Skip to main content Accessibility Feedback

A vanilla JS forEach() helper method

The browser-native Array.forEach() method is super handy and has great browser support (it works all the way back to IE9).

var jobs = ['web developer', 'carpenter', 'one-man band', 'ukulele tuner'];

jobs.forEach(function (job) {
	console.log(job + ' is a great job!');

So, why on earth would you need a helper function for it?

Unfortunately, it only works on arrays. If you wanted to loop through a NodeList, an HTMLElementCollection, or some other array-like object that’s not officially a proper array, it wouldn’t work.

A workaround

There are two ways around this:

  1. Convert the thing into an array.
  2. Use the call() method.

Option 2 looks like this in practice.

var jobs = document.querySelectorAll('.jobs');, function (job) {
	console.log(job.textContent + ' is a great job!');

That works great, but it’s a bit verbose to write each out each time. Let’s create a helper method!

A forEach() helper method

In our helper, we’ll accept the array-like object and callback as arguments. Then, we’ll plug them in to

var forEach = function (arr, callback) {, callback);

Now you can do this instead.

forEach(jobs, function (job) {
	console.log(job.textContent + ' is a great job!');

What about other Array methods?

What about other Array methods, like map and filter? Those also work in IE9 and up, but only on proper Arrays and no array-like object.

We use the same approach as before, but with a few small changes.

We’ll accept a third argument—method—for the Array method we want to run. If you leave it blank, let’s default to forEach(). Inside the helper function, we’ll use bracket notation instead of dot notation to call the method on the Array.prototype.

var forEach = function (arr, callback, method) {
	method = method || 'forEach';
	Array.prototype[method].call(arr, callback);

Since and Array.filter() return new arrays, we’ll return the result. And finally, let’s rename it to loop since it does more than forEach() now.

var loop = function (arr, callback, method) {
	method = method || 'forEach';
	return Array.prototype[method].call(arr, callback);

Now you can do things like this…

var jobs = document.querySelectorAll('.jobs');

// Creates a new array with the content of each item
var jobList = loop(jobs, function (job) {
	return job.textContent;
}, 'map');

// Filters out items that don't have the `.awesome` class on them
var jobList = loop(jobs, function (job) {
	return job.classList.contains('awesome');
}, 'filter');