Javascript has no hash table object. In fact, all objects are hashes.

var hashPetName = new Object();
  hashPetName["dog"] = "Rex";
  hashPetName["cat"] = "Mistigri";
  console.log("My dog's name is " + hashPetName["dog"]
      + " and my cat's name is " + hashPetName["cat"] );

It's a little overwhelming to write it like that so let's use a simpler form.

var hashPetName = {
    dog: "Rex",
    cat: "Mistigri"
  console.log("My dog's name is " + hashPetName["dog"]
      + " and my cat's name is " + hashPetName["cat"] );

Great! That's it about javascript hashes, now I can go groom my cat.


Why can I use an object to emulate a hash? Can I do the same thing with a Number object? Let's try with the same code than above but with a Number instead of an Object.

[source:javascript] var hashPetName = new Number(); // Magic is here! hashPetName[“dog”] = “Rex”; hashPetName[“cat”] = “Mistigri”;

alert(“My dog's name is ” + hashPetName[“dog”] + “ and my cat's name is ” + hashPetName[“cat”] ); [/source]

It works!!! What can we understand of this?

All objects are hashes too

When you are javascripting, forget everything you know about other languages, it won't be any help. I'm adding to the list
  • All objects are hashes
When we create an object, its properties and methods are added to the hash of the object.

[source:javascript] // Create a class function TheClass() { // Adding a property = “the name”; }

// Create the object theObject = new TheClass();

// Alert the property name alert(;

// Alert the property name using the hash alert(theObject[“name”]); [/source]

In this example, you see that using theObject.theProperty is the same thing that using theObject[“theProperty”].

Dynamically add a property/method to the object

In my first example, I didn't create the property in the constructor before using it. As you saw, it's easy to dynamically add a property or a method.

[source:javascript] // Create a class function TheClass() { }

var theObject = new TheClass();

theObject[“age”] = 3; // Create a new 'age' property theObject.fullName = “Mistigri”; // Create a new 'fullName' property

theObject.alertDetail = function() { alert(this[“fullName”] + “ is ” + this.age); }

theObject“alertDetail”; [/source]

Beware! The new property/method will only be available to the instance you're working on. If you want to add a new property/method to every instances of the class, use prototypes.

Using an array thinking it's a hash

One of the most common mistake I see is to use an Array object thinking that's the only one that you can use the brackets to create a hash. Even if it works, it's not how it should be done. I recommend the use of Object instead.

[Update : A friend of mine pointed me out that I should have talked about hash tables (or associative arrays) instead of hashes.]

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