Testing Array Contents with Array#every

Originally published in the A Drip of JavaScript newsletter.

We've talked before about how common it is to test the contents of an array to figure out what to do next, and how Array's some method will let us test whether some elements meet our criteria. But sometimes we need to make sure that every element in an array meets certain criteria.

Here is an example of the pattern at work:

var heroes = [
    { name: "Superman",     universe: "DC"     },
    { name: "Batman",       universe: "DC"     },
    { name: "Spider-Man",   universe: "Marvel" },
    { name: "Wonder Woman", universe: "DC"     }

// Default to true
var areAllDC = true;

for (var i = 0; i < heroes.length && areAllDC; i++) {
    if (heroes[i].universe !== "DC") {
        areAllDC = false;

// Outputs: false

We iterate over the array with a for loop, but with an extra check on areAllDC to halt iteration as soon as we've determined that there is a non-matching element.

So, that's the "classical" looping approach. Fortunately, JavaScript also gives us a very nice built-in function to do this work for us. And we can do so without having to constantly write loops and keep track of extraneous variables and code.

The every function is available on all arrays, and we can use it like this:

function isDC(element) {
    return (element.universe === "DC");

// Outputs: false

var villains = [
    { name: "Brainiac", universe: "DC" },
    { name: "Sinestro", universe: "DC" },
    { name: "Darkseid", universe: "DC" },
    { name: "Joker",    universe: "DC" }

// Outputs: true

The callback will continue to be executed on each element until it returns a falsy value (false, undefined, etc.) or it reaches the end of the array. If it reaches the end without returning a falsy value, then every will return true.

The callback function also has access to two other parameters: the current index, and the array as a whole. You can use them to evaluate the current element in the context of the entire array.

For example:

function isSameUniverse(el, index, arr) {
    // The first element doesn't have a predecessor,
    // so don't evaluate it.
    if (index === 0) {
        return true;
    } else {
        // Do the universe properties of
        // current and previous elements match?
        return (el.universe === arr[index - 1].universe);

// Outputs: false

// Outputs: true

Because every is part of the ES5 specification, it isn't available in IE8 and below. But if you want to use it in older browsers, you can use Underscore, Lo-Dash, or an ES5 shim to make it available.

Thanks for reading!

Josh Clanton

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