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Deep Clone Object Javascript: Javascript Explained

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Deep cloning is an important concept in understanding Javascript. In this article, we’ll be discussing what deep cloning is, its benefits, and tips for using it. We’ll also be looking at some of the common pitfalls to avoid when working with objects and arrays, and discussing alternatives to deep cloning.

What is Deep Cloning?

Deep cloning is the process of creating a new object or array that is an exact replica of an existing one. The main difference between deep and shallow cloning is that with deep cloning, not only do you create replicas of the original values, but all nested values are also cloned, meaning any objects or arrays inside the original object or array are replicated as well. As a result, the new object and its nested values are completely independent of the original object.

Deep cloning is often used when you need to make sure that the original object or array is not affected by any changes made to the cloned object. This is especially useful when you need to make changes to an object or array without affecting the original data. Deep cloning can also be used to create a backup of an object or array, allowing you to easily revert back to the original data if needed.

Benefits of Deep Cloning

The main advantage of using deep cloning is that it lets you make changes to a cloned object without changing the original object. This is useful when you need to make changes to a complex object but don’t want to alter the original object. Deep cloning also makes it easier to work with complex objects without having to loop through all its elements or properties. Additionally, deep cloning allows developers to copy objects into other contexts without running the risk of inadvertently altering the values.

Deep cloning also helps to reduce the amount of code needed to make changes to an object. By cloning an object, developers can make changes to the clone without having to write code to modify the original object. This can save time and effort when making changes to complex objects. Additionally, deep cloning can help to ensure that the original object remains unchanged, which can be beneficial in certain situations.

How to Deep Clone an Object in Javascript

Deep cloning an object in Javascript can be achieved with the help of the spread operator, which takes all the properties of an object and creates a new format for it. The syntax for this is as follows:

let clonedObject = {...originalObject}

Here, originalObject is being spread out into a new clone called clonedObject. This will create a shallow copy of the original object and create a replica of the same object. To create a deep clone, we need to use the JSON stringify and parse methods together. The syntax is as follows:

let clonedObject = JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(originalObject))

This method creates an exact replica of originalObject, including all nested objects and arrays. Note that this method will lose any methods present in the original object. To keep methods intact, you should use a third-party cloning library like lodash.cloneDeep().

It is important to note that deep cloning an object can be a time-consuming process, as it requires the object to be serialized and deserialized. This can be a costly operation, especially when dealing with large objects. Therefore, it is important to consider the performance implications of deep cloning an object before implementing it.

Working with Arrays and Objects Using Deep Cloning

When working with arrays and objects, you may need to deep clone them multiple times. This is because if you deep clone an array or object, any changes made inside it will not affect the original array or object. You can then use these clones to make changes without altering your original data set.

In some cases, it might not be necessary to deep clone. For instance, if you need to make changes to an array or object only once, shallow cloning should suffice. Note that shallow cloning will create a copy of all properties present in the object or array but its nested values will still be connected to the original object.

It is important to note that deep cloning can be computationally expensive, as it requires creating a new copy of the entire data structure. Therefore, it is important to consider the trade-off between the cost of deep cloning and the benefit of having a separate copy of the data.

Pros and Cons of Deep Cloning in Javascript

The main advantage of using deep cloning is that you can make changes to nested objects without affecting the original object. This allows you to keep your code clean, and also prevents data loss.

However, there are some drawbacks to deep cloning. It takes more memory than shallow cloning as it clones all the elements within an object or array. Additionally, due to its recursiveness, it can be slow if used naively on large amounts of data. Finally, due to its reliance on the JSON stringify / parse methods, any methods connected to objects and arrays won’t be cloned over.

Another potential issue with deep cloning is that it can be difficult to debug. If an error occurs during the cloning process, it can be difficult to trace the source of the problem. Additionally, if the data structure is complex, it can be difficult to ensure that all elements are cloned correctly.

Common Pitfalls When Using Deep Cloning

When using deep cloning, it’s important to be aware of certain pitfalls that may arise. For instance, if your object or array contains circular references, the cloning process will break and throw an error. Similarly, since deep cloning relies on the JSON stringify/parse methods, it won’t know how to handle functions, which will be ignored as a result.

Finally, be aware that if you’re working with very large objects or arrays, then deep cloning may become slow and inefficient due to its recursive nature.

It’s also important to note that deep cloning can be memory intensive, as it requires the creation of a new object or array. This can be especially problematic if you’re working with a large number of objects or arrays. To avoid this issue, you may want to consider using shallow cloning instead.

Alternatives to Deep Cloning in Javascript

If you don’t want to use deep cloning for whatever reason, there are some alternatives available. For instance, you could use a third-party library like dynamicClone, which allows you to clone objects and arrays quickly and efficiently with as little setup as possible. Alternatively, you could use lodash’s cloneDeep() function, which allows you to traverse through nested objects and arrays and create a replica of all their values.

Tips for Using Deep Cloning in Javascript

When using deep cloning for your projects, there are some tips that may help you get the most out of it. Firstly, make sure that your objects and arrays don’t contain circular references. If they do, choose an alternative cloning method like dynamicClone or lodash’s cloneDeep() function. Secondly, if you’re cloning large objects or arrays, use the JSON stringify / parse methods instead of simple spread operator for better performance.

Finally, be aware that methods attached to objects and arrays won’t be replicated with deep cloning. If you need to replicate methods along with objects and arrays, use a third-party library like lodash.

Anand Das

Anand Das

Anand is Co-founder and CTO of Bito. He leads technical strategy and engineering, and is our biggest user! Formerly, Anand was CTO of Eyeota, a data company acquired by Dun & Bradstreet. He is co-founder of PubMatic, where he led the building of an ad exchange system that handles over 1 Trillion bids per day.

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