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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

JavaScript get_class and is_a functions

Update a new version of get_class, works with prototype classes too.

We often need to know the type of a variable with JavaScript but every dedicated function, such typeof or instanceof, are not always perfect.

For example, the typeof a string, that should be declared as both primitive and object value, should be "string" or should be "object".

var $1 = "test",
$2 = new String($1);

typeof($2), // object
typeof($1), // string
$2 == $1, // true
$2 === $1, // false
$2 instanceof String, // true
$1 instanceof String, // false

$2.constructor === $1.constructor
// true !!!

It's quite caotic ... but perfect, but every time We need to know if a variable is exactly that kind of variable We should
verify the typeof or the constructor and the instanceof ... little boring ?

With PHP We have two nice functions (... more than two, that's why I'm developing jhp) that are perfectly to know the class name of a variable or to know if that var "is a" class type.

These are my two proposal, one to know the generic class name of a variable and one to know if a variable is a class.

function get_class(obj){ //
function get_class(obj){
return "".concat(obj).replace(/^.*function\s+([^\s]*|[^\(]*)\([^\x00]+$/, "$1") || "anonymous";
var result = "";
if(obj === null)
result = "null";
else if(obj === undefined)
result = "undefined";
else {
result = get_class(obj.constructor);
if(result === "Object" && obj.constructor.prototype) {
for(result in this) {
if(typeof(this[result]) === "function" && obj instanceof this[result]) {
result = get_class(this[result]);
return result;
function is_a(obj, className){ //
className = className.replace(/[^\w\$_]+/, ""); // paranoia
return get_class(obj) === className && {function:1}[eval("typeof(".concat(className,")"))] && obj instanceof eval(className)

With get_class function You could know the name of the constructor of a variable.
This means that if You need a string, both primitive and object, You could simply do a check like this

if(get_class(somevar) === "String")
// ... do stuff, the var is exactly a string

You could even use a switch

switch(get_class(somevar)) {
case "String":
case "Number":
somevar += 1;
case "Boolean":
somevar = !somevar;

... or if You prefere, a portable object ...

var operations = {
String:function(v){document.write(v); return v},
Number:function(v){return v + 1}
somevar = operations[get_class(somevar)](somevar);

Finally, if You want to know if a variable is exaclty a type of class You could use is_a, that's a deeper check than instanceof because doesn't verify only the instance name.

is_a(null, "Date"), // false
is_a(undefined, "Date"), // false
is_a(Date, "Date"), // false
is_a(new Date, "Date"), // true
is_a({}, "Object"), // true
is_a([], "Array"), // true
is_a("", "String"), // false
is_a(new String(""), "String"), // true
is_a(1, "Number"), // false
is_a(new Number(1), "Number"), // true
is_a(false, "Boolean"), // false
is_a(new Boolean(0), "Boolean"),// true
is_a(/re/, "RegExp"), // true
is_a(Math, "Math"), // false
is_a(Math, "Object") // true


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nice post!

matubaum said...

im trying to use the get_class() function. It works great in firefox but it IE it returns "undefined". I wanna use it to know what kind of element is the object. I mean: if it's a HTMLDivElement, HTMLimputElement, etc. Do i have to use any other function???

Andrea Giammarchi said...

Sorry Matias, but IE DOM is crap and constructor does not exists as native DOM classes as well.

No way to know their nature, until you will implement a good outerHTML parser to recognise the element.

Anonymous said...

Nice, except it's not useful at all for certain types of objects.

var foo = function() { return "foo"; }

var bar = new foo();

alert( get_class(bar) );

Returns "anonymous"..

Anonymous said...

u r blog Is very nice