_.pickby removes falsey values by default

2020-02-24

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~4 min read

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623 words

Recently found myself constructing an object with spread operators and using Lodash’s PickBy utility function when I noticed that it was stripping out any falsey values.

For example:

const _ = require("lodash")

const defaultValues = { name: "Stephen", d: 4 }

var myValues = { a: 1, b: "2", c: 3, d: undefined, e: null, f: 0 }

const constructedValues = { ...defaultValues, ..._.pickBy(myValues) }
console.log(constructedValues) // { name: 'Stephen', d: 4, a: 1, b: '2', c: 3 }

This is great! If a value is defined in the defaultValues but is not (or is null) in the myValues object, we can still see it! This handles a common problem with spreading - that of precedence. The objects or arrays that come later win in the case of conflict and so order matters.

const obj1 = { a: 1, b: 3 }
const obj2 = { a: 4, c: 5 }
const construct1 = { ...obj1, ...obj2 } // { a: 4, b: 3, c: 5 }
const construct2 = { ...obj2, ...obj1 } // { a: 1, c: 5, b: 3 }

Okay, so pickBy can defend against this situation nicely. But what about cases where you actually want the full object, falsey values and all, but don’t want to overwrite any values in the first object if it’s not defined later? That is, how do we get this object?

console.log(constructedValues) // { name: 'Stephen', d: 4, a: 1, b: '2', c: 3, e: null, f: 0}

Well, pickBy won’t work in this case because we need to compare the evaluated value against the other object.

For this, I came up with two approaches: the first using Object.entries and the second a for...in loop.

Object.entries Approach

The Object.entries method is like the Object.keys and Object.values, except it returns a tuple.

We can see how these relate with a simple example:

const obj = { a: 1, b: 3 }
const keys = Object.keys(obj) // [a, b]
const values = Object.values(obj) // [1, 3]
const entries = Object.entries(obj) // [[a,1],[b,3]]

Taking advantage of this, we can construct an array and then selectively (or conditionally) apply the values we want to our newly constructed object.

const defaultValuesClone = { ...defaultValues }
const myValuesEntries = Object.entries(myValues)
myValuesEntries.forEach((entry) => {
  const [key, value] = entry
  if (!defaultValuesClone[key] || value) {
    defaultValuesClone[key] = value
  }
})
console.log(defaultValuesClone) // { name: 'Stephen', d: 4, a: 1, b: '2', c: 3, e: null, f: 0 }

Wonderful! We have all of our keys present and nothing’s unnecessarily overwritten (i.e. the d is 4, not undefined).

For…In Loop

Like a for...of loop, the for...in loop iterates over a list. The difference is in what’s returned.1

  • for...in returns a list of keys
  • for...of returns a list of values
const secondValuesClone = { ...defaultValues }
for (const key in myValues) {
  if (!secondValuesClone[key] || myValues[key]) {
    secondValuesClone[key] = myValues[key]
  }
}

console.log(secondValuesClone) // { name: 'Stephen', d: 4, a: 1, b: '2', c: 3, e: null, f: 0 }

Here too, we’re able to get our object with all of the values we expect and refrain from overwriting values where no new one exists.

Conclusion

Fortunately, in my case, I only had to compare two objects. I could see how it might be useful to extract this type of logic into a helper function if I were to repeat this comparison (or make the comparison logic more complex).

I’ve also pulled together a repl for all of this code if you want to play with it.

Footnotes


Hi there and thanks for reading! My name's Stephen. I live in Chicago with my wife, Kate, and dog, Finn. Want more? See about and get in touch!