TOC
Utilities & Helpers:

The toArray() and makeArray() methods

In a previous article, we looked at how we could loop through a collection of jQuery elements with the each() method, but what if you need to do this with a regular JavaScript loop? In a situation like that, it might be useful to convert a collection of jQuery objects into an array of elements. This also allows you to apply some of the useful array-related functions on the collection, e.g. the ability to reverse the collection with the reverse() method.

The toArray() method

Let's jump straight to an example, where we use the toArray() method to take a collection of list item elements we just selected and turn them into a JavaScript array:

<ul id="toArrayTest">
        <li>John Doe</li>
        <li>Jane Doe</li>
        <li>Joe Doe</li>
</ul>

<script type="text/javascript">
$(function()
{
        var arrayOfNames = $("ul#toArrayTest li").toArray();
        arrayOfNames.reverse();
        for(var i = 0; i < arrayOfNames.length; i++)
        {
                $("ul#toArrayTest").append("<li>" + arrayOfNames[i].innerText + "</li>");
        }
});
</script>

As you can see, once we have the arrayOfNames, we call the reverse() method on it. Then we loop through it and append each name to the source list, but this time in the reverse order. All of this is basically just to show you how easy it is to use the toArray() method!

The makeArray() method

The makeArray() method allows you to take something that behaves like an array, but isn't, and turn it into an array. A great example of this is the jQuery object, returned by many jQuery methods. It's like an array, because it has a length property and you can iterate through it with the each() method, but that doesn't make it a native JavaScript array. This is also true for some methods in native JavaScript, like the getElementsByTagName() and getElementByClassName() methods, which returns a NodeList object.

<ul id="makeArrayTest">
        <li class="testItem">John Doe</li>
        <li class="testItem">Jane Doe</li>
        <li class="testItem">Joe Doe</li>
</ul>

<script type="text/javascript">
$(function()
{
        var arrayOfItems = $.makeArray(document.getElementsByClassName("testItem"));
        arrayOfItems.reverse();
        for(var i = 0; i < arrayOfItems.length; i++)
        {
                $("ul#makeArrayTest").append("<li>" + arrayOfItems[i].innerText + "</li>");
        }
});
</script>

Here we use a combination of native JavaScript and jQuery to demonstrate how the makeArray() method works. As soon as we have a NodeList containing the desired list items, we can turn it into an array with the makeArray() method and then work with it like a native JavaScript array, much like we did in the first example.

Summary

In this article, we have learned more about another couple of nice utility methods from the jQuery framework. They don't do anything you can't do with plain JavaScript, but they do it with much less code!