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Why isn't there an Object.forEach() method?

One thing that’s always seemed like a big miss to me is the lack of methods for iterating over objects.

Arrays can use forEach() to loop, map() to create a new array based on an existing one, and filter() to reduce a set of items down to a smaller set.

Objects have none of these.

Today, let’s look at some newer ways to iterate over objects that go beyond the humble loop.

An array of object keys

The Object.keys() method returns an array of keys from an object. Pass in the object as an argument.

var lunch = {
	sandwich: 'turkey',
	drink: 'soda',
	chips: true,
	desert: 'cookie'

// Returns ["lunch", "drink", "chips", "desert"]

This method is kind of clunky.

You rarely want only an objects keys by themselves. The real value of an object is the key/value pair relationship.

Using Array methods on Objects

On the surface, Object.keys() feels pretty limited in use. But… you can actually use it to apply Array methods to objects.

Since Object.keys() returns an array, we can call any of the Array methods on it. Inside your callback method, you can use the key to get the item’s value in the object.

Let’s look at some examples.

Looping through an object

You can kind of fudge your way into an Object.forEach() method like this.

var lunch = {
	sandwich: 'turkey',
	drink: 'soda',
	chips: true,
	desert: 'cookie'

Object.keys(lunch).forEach(function (key) {
	console.log(key); // The object key
	console.log(lunch[key]); // The object value

Honestly, a loops is about the same amount of work for something like this.


Let’s look at a different object for this one.

Imagine you had an object of toppings for a sandwich, with boolean true/false values for whether or not the sandwich should include them.

var toppings = {
	mustard: false,
	mayo: true,
	tomato: true,
	lettuce: true,
	pickles: false,
	onions: false

You want to get back an array of just the toppings that should go on the sandwich. Object.keys() and Array.filter() work great here.

var sandwichToppings = Object.keys(toppings).filter(function (topping) {
	// Only return toppings with a value of true
	return toppings[topping];

// Logs ["mayo", "tomato", "lettuce"]

Browser Compatibility

Your ultimate support depends on the Array methods you’re trying to use, but Object.keys() works in all modern browsers and back IE9.