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every and some: Learning JavaScript's Array Methods by Building Them

This article walks through how to use and implement the every and some array methods in JavaScript.

0xZakk
0xZakk
. 5 min read
every and some: Learning JavaScript's Array Methods by Building Them

I’ve made a lot of progress on the list of array methods, having covered eight so far. In this article, I’ll cover two more: every and some, both of which are great methods for understanding the contents of an array.

How They Works

It’s pretty common to want to test the contents of an array before running some code against it. Perhaps you need to check that every user is active before starting the game loop in an online game. In JavaScript-speak, you want to check that the active property is set to true for every user object in the array of users. This is where the every method comes in handy: it will return true or false based on a test function.

The every method checks that every object passes the test; the some method checks that at least one object passes the test (i.e. that some of them do). So if you need at least one user to be a host for the game to start (i.e. at least one user object in the users array needs to have a host property of true) you can use some to check for that.

The every Method

Thinking back, my implementation of the concat method took any number of arrays supplied as arguments and merged them together into a single array. There is one small issue with my implementation though: it doesn’t check that all the values passed in are in fact arrays:

function concat(...args) {
  let final = []

  args.forEach(arg => {
    final = [ ...final, ...arg ]
  })

  return final
}

I can fix this quickly and easily with the every method:

function concat(...args) {
  let areArrays = args.every(arg => Array.isArray(arg))
  if (!areArrays) return new Error("Every argument must be an array.")

  // Rest of code ...
}

Now, if someone tries to pass in a value that isn’t an array, they’ll get an error back:

concat([1,2,3], 'a', [4, 5, 6])
// Error: 'Every argument must be an array.'

This is very simple error handling, but it will save my users from receiving an error that doesn’t make sense.

The important part that makes all this work is the arrow function I’m passing in to the every method. That method must return a boolean value, which determines the final output. If every invocation of this function returns true (or a truthy value), then the call to every will return true. If any one invocation does not return true, then every will return false.

The some method

The some method will return true if any item passes the test function. That is, if any of the test function invocations return true, then the some method will return true:

const vals = ['a', 1, 5, NaN, true, ['h','e','l','l','o'], 'z', 'world']
vals.some(val => Array.isArray(val)) // true

In the above snippet of code, we have a bunch of random values in an array. On the second line, we’re testing that some (so, at least one) of the values is an array. The sixth item in vals is an array of strings, so we get true back.

I’ll admit here that I rarely find a use for the some method. Instead, I tend to test the output of filter, because if I need at least one of the values in an array to pass a test, I probably also need those specific values back. The filter method lets me do both at once. If the output array of filter has a length of 0, then I know that no items passed my test function and can display that fact to the user. If any of them did pass the test, I now already have those values.

Implementing Our Own

We’ll start by implementing the every method and then move on to implementing the some method. Both implementations will look pretty similar, which is why we’re treating them both together in this article. There is only one small difference in the internal logic that makes them work.

Implementing every

To start off, I need a function that accepts an array and a callback. The callback will get invoked on every item in the array, which is how I’ll calculate our result:

function every(vals, cb) {
  // More here later 
}

Next, I need to loop through vals and check that invoking cb on each value returns true, or a truthy value:

function every(vals, cb) {
  
  for (let i = 0; i < vals.length; i++) {
    let res = cb( vals[i] )
    // More here later
  }

}

I’ve got a standard for loop that gets the current value of the array and passes it into the cb callback function, capturing the result in res.

Now, if res is ever false or falsey, I want to return false. I can do that with a simple conditional:

function every(vals, cb) {

  for (let i = 0; i < vals.length; i++) {
    let res = cb( vals[i] )
    if (!res) return false
  }

}

If res is every false (or, not true) then we return false immediately. I want to make it so by default we return true, so I can add that too:

function every(vals, cb) {

  for (let i = 0; i < vals.length; i++) {
    let res = cb( vals[i] )
    if (!res) return false
  }
  
  return true
}

And we’re set:

const vals1 = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
const vals2 = [1, 2, '3', 4, 5]
const isNumber = val => typeof val === 'number'

every(vals1, isNumber) // true
every(vals2, isNumber) // false

My first array of values only includes numbers in it, so it returns true when we pass it into our implementation of every with the test function isNumber. By contrast, the second array of values has a string in it ('3'), so it returns false.

Implementing some

My implementation of every checks that every value passes the test function; my implementation of some needs to check that any value passes the test function. The implementation will be very similar, but with a small tweak.

To start, I need a function, called some that accepts an array and a callback function:

function some(vals, cb) {
  // More here later
}

Then, we need to loop through the vals array and pass each value to the cb function, just like in our implementation of every:

function some(vals, cb) {
  
  for (let i = 0; i < vals.length; i++) {
    let res = cb( vals[i] )
	// More here later
  }
  
}

This is the part where things become a little different: I’m going to reverse the order of my return values. If res is true (or truthy), then I’m going to return true from some. Otherwise, I’m going to return false from some:

function some(vals, cb) {
  
  for (let i = 0; i < vals.length; i++) {
    let res = cb( vals[i] )
    if (res) return true
  }
  
  return false
}

I’ll use this to test if any of the values in the previous two arrays are strings:

const vals1 = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
const vals2 = [1, 2, '3', 4, 5]
const isString = val => typeof val === 'string'

some(vals1, isString) // false
some(vals2, isString) // true

The first array only contains numbers, so my invocation of some returns false (no value is a string). My second invocation returns true because one of the values in vals2 is a string ('3').

Conclusion

If you’ve been following along with this series of articles then you’ll see, once again, that these methods are a lot simpler and easier to implement than you might initially think.

As I was planning out this article, I assumed I would need a flag value in every and some in order to make my implementations work. A flag value is a variable you set at the beginning of the function definition and use to exit out of the function if it every changes.

That ended up being too complicated for what I needed, so I’ll have to explain it in a future article. But you can see how it’s easy to overcomplicate what these methods do.

These are the seventh and eighth array methods I’ve written about. If you enjoyed this one, then there are two things you can do:

The first is to give me a follow on Twitter, so you won’t miss future articles in this series.

The second is to go and read some of the other articles I’ve written on array methods:

JavaScript

0xZakk

Zakk is a software engineer and writer. In 2021, he co-founded CabinDAO.