JavaScript Logo - spread syntaxJavaScript spread syntax provides a way to convert an array into a comma-separated list.

In this article, I will cover the basics of JavaScript spread syntax. But first, let’s start by taking a step back and thinking about how functions work in JavaScript. A function expects a comma-separated list of arguments, so, when we call a function, we need to provide zero, one or more arguments, separated by a comma. But what happens when we don’t know exactly what all of these arguments are? Now it may be tempting to simply pass an array, but then this array would be seen by the called argument as simply the first argument. In other words, argument[0] in the function would be an array. But this is not what we want; we want to pass an array to a function and for that array to be interpreted by the function as a comma-separated list of arguments.

Why is JavaScript Spread Syntax So Helpful?

So here’s where the spread syntax comes in: it allows us to put the arguments in an array, and then pass that array to the function we are calling. And, actually, this is only one example of how the JavaScript spread syntax can be helpful, but it certainly is a great way to start the conversation.

Inspect Arguments in a Function – Example # 1 A

The Output from the inspectArguments function – Example # 1 B

Inside every JavaScript function, the “arguments” keyword provides a reference to all arguments that were passed into this execution of the function. The “arguments” keyword is not an array, but an array-like object with a “length” property. Fortunately, however, this “length” property allows us to iterate the “arguments” object as if it were an array. The “inspectArguments” function from Example # 1 A contains a for-loop, which iterates over all the arguments it receives. Inside of that for-loop, we output the value of each argument.

Nothing too special there.

On the last line of Example # 1 A, we call the “inspectArguments” function, passing it: “…letters”. What’s happening here is that instead of passing the letters array, we pass “…letters”, which spreads the letters array out into a comma-separated list. Example # 1 B contains the output from Example # 1 A, and as expected, we see the contents of the letters array.

Spreading Out the Arguments – Example # 2 A

The Output Has Changed – Example # 2 B

Example # 2 A is similar to Example # 1 A, except in the way that we call the “inspectArguments” function. In other words, instead of passing just “…letters”, we pass “x, y, …letters”. This allows us to specify that the first two arguments that the “inspectArguments” function receives are “x” and “y” and the rest of the arguments is the content of the letters array. The point here is that we can mix the use of literals and the spread syntax. So as expected, Example # 2 B shows the output, which is similar to Example # 1 B, except that “x” and “y” are the first two console.log statements.

Using Spread Syntax for Both Arguments – Example # 3 A

The Output – Example # 3 B

Now, in Example # 3 A, we take things a little further. We use the spread syntax twice, which calls the “inspectArguments” function, passing the contents of both the days and letters arrays, spread out into one comma-separated list. Consequently, the output that you see in Example # 3 B is exactly as expected: the contents of the days and letters arrays.

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