How to Convert a JavaScript NodeList Into an Array?

Learn different ways of converting a NodeList object into an array in JavaScript

Let's suppose we want to select all the li elements from the following list:

<ul id="list">
    <li>foo</li>
    <li>bar</li>
    <li>baz</li>
</ul>

If we were to use querySelectorAll() for selecting all the li elements in the list above, we would get a NodeList object, for example:

const listItems = document.querySelectorAll('li');

console.log(listItems); // output: NodeList(3) [li, li, li]

What Is a NodeList Object?

A DOM NodeList object is not an array, but an "array-like" object that consists of an iterable collection of nodes. In JavaScript, an object is array-like when it:

  • Has indexed access to elements (e.g. listItems[0]);
  • Has the length property which can tell us how many elements the object has (e.g. listItems.length);
  • Does NOT have array methods such as push, forEach, indexOf, etc. because the object is not constructed using Array or []. This means it does not inherit array properties/methods from Array.prototype.

So as you can see, some of the array methods won't work on a NodeList. To work around this, we can simply convert the NodeList object to an array using any of the methods explained in this article.

Convert NodeList to Array Using Array.from()

Array.from() creates a new, shallow-copied Array instance from an array-like or iterable object. Since a NodeList is both, iterable and "array-like", we can use Array.from() to convert a NodeList to an array like so:

// ES6+
const listItems = document.querySelectorAll('li');
const list = Array.from(listItems);

console.log(list); // output: (3) [li, li, li]

The use of Array.from() is not just limited to NodeList objects; it works on any object that is either:

  • Iterable (such as Map, Set, etc.), or;
  • Array-like object (such as DOM NodeList, etc.).

Convert NodeList to Array Using the Spread Operator

The spread operator can be used to make an array out of a NodeList object like so:

// ES6+
const listItems = document.querySelectorAll('li');
const list = [ ...listItems ];

console.log(list); // output: (3) [li, li, li]

It is important to note that converting an object to an array using the spread operator only works on objects that are iterable.

Convert NodeList to Array Using a for Loop

Since a NodeList object is an indexed iterable collection, we can simply iterate over its elements and copy them into a new array like so:

const listItems = document.querySelectorAll('li');
const list = [];

for (let i = 0; i < listItems.length; i++) {
    list[i] = listItems[i];
}

console.log(list); // output: (3) [li, li, li]

The for loop can also be shortened to a one-liner like so:

for (let i = 0; i < listItems.length; list[i] = listItems[i], i++);

The advantage of using a for loop for converting a NodeList to an array is browser compatibility and possibly speed.

Convert NodeList to Array Using Array.prototype.slice()

Calling slice() in the following way returns a new array with all the nodes copied over from the NodeList collection:

const listItems = document.querySelectorAll('li');
const list = Array.prototype.slice.call(listItems);

console.log(list); // output: (3) [li, li, li]

This can be shortened to:

const list = [].slice.call(listItems);

This method is considered a bit hacky, however, it does have good browser support.


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