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rogramming languages all have built-in data structures, but these often

differ from one language to another. This article attempts to list the built-
in data structures available in JavaScript and what properties they have;
these can be used to build other data structures. When possible,
comparisons with other languages are drawn.

Dynamic typing
JavaScript is a loosely typed or a dynamic language. Variables in JavaScript
are not directly associated with any particular value type, and any variable
can be assigned (and re-assigned) values of all types:
var foo = 42; // foo is now a Number
var foo = 'bar'; // foo is now a String
var foo = true; // foo is now a Boolean

Data types
The latest ECMAScript standard defines seven data types:

Six data types that are primitives:


Boolean
Null
Undefined
Number
String
Symbol (new in ECMAScript 6)
and Object

Primitive values
All types except objects define immutable values (values, which are
incapable of being changed). For example and unlike to C, Strings are
immutable. We refer to values of these types as "primitive values".
Boolean type
Boolean represents a logical entity and can have two values: true,
and false.

Null type
The Null type has exactly one value: null. See null and Null for more
details.

Undefined type
A variable that has not been assigned a value has the value undefined.
See undefinedand Undefined for more details.

Number type
According to the ECMAScript standard, there is only one number type:
the double-precision 64-bit binary format IEEE 754 value (number
between -(253 -1) and 253 -1). There is no specific type for integers. In
addition to being able to represent floating-point numbers, the number
type has three symbolic values: +Infinity, -Infinity, and NaN(not-a-
number).
To check for the largest available value or smallest available
value within +/-Infinity, you can use the
constants Number.MAX_VALUE or Number.MIN_VALUE and starting with
ECMAScript 6, you are also able to check if a number is in the double-
precision floating-point number range using Number.isSafeInteger() as
well as Number.MAX_SAFE_INTEGER and Number.MIN_SAFE_INTEGER.
Beyond this range, integers in JavaScript are not safe anymore and will be
a double-precision floating point approximation of the value.
The number type has only one integer that has two representations: 0 is
represented as -0 and +0. ("0" is an alias for +0). In the praxis, this has
almost no impact. For example +0 === -0 is true. However, you are able
to notice this when you divide by zero:
> 42 / +0
Infinity
> 42 / -0
-Infinity
Although a number often represents only its value, JavaScript
provides some binary operators. These can be used to represent several
Boolean values within a single number using bit masking. However, this is
usually considered a bad practice, since JavaScript offers other means to
represent a set of Booleans (like an array of Booleans or an object with
Boolean values assigned to named properties). Bit masking also tends to
make code more difficult to read, understand, and maintain. It may be
necessary to use such techniques in very constrained environments, like
when trying to cope with the storage limitation of local storage or in
extreme cases when each bit over the network counts. This technique
should only be considered when it is the last measure that can be taken
to optimize size.

String type
JavaScript's String type is used to represent textual data. It is a set of
"elements" of 16-bit unsigned integer values. Each element in the String
occupies a position in the String. The first element is at index 0, the next
at index 1, and so on. The length of a String is the number of elements in
it.
Unlike in languages like C, JavaScript strings are immutable. This means
that once a string is created, it is not possible to modify it. However, it is
still possible to create another string based on an operation on the
original string. For example:

A substring of the original by picking individual letters or


using String.substr().
A concatenation of two strings using the concatenation operator (+)
or String.concat().
Beware of "stringly-typing" your code!

It can be tempting to use strings to represent complex data. Doing this


comes with short-term benefits:

It is easy to build complex strings with concatenation.


Strings are easy to debug (what you see printed is always what is in the
string).
Strings are the common denominator of a lot of APIs (input fields, local
storagevalues, XMLHttpRequest responses when using responseText,
etc.) and it can be tempting to only work with strings.
With conventions, it is possible to represent any data structure in a string.
This does not make it a good idea. For instance, with a separator, one
could emulate a list (while a JavaScript array would be more suitable).
Unfortunately, when the separator is used in one of the "list" elements,
then, the list is broken. An escape character can be chosen, etc. All of this
requires conventions and creates an unnecessary maintenance burden.

Use strings for textual data. When representing complex data, parse
strings and use the appropriate abstraction.

Symbol type
Symbols are new to JavaScript in ECMAScript Edition 6. A Symbol is
a unique and immutable primitive value and may be used as the key of an
Object property (see below). In some programming languages, Symbols
are called atoms. For more details see Symboland the Symbol object
wrapper in JavaScript.
Objects
In computer science, an object is a value in memory which is possibly
referenced by an identifier.
Properties
In JavaScript, objects can be seen as a collection of properties. With
the object literal syntax, a limited set of properties are initialized; then
properties can be added and removed. Property values can be values of
any type, including other objects, which enables building complex data
structures. Properties are identified using key values. A key value is either
a String or a Symbol value.
There are two types of object properties which have certain attributes:
The data property and the accessor property.

Data property

Associates a key with a value and has the following attributes:

Attributes of a data property


Default
Attribute Type Description
value
Any
[[Value]] JavaScript The value retrieved by a get access of the property. undefined
type
[[Writable]] Boolean If false, the property's [[Value]] can't be changed. true
If true, the property will be enumerated
[[Enumerable
Boolean in for...in loops. See also Enumerability and true
]]
ownership of properties
If false, the property can't be deleted and
[[Configurabl
Boolean attributes other than [[Value]] and [[Writable]] true
e]]
can't be changed.
Obsolete attributes (as of ECMAScript 3, renamed in ECMAScript 5)
Attribut
Type Description
e
Boolea
Read-only Reversed state of the ES5 [[Writable]] attribute.
n
Boolea
DontEnum Reversed state of the ES5 [[Enumerable]] attribute.
n
Boolea Reversed state of the ES5 [[Configurable]]
DontDelete
n attribute.
Accessor property

Associates a key with one or two accessor functions (get and set) to
retrieve or store a value and has the following attributes:

Attributes of an accessor property


Default
Attribute Type Description
value
Function The function is called with an empty argument list
[[Get]] object or and retrieves the property value whenever a get undefined
undefined access to the value is performed. See also get.
The function is called with an argument that
Function
contains the assigned value and is executed
[[Set]] object or undefined
whenever a specified property is attempted to be
undefined
changed. See also set.
[[Enumerable If true, the property will be enumerated
Boolean true
]] in for...in loops.
[[Configurabl If false, the property can't be deleted and can't be
Boolean true
e]] changed to a data property.
Note: Attribute is usually used by JavaScript engine, so you can't directly
access it(see more about Object.defineProperty()).That's why the attribute is
put in double square brackets instead of single.

"Normal" objects, and functions


A JavaScript object is a mapping between keys and values. Keys are
strings (or Symbols) and values can be anything. This makes objects a
natural fit for hashmaps.
Functions are regular objects with the additional capability of being
callable.

Dates
When representing dates, the best choice is to use the built-
in Date utility in JavaScript.

Indexed collections: Arrays and typed Arrays


Arrays are regular objects for which there is a particular relationship
between integer-key-ed properties and the 'length' property. Additionally,
arrays inherit from Array.prototype which provides to them a handful of
convenient methods to manipulate arrays. For
example, indexOf (searching a value in the array) or push (adding an
element to the array), etc. This makes Arrays a perfect candidate to
represent lists or sets.
Typed Arrays are new to JavaScript with ECMAScript Edition 6 and present
an array-like view of an underlying binary data buffer. The following table
helps you to find the equivalent C data types:

TypedArray objects
Size
Value in Descriptio Web IDL Equivalen
Type
Range byte n type t C type
s
8-bit two's
Int8Array -128 to 127 1 complement byte int8_t
signed integer
8-bit unsigned
Uint8Array 0 to 255 1 octet uint8_t
integer
8-bit unsigned
Uint8ClampedArray 0 to 255 1 integer octet uint8_t
(clamped)
16-bit two's
-32768 to
Int16Array 2 complement short int16_t
32767
signed integer
16-bit unsigned unsigned
Uint16Array 0 to 65535 2 uint16_t
integer short
-
32-bit two's
2147483648
Int32Array 4 complement long int32_t
to
signed integer
2147483647
0 to 32-bit unsigned unsigned
Uint32Array 4 uint32_t
4294967295 integer long
32-bit
IEEE floating
1.2x10-38 t point number unrestrict
Float32Array 4 float
o 3.4x1038 ( 7 significant ed float
digits e.g.
1.1234567)
Float64Array 5.0x10-324 8 64-bit IEEE unrestrict double
to floating point ed double
1.8x10308 number (16
significant
digits e.g.
1.123...15)

Keyed collections: Maps, Sets, WeakMaps, WeakSets


These data structures take object references as keys and are introduced
in ECMAScript Edition 6. Set and WeakSet represent a set of objects,
while Map and WeakMap associate a value to an object. The difference
between Maps and WeakMaps is that in the former, object keys can be
enumerated over. This allows garbage collection optimizations in the
latter case.
One could implement Maps and Sets in pure ECMAScript 5. However,
since objects cannot be compared (in the sense of "less than" for
instance), look-up performance would necessarily be linear. Native
implementations of them (including WeakMaps) can have look-up
performance that is approximately logarithmic to constant time.

Usually, to bind data to a DOM node, one could set properties directly on
the object or use data-* attributes. This has the downside that the data is
available to any script running in the same context. Maps and WeakMaps
make it easy to privately bind data to an object.

Structured data: JSON


JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is a lightweight data-interchange
format, derived from JavaScript but used by many programming
languages. JSON builds universal data structures. See JSON and JSON for
more details.

More objects in the standard library


JavaScript has a standard library of built-in objects. Please have a look at
the reference to find out about more objects.
Determining types using the typeof operator
The typeof operator can help you to find the type of your variable. Please
read the reference page for more details and edge cases.