Check if array is empty or does not exist. JS [duplicate]

Check if array is empty or does not exist. JS [duplicate]

This question already has an answer here:

How to check if an array exist, if not create it, in JavaScript?

7 answers

What’s the best way to check if an array is empty or doesn’t exist?
Something like this?
if(array.length < 1 || array == undefined){ //empty }

Solutions/Answers:

Solution 1:

You want to do the check for undefined first. If you do it the other way round, it will generate an error if the array is undefined.

if (array === undefined || array.length == 0) {
    // array empty or does not exist
}

Update

This answer is getting a fair amount of attention, so I’d like to point out that my original answer, more than anything else, addressed the wrong order of the conditions being evaluated in the question. In this sense, it fails to address several scenarios, such as null values, other types of objects with a length property, etc. It is also not very idiomatic JavaScript.

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The foolproof approach
Taking some inspiration from the comments, below is what I currently consider to be the foolproof way to check whether an array is empty or does not exist. It also takes into account that the variable might not refer to an array, but to some other type of object with a length property.

if (!Array.isArray(array) || !array.length) {
  // array does not exist, is not an array, or is empty
  // ⇒ do not attempt to process array
}

To break it down:

  1. Array.isArray(), unsurprisingly, checks whether its argument is an array. This weeds out values like null, undefined and anything else that is not an array.
    Note that this will also eliminate array-like objects, such as the arguments object and DOM NodeList objects. Depending on your situation, this might not be the behavior you’re after.

  2. The array.length condition checks whether the variable’s length property evaluates to a truthy value. Because the previous condition already established that we are indeed dealing with an array, more strict comparisons like array.length != 0 or array.length !== 0 are not required here.

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The pragmatic approach
In a lot of cases, the above might seem like overkill. Maybe you’re using a higher order language like TypeScript that does most of the type-checking for you at compile-time, or you really don’t care whether the object is actually an array, or just array-like.

In those cases, I tend to go for the following, more idiomatic JavaScript:

if (!array || !array.length) {
    // array or array.length are falsy
    // ⇒ do not attempt to process array
}

Or, more frequently, its inverse:

if (array && array.length) {
    // array and array.length are truthy
    // ⇒ probably OK to process array
}