Remove empty elements from an array in Javascript


Question

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?

1
945
2/10/2018 11:18:16 PM

Accepted Answer

EDIT: This question was answered almost nine years ago when there were not many useful built-in methods in the Array.prototype.

Now, certainly, I would 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 typical 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 pass to the filter method, the Boolean constructor function, or 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 turns 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 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,,,,]);
789
8/21/2019 12:02:59 PM

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;

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, ()=>{}]

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