrays
            var remainder = arr.join('.');
            var results = [];
            for (var i = 0; i < target.length; i++){
                var x = this.GetDescendantProps(target[i], remainder);
                if (x) results = results.concat(x);
            }
            return results;
        }
    }
    return (target) ? [target] : undefined; //single result, wrap in array for consistency
}

So given this target:

var t = 
{a:
    {b: [
            {'c':'x'},
            {'not me':'y'},
            {'c':'z'}
        ]
    }
};

We get:

GetDescendantProps(t, "a.b.c") === ["x", "z"]; // true

Performance tests for Andy E's, Jason More's, and my own solution are available at http://jsperf.com/propertyaccessor. Please feel free to run tests using your own browser to add to the data collected.

The prognosis is clear, Andy E's solution is the fastest by far!

For anyone interested, here is the code for my solution to the original question.

function propertyAccessor(object, keys, array) {
    /*
    Retrieve an object property with a dot notation string.
    @param  {Object}  object   Object to access.
    @param  {String}  keys     Property to access using 0 or more dots for notation.
    @param  {Object}  [array]  Optional array of non-dot notation strings to use instead of keys.
    @return  {*}
    */
    array = array || keys.split('.')

    if (array.length > 1) {
        // recurse by calling self
        return propertyAccessor(object[array.shift()], null, array)
    } else {
        return object[array]
    }
}

Short answer: No, there is no native .access function like you want it. As you correctly mentioned, you would have to define your own function which splits the string and loops/checks over its parts.

Of course, what you always can do (even if its considered bad practice) is to use eval().

Like

var s = 'b.b2';

eval('r.' + s); // 99

Here is a a little better way then @andy's answer, where the obj (context) is optional, it falls back to window if not provided..

function getDescendantProp(desc, obj) {
    obj = obj || window;
    var arr = desc.split(".");
    while (arr.length && (obj = obj[arr.shift()]));
    return obj;
};