Most efficient Javascript way to check if an object within an unknown object exists [duplicate]

2024/2/27 7:16:30

This is something that I come up against quite often in Javascript. Let's say I have an object like this:

var acquaintances = {types: {friends: {billy: 6,jascinta: 44,john: 91others: ["Matt", "Phil", "Jenny", "Anna"]},coworkers: {matt: 1}}

In my theoretical program, all I know for sure is that acquaintances is an object; I have no idea whether acquaintances.types has been set, or whether friends has been set within it.

How can I efficiently check whether acquaintances.types.friends.others exists?

What I would normally do is:

if(acquaintances.types){if(aquaintances.types.friends){if(acquaintances.types.friends.others){// do stuff with the "others" array here} }

Aside from being laborious, these nested if statements are a bit of a nightmare to manage (in practice my objects have far more levels than this!). But if I were to just try something like if(acquaintances.types.friends.others){) straight off the bat, and types hasn't been set yet, then the program will crash.

What ways does Javascript have of doing this in a neat, manageable way?


An alternative approach is:

((acquaintances.types || {}).friends || {}).others

which is shorter than other solutions, but may or may not thrill you.

You can also build a little helper to make the same idea a tiny bit more palatable:

function maybe(o) { return o || {}; }

Now you can do


If you don't mind writing property names as strings, you could make a little helper:

function maybe(obj) {return Object.defineProperty(obj || {}, 'get', { value: function(prop) { return maybe(obj[prop]); });

Now you can write


In ES6, you can do this, albeit clumsily, using destructuring assignment with defaults:

var { types: { friends: { others } = {} } = {} } = acquaintances;

If you want to use this in an expression context, instead of assigning to a variable, in theory you could use argument destructuring:

(({ types: { friends: { others } = {} } = {} }) => others)(acquaintances)

After all is said and done, the standard approach remains

acquaintances.types && acquaintances.types.friends && acquaintances.types.friends.others

This is why there is an active (?) discussion in the ES6 design groups about a CoffeeScript-like existential operator, but it does not seem to be converging very rapidly.

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