What is the most efficient way to deep clone an object in JavaScript?

What is the most efficient way to deep clone an object in JavaScript?

What is the most efficient way to clone a JavaScript object? I’ve seen obj = eval(uneval(o)); being used, but that’s non-standard and only supported by Firefox. I’ve done things like obj = JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(o)); but question the efficiency. I’ve also seen recursive copying functions with various flaws.

I’m surprised no canonical solution exists.

Solutions/Answers:

Solution 1:

2019-June note: This was originally a reply to another answer, not a proper response to this question. No idea why it was picked as the right answer. But since the upvotes snowballed and it’s by far the #1 answer to this question, it will summarize the solutions as a wiki answer.

Native deep cloning

It’s called “structured cloning”, works experimentally in Node 11 and later, and hopefully will land in browsers. See this answer for more details.

Fast cloning with data loss – JSON.parse/stringify

If you do not use Dates, functions, undefined, Infinity, RegExps, Maps, Sets, Blobs, FileLists, ImageDatas, sparse Arrays, Typed Arrays or other complex types within your object, a very simple one liner to deep clone an object is:

JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(object))

const a = {
  string: 'string',
  number: 123,
  bool: false,
  nul: null,
  date: new Date(),  // stringified
  undef: undefined,  // lost
  inf: Infinity,  // forced to 'null'
  re: /.*/,  // lost
}
console.log(a);
console.log(typeof a.date);  // Date object
const clone = JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(a));
console.log(clone);
console.log(typeof clone.date);  // result of .toISOString()

See Corban’s answer for benchmarks.

Reliable cloning using a library

Since cloning objects is not trivial (complex types, circular references, function etc.), most major libraries provide function to clone objects. Don’t reinvent the wheel – if you’re already using a library, check if it has an object cloning function. For example,

ES6

For completeness, note that ES6 offers two shallow copy mechanisms: Object.assign() and the spread operator.

Solution 2:

Checkout this benchmark: http://jsben.ch/#/bWfk9

In my previous tests where speed was a main concern I found

JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(obj))

to be the slowest way to deep clone an object (it is slower than jQuery.extend with deep flag set true by 10-20%).

jQuery.extend is pretty fast when the deep flag is set to false (shallow clone). It is a good option, because it includes some extra logic for type validation and doesn’t copy over undefined properties, etc., but this will also slow you down a little.

If you know the structure of the objects you are trying to clone or can avoid deep nested arrays you can write a simple for (var i in obj) loop to clone your object while checking hasOwnProperty and it will be much much faster than jQuery.

Lastly if you are attempting to clone a known object structure in a hot loop you can get MUCH MUCH MORE PERFORMANCE by simply in-lining the clone procedure and manually constructing the object.

JavaScript trace engines suck at optimizing for..in loops and checking hasOwnProperty will slow you down as well. Manual clone when speed is an absolute must.

var clonedObject = {
  knownProp: obj.knownProp,
  ..
}

Beware using the JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(obj)) method on Date objects – JSON.stringify(new Date()) returns a string representation of the date in ISO format, which JSON.parse() doesn’t convert back to a Date object. See this answer for more details.

Additionally, please note that, in Chrome 65 at least, native cloning is not the way to go. According to this JSPerf, performing native cloning by creating a new function is nearly 800x slower than using JSON.stringify which is incredibly fast all the way across the board.

Update for ES6

If you are using Javascript ES6 try this native method for cloning or shallow copy.

Object.assign({}, obj);

Solution 3:

Assuming that you have only variables and not any functions in your object, you can just use:

var newObject = JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(oldObject));

Solution 4:

Structured Cloning

The HTML standard includes an internal structured cloning/serialization algorithm that can create deep clones of objects. It is still limited to certain built-in types, but in addition to the few types supported by JSON it also supports Dates, RegExps, Maps, Sets, Blobs, FileLists, ImageDatas, sparse Arrays, Typed Arrays, and probably more in the future. It also preserves references within the cloned data, allowing it to support cyclical and recursive structures that would cause errors for JSON.

Support in Node.js: Experimental ?

The v8 module in Node.js currently (as of Node 11) exposes the structured serialization API directly, but this functionality is still marked as “experimental”, and subject to change or removal in future versions. If you’re using a compatible version, cloning an object is as simple as:

const v8 = require('v8');

const structuredClone = obj => {
  return v8.deserialize(v8.serialize(obj));
};

Direct Support in Browsers: Maybe Eventually? ?

Browsers do not currently provide a direct interface for the structured cloning algorithm, but a global structuredClone() function has been discussed in whatwg/html#793 on GitHub. As currently proposed, using it for most purposes would be as simple as:

const clone = structuredClone(original);

Unless this is shipped, browsers’ structured clone implementations are only exposed indirectly.

Asynchronous Workaround: Usable. ?

The lower-overhead way to create a structured clone with existing APIs is to post the data through one port of a MessageChannels. The other port will emit a message event with a structured clone of the attached .data. Unfortunately, listening for these events is necessarily asynchronous, and the synchronous alternatives are less practical.

class StructuredCloner {
  constructor() {
    this.pendingClones_ = new Map();
    this.nextKey_ = 0;

    const channel = new MessageChannel();
    this.inPort_ = channel.port1;
    this.outPort_ = channel.port2;

    this.outPort_.onmessage = ({data: {key, value}}) => {
      const resolve = this.pendingClones_.get(key);
      resolve(value);
      this.pendingClones_.delete(key);
    };
    this.outPort_.start();
  }

  cloneAsync(value) {
    return new Promise(resolve => {
      const key = this.nextKey_++;
      this.pendingClones_.set(key, resolve);
      this.inPort_.postMessage({key, value});
    });
  }
}

const structuredCloneAsync = window.structuredCloneAsync =
    StructuredCloner.prototype.cloneAsync.bind(new StructuredCloner);

Example Use:

const main = async () => {
  const original = { date: new Date(), number: Math.random() };
  original.self = original;

  const clone = await structuredCloneAsync(original);

  // They're different objects:
  console.assert(original !== clone);
  console.assert(original.date !== clone.date);

  // They're cyclical:
  console.assert(original.self === original);
  console.assert(clone.self === clone);

  // They contain equivalent values:
  console.assert(original.number === clone.number);
  console.assert(Number(original.date) === Number(clone.date));

  console.log("Assertions complete.");
};

main();

Synchronous Workarounds: Awful! ?

There are no good options for creating structured clones synchronously. Here are a couple of impractical hacks instead.

history.pushState() and history.replaceState() both create a structured clone of their first argument, and assign that value to history.state. You can use this to create a structured clone of any object like this:

const structuredClone = obj => {
  const oldState = history.state;
  history.replaceState(obj, null);
  const clonedObj = history.state;
  history.replaceState(oldState, null);
  return clonedObj;
};

Example Use:

'use strict';

const main = () => {
  const original = { date: new Date(), number: Math.random() };
  original.self = original;

  const clone = structuredClone(original);
  
  // They're different objects:
  console.assert(original !== clone);
  console.assert(original.date !== clone.date);

  // They're cyclical:
  console.assert(original.self === original);
  console.assert(clone.self === clone);

  // They contain equivalent values:
  console.assert(original.number === clone.number);
  console.assert(Number(original.date) === Number(clone.date));
  
  console.log("Assertions complete.");
};

const structuredClone = obj => {
  const oldState = history.state;
  history.replaceState(obj, null);
  const clonedObj = history.state;
  history.replaceState(oldState, null);
  return clonedObj;
};

main();

Though synchronous, this can be extremely slow. It incurs all of the overhead associated with manipulating the browser history. Calling this method repeatedly can cause Chrome to become temporarily unresponsive.

The Notification constructor creates a structured clone of its associated data. It also attempts to display a browser notification to the user, but this will silently fail unless you have requested notification permission. In case you have the permission for other purposes, we’ll immediately close the notification we’ve created.

const structuredClone = obj => {
  const n = new Notification('', {data: obj, silent: true});
  n.onshow = n.close.bind(n);
  return n.data;
};

Example Use:

'use strict';

const main = () => {
  const original = { date: new Date(), number: Math.random() };
  original.self = original;

  const clone = structuredClone(original);
  
  // They're different objects:
  console.assert(original !== clone);
  console.assert(original.date !== clone.date);

  // They're cyclical:
  console.assert(original.self === original);
  console.assert(clone.self === clone);

  // They contain equivalent values:
  console.assert(original.number === clone.number);
  console.assert(Number(original.date) === Number(clone.date));
  
  console.log("Assertions complete.");
};

const structuredClone = obj => {
  const n = new Notification('', {data: obj, silent: true});
  n.close();
  return n.data;
};

main();

Solution 5:

If there wasn’t any builtin one, you could try:

function clone(obj) {
    if (obj === null || typeof (obj) !== 'object' || 'isActiveClone' in obj)
        return obj;

    if (obj instanceof Date)
        var temp = new obj.constructor(); //or new Date(obj);
    else
        var temp = obj.constructor();

    for (var key in obj) {
        if (Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty.call(obj, key)) {
            obj['isActiveClone'] = null;
            temp[key] = clone(obj[key]);
            delete obj['isActiveClone'];
        }
    }
    return temp;
}

Solution 6:

The efficient way to clone(not deep-clone) an object in one line of code

An Object.assign method is part of the ECMAScript 2015 (ES6) standard and does exactly what you need.

var clone = Object.assign({}, obj);

The Object.assign() method is used to copy the values of all enumerable own properties from one or more source objects to a target object.

Read more…

The polyfill to support older browsers:

if (!Object.assign) {
  Object.defineProperty(Object, 'assign', {
    enumerable: false,
    configurable: true,
    writable: true,
    value: function(target) {
      'use strict';
      if (target === undefined || target === null) {
        throw new TypeError('Cannot convert first argument to object');
      }

      var to = Object(target);
      for (var i = 1; i < arguments.length; i++) {
        var nextSource = arguments[i];
        if (nextSource === undefined || nextSource === null) {
          continue;
        }
        nextSource = Object(nextSource);

        var keysArray = Object.keys(nextSource);
        for (var nextIndex = 0, len = keysArray.length; nextIndex < len; nextIndex++) {
          var nextKey = keysArray[nextIndex];
          var desc = Object.getOwnPropertyDescriptor(nextSource, nextKey);
          if (desc !== undefined && desc.enumerable) {
            to[nextKey] = nextSource[nextKey];
          }
        }
      }
      return to;
    }
  });
}