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Deleting array elements in JavaScript - delete vs splice


Question

What is the difference between using the delete operator on the array element as opposed to using the Array.splice method?

For example:

myArray = ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd'];

delete myArray[1];
//  or
myArray.splice (1, 1);

Why even have the splice method if I can delete array elements like I can with objects?

2020/06/25
1
1345
6/25/2020 12:07:59 PM

Accepted Answer

delete will delete the object property, but will not reindex the array or update its length. This makes it appears as if it is undefined:

> myArray = ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd']
  ["a", "b", "c", "d"]
> delete myArray[0]
  true
> myArray[0]
  undefined

Note that it is not in fact set to the value undefined, rather the property is removed from the array, making it appear undefined. The Chrome dev tools make this distinction clear by printing empty when logging the array.

> myArray[0]
  undefined
> myArray
  [empty, "b", "c", "d"]

myArray.splice(start, deleteCount) actually removes the element, reindexes the array, and changes its length.

> myArray = ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd']
  ["a", "b", "c", "d"]
> myArray.splice(0, 2)
  ["a", "b"]
> myArray
  ["c", "d"]
2018/03/05
1711
3/5/2018 9:56:46 AM

Array.remove() Method

John Resig, creator of jQuery created a very handy Array.remove method that I always use it in my projects.

// Array Remove - By John Resig (MIT Licensed)
Array.prototype.remove = function(from, to) {
  var rest = this.slice((to || from) + 1 || this.length);
  this.length = from < 0 ? this.length + from : from;
  return this.push.apply(this, rest);
};

and here's some examples of how it could be used:

// Remove the second item from the array
array.remove(1);
// Remove the second-to-last item from the array
array.remove(-2);
// Remove the second and third items from the array
array.remove(1,2);
// Remove the last and second-to-last items from the array
array.remove(-2,-1);

John's website

2013/04/03

Because delete only removes the object from the element in the array, the length of the array won't change. Splice removes the object and shortens the array.

The following code will display "a", "b", "undefined", "d"

myArray = ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd']; delete myArray[2];

for (var count = 0; count < myArray.length; count++) {
    alert(myArray[count]);
}

Whereas this will display "a", "b", "d"

myArray = ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd']; myArray.splice(2,1);

for (var count = 0; count < myArray.length; count++) {
    alert(myArray[count]);
}
2012/08/24

I stumbled onto this question while trying to understand how to remove every occurrence of an element from an Array. Here's a comparison of splice and delete for removing every 'c' from the items Array.

var items = ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd'];

while (items.indexOf('c') !== -1) {
  items.splice(items.indexOf('c'), 1);
}

console.log(items); // ["a", "b", "d", "a", "b", "d"]

items = ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd'];

while (items.indexOf('c') !== -1) {
  delete items[items.indexOf('c')];
}

console.log(items); // ["a", "b", undefined, "d", "a", "b", undefined, "d"]
‚Äč
2019/02/01

From Core JavaScript 1.5 Reference > Operators > Special Operators > delete Operator :

When you delete an array element, the array length is not affected. For example, if you delete a[3], a[4] is still a[4] and a[3] is undefined. This holds even if you delete the last element of the array (delete a[a.length-1]).

2009/02/01

splice will work with numeric indices.

whereas delete can be used against other kind of indices..

example:

delete myArray['text1'];
2012/02/11

Source: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/500606
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