Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
Ben Nadel at cf.Objective() 2010 (Minneapolis, MN) with: Doug Hughes and Ezra Parker and Dan Wilson and John Mason and Jason Dean and Luis Majano and Mark Mandel and Brian Kotek and Wil Genovese and Rob Brooks-Bilson and Andy Matthews and Simeon Bateman and Ray Camden and Chris Rockett and Joe Bernard and Dan Skaggs and Byron Raines and Barney Boisvert and Simon Free and Steve 'Cutter' Blades and Seth Bienek and Katie Bienek and Jeff Coughlin
Ben Nadel at cf.Objective() 2010 (Minneapolis, MN) with: Doug Hughes@doughughes ) , Ezra Parker , Dan Wilson@DanWilson ) , John Mason@john_mason_ ) , Jason Dean@JasonPDean ) , Luis Majano@lmajano ) , Mark Mandel@Neurotic ) , Brian Kotek , Wil Genovese@wilgeno ) , Rob Brooks-Bilson@styggiti ) , Andy Matthews@commadelimited ) , Simeon Bateman@simBateman ) , Ray Camden@cfjedimaster ) , Chris Rockett ( @RockettMan ) , Joe Bernard@JEBernard ) , Dan Skaggs@dskaggs ) , Byron Raines ( @byronraines ) , Barney Boisvert@barneyb ) , Simon Free@simonfree ) , Steve 'Cutter' Blades@cutterbl ) , Seth Bienek@sethbienek ) , Katie Bienek@KatieBienek ) , and Jeff Coughlin@jeffcoughlin )

Javascript Objects Cannot Have Complex Index Values

By Ben Nadel on

This was just a shot in the dark, but I wanted to see if Javascript Objects could be indexed by other objects rather than just strings (yes I know Strings are technically objects too). I wanted to see if something along these lines would work:

  • var objIndex = {
  • DOMElement: { ... },
  • DOMElement: { ... },
  • DOMElement: { ... },
  • ... etc ...
  • };

Basically, I wanted to see if Javascript objects could act like Java HashTables that can take any type of object as an index value.

After some quick testing, I realized that this did not work. At first, though, I thought it might because no errors were thrown. Javascript actually lets you do this; but, not in the I wanted - what it actually does (from what I can gather) is that it creates an index value in the following manner:

  • var objIndex = {
  • DOMElement: { ... }
  • };

... becomes:

  • var objIndex = {
  • DOMElement.toString(): { ... }
  • };

I believe that Javascript objects requires string-based indexing and therefore takes any object that you pass to it (to be used as an index value) and converts it to a string. Part of the problem is that this string version of the object is rather generic. The P and SPAN tags convert to the following regardless of markup (in FireFox):

[object HTMLParagraphElement]
[object HTMLSpanElement]

Therefore, all P and SPAN tags would be indexed using the same values (respectively) no matter how many there were in the page.

Anyway, it was just a thought.

Reader Comments

If you override an object's toString() method, then you can control how JavaScript sets the key.

domElement.toString = function() {

Sadly, IE doesn't let you override for DOM objects. But this works for custom objects in all browsers.