Remove empty elements from an array in Javascript

Remove empty elements from an array in Javascript

How do I remove empty elements from an array in JavaScript?
Is there a straightforward way, or do I need to loop through it and remove them manually?

Solutions/Answers:

Solution 1:

EDIT: This question was answered almost 9 year ago, when there were not much useful built-in methods in the Array.prototype.

Now, certainly I would just recommend you to use the filter method.

Take in mind that this method will return you a new array with the elements that pass the criteria of the callback function you provide to it, for example, if you want to remove null or undefined values:

var array = [0, 1, null, 2, "", 3, undefined, 3,,,,,, 4,, 4,, 5,, 6,,,,];

var filtered = array.filter(function (el) {
  return el != null;
});

console.log(filtered);

It will depend on what you consider to be “empty”, for example if you were dealing with strings, the above function wouldn’t remove elements that are an empty string.

One common pattern that I see often used is to remove elements that are falsy, which include an empty string "", 0, NaN, null, undefined, and false.

You can simply pass to the filter method, the Boolean constructor function, or simply return the same element in the filter criteria function, for example:

var filtered = array.filter(Boolean);

Or

var filtered = array.filter(function(el) { return el; });

In both ways this works because the filter method in the first case, calls the Boolean constructor as a function, converting the value, and in the second case, the filter method internally converts the return value of the callback implicitly to Boolean.

If you are working with sparse arrays, and you are trying to get rid of the “holes”, you can simply use the filter method passing a callback that returns true, for example:

var sparseArray = [0, , , 1, , , , , 2, , , , 3],
    cleanArray = sparseArray.filter(function () { return true });

console.log(cleanArray); // [ 0, 1, 2, 3 ]

Old answer: Don’t do this!

I use this method, extending the native Array prototype:

Array.prototype.clean = function(deleteValue) {
  for (var i = 0; i < this.length; i++) {
    if (this[i] == deleteValue) {         
      this.splice(i, 1);
      i--;
    }
  }
  return this;
};

test = new Array("", "One", "Two", "", "Three", "", "Four").clean("");
test2 = [1, 2,, 3,, 3,,,,,, 4,, 4,, 5,, 6,,,,];
test2.clean(undefined);

Or you can simply push the existing elements into other array:

// Will remove all falsy values: undefined, null, 0, false, NaN and "" (empty string)
function cleanArray(actual) {
  var newArray = new Array();
  for (var i = 0; i < actual.length; i++) {
    if (actual[i]) {
      newArray.push(actual[i]);
    }
  }
  return newArray;
}

cleanArray([1, 2,, 3,, 3,,,,,, 4,, 4,, 5,, 6,,,,]);

Solution 2:

Simple ways:

var arr = [1,2,,3,,-3,null,,0,,undefined,4,,4,,5,,6,,,,];


arr.filter(n => n)
// [1, 2, 3, -3, 4, 4, 5, 6]

arr.filter(Number) 
// [1, 2, 3, -3, 4, 4, 5, 6]

arr.filter(Boolean) 
// [1, 2, 3, -3, 4, 4, 5, 6]

or – (only for single array items of type “text”)

['','1','2',3,,'4',,undefined,,,'5'].join('').split(''); 
// output:  ["1","2","3","4","5"]

or – Classic way: simple iteration

var arr = [1,2,null, undefined,3,,3,,,0,,,[],,{},,5,,6,,,,],
    len = arr.length, i;

for(i = 0; i < len; i++ )
    arr[i] && arr.push(arr[i]);  // copy non-empty values to the end of the array

arr.splice(0 , len);  // cut the array and leave only the non-empty values

arr // [1,2,3,3,[],Object{},5,6]

via jQuery:

var arr = [1,2,,3,,3,,,0,,,4,,4,,5,,6,,,,];

arr = $.grep(arr,function(n){ return n == 0 || n });

arr // [1, 2, 3, 3, 0, 4, 4, 5, 6]

UPDATE – just another fast, cool way (using ES6):

var arr = [1,2,null, undefined,3,,3,,,0,,,4,,4,,5,,6,,,,], 
    temp = [];

for(let i of arr)
    i && temp.push(i); // copy each non-empty value to the 'temp' array

arr = temp;
delete temp; // discard the variable

arr // [1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6]

Remove empty values

['foo', '',,,'',,null, ' ', 3, true, [], [1], {}, undefined, ()=>{}].filter(String)

// ["foo", null, " ", 3, true, [1], Object {}, undefined, ()=>{}]

Solution 3:

If you need to remove ALL empty values (“”, null, undefined and 0):

arr = arr.filter(function(e){return e}); 

To remove empty values and Line breaks:

arr = arr.filter(function(e){ return e.replace(/(\r\n|\n|\r)/gm,"")});

Example:

arr = ["hello",0,"",null,undefined,1,100," "]  
arr.filter(function(e){return e});

Return:

["hello", 1, 100, " "]

UPDATE (based on Alnitak’s comment)

In some situations you may want to keep “0” in the array and remove anything else (null, undefined and “”), this is one way:

arr.filter(function(e){ return e === 0 || e });

Return:

["hello", 0, 1, 100, " "]

Solution 4:

Simply one liner:

[1, false, "", undefined, 2].filter(Boolean); // [1, 2]

or using underscorejs.org:

_.filter([1, false, "", undefined, 2], Boolean); // [1, 2]
// or even:
_.compact([1, false, "", undefined, 2]); // [1, 2]

Solution 5:

If you’ve got Javascript 1.6 or later you can use Array.filter using a trivial return true callback function, e.g.:

arr = arr.filter(function() { return true; });

since .filter automatically skips missing elements in the original array.

The MDN page linked above also contains a nice error-checking version of filter that can be used in JavaScript interpreters that don’t support the official version.

Note that this will not remove null entries nor entries with an explicit undefined value, but the OP specifically requested “missing” entries.

Solution 6:

For removing holes, you should use

arr.filter(() => true)
arr.flat(0) // Currently stage 3, check compatibility before using this

For removing hole, and, falsy (null, undefined, 0, -0, NaN, “”, false, document.all) values:

arr.filter(x => x)

For removing hole, null, and, undefined:

arr.filter(x => x != null)
arr = [, null, (void 0), 0, -0, NaN, false, '', 42];
console.log(arr.filter(() => true)); // [null, (void 0), 0, -0, NaN, false, '', 42]
console.log(arr.filter(x => x)); // [42]
console.log(arr.filter(x => x != null)); // [0, -0, NaN, false, "", 42]