O'Reilly

Create and Retrieve Nested Objects with jQuery

By on  

The ability to create and retrieve nested objects by objectified string path is incredibly useful.  Not only do you not need to do the manual string of object/property checks to avoid "{x} is not defined" errors, but if you create your method properly, you can also set an empty object in its given place (or namespace, some would call it.    Here's how you can add this functionality to the jQuery object.

The jQuery JavaScript

Since jQuery's philosophy is to use the same method for getting and setting, we'll be doing this same for creating and retrieving objects;  in this case, we'll use the obj method:

(function() {

	// Utility method to get and set objects that may or may not exist
	var objectifier = function(splits, create, context) {
		var result = context || window;
		for(var i = 0, s; result && (s = splits[i]); i++) {
			result = (s in result ? result[s] : (create ? result[s] = {} : undefined));
		}
		return result;
	};

	// Gets or sets an object
	jQuery.obj = function(name, value, create, context) {
		// Setter
		if(value != undefined) {
			var splits = name.split("."), s = splits.pop(), result = objectifier(splits, true, context);
			return result && s ? (result[s] = value) : undefined;
		}
		// Getter
		else {
			return objectifier(name.split("."), create, context);
		}
	};

})();

As with the MooTools alternative, the objectifier function is enough to handle both getting and setting, as well as doing both within a given context (existing object).  Here are a few examples of how you can use the new jQuery.obj method:

// Check for existence
var moduleNameExists = jQuery.obj("mynamespace.widget.moduleName"); // undefined

// Create the obj
jQuery.obj("mynamespace.widget.moduleName", { prop: 1 }); // mynamespace.widget.moduleName.prop returns 1

// Create an object on existing object
jQuery.obj("subnamespace.subModuleName", { someProp: 8 }, true, mynamespace.widget);
	// mynamespace.widget.subnamespace.subModuleName = { someProp: 8 }

As I work more with jQuery, both with its provided methods and other third party tools, accessing arbitrary objects by string and sometimes context allows me to avoid the dance of manual object and property existence checks.  Of course the essence of this script is really the objectifier method, which can be added to any framework or toolkit, but with a framework as popular as jQuery, why not just put it out there for everyone?

Track.js Error Reporting

Recent Features

  • 5 Ways that CSS and JavaScript Interact That You May Not Know About

    CSS and JavaScript:  the lines seemingly get blurred by each browser release.  They have always done a very different job but in the end they are both front-end technologies so they need do need to work closely.  We have our .js files and our .css, but...

  • Create a CSS Cube

    CSS cubes really showcase what CSS has become over the years, evolving from simple color and dimension directives to a language capable of creating deep, creative visuals.  Add animation and you've got something really neat.  Unfortunately each CSS cube tutorial I've read is a bit...

Incredible Demos

Discussion

  1. Any chance that there is a demo or functional example of this available? I’m trying to use this to create nested dropdown boxes based on jQuery UI’s nested menu, and I’m having some difficulty understanding how to apply the objectifier function.

Wrap your code in <pre class="{language}"></pre> tags, link to a GitHub gist, JSFiddle fiddle, or CodePen pen to embed!

Recently on David Walsh Blog

  • Chris Coyierâs Favorite CodePen Demos II

    Hey everyone! Before we get started, I just want to say it’s damn hard to pick this few favorites on CodePen. Not because, as a co-founder of CodePen, I feel like a dad picking which kid he likes best (RUDE). But because there is just so...

  • GSAP + SVG For Power Users: Motion Along A Path

    Now that the GreenSock API is picking up steam, there are many tutorials and Getting Started guides out there to provide good introductions to the library, not to mention GreenSock’s own Forum and Documentation. This article isn’t intended for beginners, but rather a...

  • Copy a Directory from Command Line

    Copying a directory for the sake of backup is something I do often, especially when I'm trying to figure out why something isn't working when I use an external library.  I'll copy the directory structure as a backup, mess around with the original source until I find a solution,...

  • Hotjar &#8211; All-in-one Analytics and Feedback

    Website analytics are a massive business -- the more data you can collect with regard to your users' behaviors on your site, the more you can increase and maximise conversion...and increased conversion is always good.  Sometimes increase conversion means more money, improved user experience, viewer retention,...

  • Crafting a 3D React Carousel

    There is something in me that is amazed but beautiful 3D interfaces. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re functional like Gyroscope features menu, technology demonstrators like the amazing periodic table demo from famous or they’re artistic representation pushing the limits of...