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Make Javascript do List Comprehension

Posted by: admin November 30, 2017 Leave a comment


What is the cleanest way to make Javascript do something like Python’s list comprehension?

In Python if I have a list of objects whose name’s I want to ‘pull out’ I would do this…

list_of_names = [x.name for x in list_of_objects]

In javascript I don’t really see a more ‘beautiful’ way of doing that other than just using a for loop construct.

FYI: I’m using jQuery; maybe it has some nifty feature that makes this possible?

More specifically, say I use a jQuery selector like $('input') to get all input elements, how would I most cleanly create an array of all the name attributes for each of these input elements–i.e., all of the $('input').attr('name') strings in an array?


generic case using Array.map, requires javascript 1.6 (that means, works on every browser but IE < 9) or with an object augmenting framework like MooTools works on every browser:

var list_of_names = document.getElementsByTagName('input').map(
  function(element) { return element.getAttribute('name'); }

jQuery specific example, works on every browser:

var list_of_names = jQuery.map(jQuery('input'), function(element) { return jQuery(element).attr('name'); });

the other answers using .each are wrong; not the code itself, but the implementations are sub-optimal.

Edit: there’s also Array comprehensions introduced in Javascript 1.7, but this is purely dependant on syntax and cannot be emulated on browsers that lack it natively. This is the closest thing you can get in Javascript to the Python snippet you posted.


A list comprehension has a few parts to it.

  1. Selecting a set of something
  2. From a set of Something
  3. Filtered by Something

In JavaScript, as of ES5 (so I think that’s supported in IE9+, Chrome and FF) you can use the map and filter functions on an array.

You can do this with map and filter:

var list = [1,2,3,4,5].filter(function(x){ return x < 4; })
               .map(function(x) { return 'foo ' + x; });

console.log(list); //["foo 1", "foo 2", "foo 3"]

That’s about as good as it’s going to get without setting up additional methods or using another framework.

As for the specific question…

With jQuery:

$('input').map(function(i, x) { return x.name; });

Without jQuery:

var inputs = [].slice.call(document.getElementsByTagName('input'), 0),
    names = inputs.map(function(x) { return x.name; });

[].slice.call() is just to convert the NodeList to an Array.


Those interested in “beautiful” Javascript should probably check out CoffeeScript, a language which compiles to Javascript. It essentially exists because Javascript is missing things like list comprehension.

In particular, Coffeescript’s list comprehension is even more flexible than Python’s. See the list comprehension docs here.

For instance this code would result in an array of name attributes of input elements.

[$(inp).attr('name') for inp in $('input')]

A potential downside however is the resulting Javascript is verbose (and IMHO confusing):

var inp;
  (function() {
    var _i, _len, _ref, _results;
    _ref = $('input');
    _results = [];
    for (_i = 0, _len = _ref.length; _i < _len; _i++) {
      inp = _ref[_i];
    return _results;


So, python’s list comprehensions actually do two things at once: mapping and filtering. For example:

list_of_names = [x.name for x in list_of_object if x.enabled]

If you just want the mapping part, as your example shows, you can use jQuery’s map feature. If you also need filtering you can use jQuery’s “grep” feature.


A re-usable way of doing this is to create a tiny jQuery plugin like this:

jQuery.fn.getArrayOfNames = function() {
    var arr = [];
    this.each( function() { arr.push(this.name || ''); } );
    return arr;

Then you could use it like this:

var list_of_names = $('input').getArrayOfNames();

It’s not list comprehension, but that doesn’t exist in javascript. All you can do is use javascript and jquery for what it’s good for.


Yeah—I miss list comprehensions too.

Here’s an answer that’s slightly less verbose than @gonchuki’s answer and converts it into an actual array, instead of an object type.

var list_of_names = $('input').map(function() {
    return $(this).attr('name');

A use case of this is taking all checked checkboxes and joining them into the hash of the URL, like so:

window.location.hash = $('input:checked').map(function() {
    return $(this).attr('id');


There is a one line approach, it involves using a nested closure function in the
constructor of the list. And a function that goes a long with it to generate the sequence.
Its defined below:

var __ = generate = function(initial, max, list, comparision) {
  if (comparision(initial))
  return (initial += 1) == max + 1 ? list : __(initial, max, list, comparision);

[(function(l){ return l; })(__(0, 30, [], function(x) { return x > 10; }))];
// returns Array[20]
var val = 16;
[(function(l){ return l; })(__(0, 30, [], function(x) { return x % val == 4; }))];
// returns Array[2]

This is a range based implementation like Python’s range(min, max)
In addition the list comprehension follows this form:

[{closure function}({generator function})];

some tests:

var alist = [(function(l){ return l; })(__(0, 30, [], function(x) { return x > 10; }))];
var alist2 = [(function(l){ return l; })(__(0, 1000, [], function(x) { return x > 10; }))];
// returns Array[990]
var alist3 = [(function(l){ return l; })(__(40, 1000, [], function(x) { return x > 10; }))];
var threshold = 30*2;
var alist3 = [(function(l){ return l; })(__(0, 65, [], function(x) { return x > threshold; }))];
// returns Array[5]

While this solution is not the cleanest it gets the job done. And in production i’d probably advise against it.

Lastly one can choose not to use recursion for my “generate” method as it would do the job quicker. Or even better use a built in function from of the many popular Javascript libraries. Here is an overloaded implementation that would also accommodate for object properties

// A list generator overload implementation for
// objects and ranges based on the arity of the function.
// For example [(function(l){ return l; })(__(0, 30, [], function(x) { return x > 10; }))] 
// will use the first implementation, while
// [(function(l){ return l; })(__(objects, 'name', [], function(x, y) { var x = x || {}; return x[y] }))];
// will use the second.

var __ = generator = function(options) {
  return arguments.length == 4 ?
// A range based implemention, modeled after pythons range(0, 100)
  (function (initial, max, list, comparision) {
    var initial = arguments[0], max = arguments[1], list = arguments[2], comparision = arguments[3];
    if (comparision(initial))
    return (initial += 1) == max + 1 ? list : __(initial, max, list, comparision);
  })(arguments[0], arguments[1], arguments[2], arguments[3]):
// An object based based implementation. 
  (function (object, key, list, check, acc) {
    var object = arguments[0], key = arguments[1], list = arguments[2], check = arguments[3], acc = arguments[4];
    acc = acc || 0;
    if (check(object[acc], key))
    return (acc += 1) == list.length + 1 ? list : __(object, key, list, check, acc); 
  })(arguments[0], arguments[1], arguments[2], arguments[3], arguments[4]);


var threshold = 10;
[(function(l){ return l; })(__(0, 65, [], function(x) { return x > threshold; }))];
// returns Array[5] -> 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65
var objects = [{'name': 'joe'}, {'name': 'jack'}];
[(function(l){ return l; })(__(objects, 'name', [], function(x, y) { var x = x || {}; return x[y] }))];
// returns Array[1] -> ['Joe', 'Jack']
[(function(l){ return l; })(__(0, 300, [], function(x) { return x > 10; }))];

The syntax sucks I know!

Best of luck.


Array comprehensions are a part of the ECMAScript 6 draft. Currently (January 2014) only Mozilla/Firefox’s JavaScript implements them.

var numbers = [1,2,3,4];
var squares = [i*i for (i of numbers)]; // => [1,4,9,16]
var somesquares = [i*i for (i of numbers) if (i > 2)]; // => [9,16]

Though ECMAScript 6 recently switched to left-to-right syntax, similar to C# and F#:

var squares = [for (i of numbers) i*i]; // => [1,4,9,16]



This is an example of a place where Coffeescript really shines

pows = [x**2 for x in foo_arr]
list_of_names = [x.name for x in list_of_objects]

The equivalent Javascript would be:

var list_of_names, pows, x;

pows = [
  (function() {
    var _i, _len, _results;
    _results = [];
    for (_i = 0, _len = foo_arr.length; _i < _len; _i++) {
      x = foo_arr[_i];
      _results.push(Math.pow(x, 2));
    return _results;

list_of_names = [
  (function() {
    var _i, _len, _results;
    _results = [];
    for (_i = 0, _len = list_of_objects.length; _i < _len; _i++) {
      x = list_of_objects[_i];
    return _results;


Using jQuery .each() function, you can loop through each element, get the index of the current element and using that index, you can add the name attribute to the list_of_names array…

var list_of_names = new Array();

  list_of_names[index] = $(this).attr('name');

While this is essentially a looping method, which you specified you did not want, it is an incredibly neat implementation of looping and allows you to run the loop on specific selectors.

Hope that helps 🙂