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Merge objects & other types recursively. A simple & small integration.
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README.md

Merge anything 🥡

npm i merge-anything

Merge objects & other types recursively. A simple & small integration.

Motivation

I created this package because I tried a lot of similar packages that do merging/deepmerging/recursive object assign etc. But all had its quirks, and all of them break things they are not supposed to break... 😞

I was looking for:

  • a simple merge function like Object.assign()
  • supports merging of nested properties
  • supports symbols
  • supports enumerable & nonenumerable props
  • does not break special class instances ‼️

This last one is crucial! In JavaScript almost everything is an object, sure, but I don't want a merge function trying to merge eg. two new Date() instances! So many libraries use custom classes that create objects with special prototypes, and such objects all break when trying to merge them. So we gotta be careful!

merge-anything will merge objects and nested properties, but only as long as they're "plain objects". As soon as a sub-prop is not a "plain object" and has a special prototype, it will copy that instance over "as is". ♻️

Meet the family

Usage

Pass the base param first and then an unlimited amount of params to merge onto it.

import merge from 'merge-anything'

const starter = {name: 'Squirtle', type: 'water'}
const newValues = {name: 'Wartortle', level: 16}

merge(starter, newValues, {is: 'cool'})
// returns {
//   name: 'Wartortle',
//   type: 'water,
//   level: 16,
//   is: 'cool'
// }

Rules

This package will recursively go through plain objects and merge the values onto a new object.

Please note that this package recognises special JavaScript objects like classes. In such cases it will not recursively merge them like objects, but assign the class onto the new object "as is"!

// all passed objects do not get modified
const a = {a: 'a'}
const b = {b: 'b'}
const c = merge(a, b)
// a === {a: 'a'}
// b === {b: 'b'}
// c === {a: 'a', b: 'b'}
// However, be careful with JavaScript object references. See below: A note on JavaScript object references

// arrays get overwritten
// (for "concat" logic, see Extensions below)
merge({array: ['a']}, {array: ['b']}) // returns {array: ['b']}

// empty objects merge into objects
merge({obj: {prop: 'a'}}, {obj: {}}) // returns {obj: {prop: 'a'}}

// but non-objects overwrite objects
merge({obj: {prop: 'a'}}, {obj: null}) // returns {obj: null}
merge({obj: 'a'}, 'b') // returns 'b'

// and empty objects overwrite non-objects
merge({prop: 'a'}, {prop: {}}) // returns {prop: {}}

merge-anything properly keeps special objects intact like dates, regex, functions, class instances etc.

However, it's very important you understand how to work around JavaScript object references. Please be sure to read a note on JavaScript object references down below.

Extensions & custom rules

There might be times you need to tweak the logic when two things are merged, eg. you need arrays to be concatenated instead of overwritten. This is possible through an extension!

To keep the source code as small as possible I opted for an extionsion system where you can import just the logic you need.

Concat arrays extension

import { merge, concatArrays } from 'merge-anything'

merge(
  {extensions: [concatArrays]}, // pass your extensions like so
  {array: ['a']},
  {array: ['b']}
)
// returns {array: ['a', 'b']}

All extensions get triggered at the top level and at every single nested prop. Let's look at two more examples to clarify this:

// top level:
merge(
  {extensions: [concatArrays]},
  ['a'],
  ['b']
)
// returns ['a', 'b']

// nested props:
merge(
  {extensions: [concatArrays]}, // pass your extensions like so
  {nested: {prop: {array: ['a']}}},
  {nested: {prop: {array: ['b']}}},
)
// returns {nested: {prop: {array: ['a', 'b']}}},

Super simple!

Making your own extension / custom rule

The concatArrays extension imported above is actually just a function that takes both values it's trying to merge, and returns a new value. An "extension" function is triggered at the top level and on any nested props that should be merged.

This means that merge-anything can be really powerful because every step of the way you can define rules to extend the overwrite logic. Let's look at the concatArrays function as an example to see how you can write your own custom rules:

You have to define a function that receives two parameters. The first is the original value and the second is the new value that's being merged onto the original. When concatenating arrays, you can simply check if the value is an array or not and concatenate if it is.

function concatArrays (originVal, newVal) {
  if (Array.isArray(originVal) && Array.isArray(newVal)) {
    // concat logic
    return originVal.concat(newVal)
  }
  return newVal // always return newVal as fallback!!
}
merge(
  {extensions: [concatArrays]}, // pass your custom functions like so
  {array: ['a']},
  {array: ['b']}
)
// results in {array: ['a', 'b']}

Please note that each extension-function receives an originVal and newVal and has to return the newVal on fallback no matter what. Otherwise there might be cases that the original value is overwritten with undefined.

A note on JavaScript object references

Be careful for JavaScript object reference. Any property that's nested will be reactive and linked between the original and the merged objects! Down below we'll show how to prevent this.

const original = {airport: {airplane: 'dep. 🛫'}}
const extraInfo = {airport: {location: 'Brussels'}}
const merged = merge(original, extraInfo)

// we change the airplane from departuring 🛫 to landing 🛬
merged.airport.airplane = 'lan. 🛬'
(merged.airport.airplane === 'lan. 🛬') // true
// However, `original` was also modified!
(original.airport.airplane === 'lan. 🛬') // true

The key rule to remember is:

Any property that's nested more than 1 level without an overlapping parent property will be reactive and linked in both the merge result and the source

However, there is a really easy solution. We can just copy the merge result to get rid of any reactivity. For this we can use the copy-anything library. This library also makes sure that special class instances do not break, so you can use it without fear of breaking stuff!

See below how we integrate 'copy-anything':

import copy from 'copy-anything'

const original = {airport: {airplane: 'dep. 🛫'}}
const extraInfo = {airport: {location: 'Brussels'}}
const merged = copy(merge(original, extraInfo))

// we change the airplane from departuring 🛫 to landing 🛬
merged.airport.airplane = 'lan. 🛬'
(merged.airport.airplane === 'lan. 🛬') // true
// `original` won't be modified!
(original.airport.airplane === 'dep. 🛫') // true

You can then play around where you want to place the copy() function.

Source code

It is literally just going through an object recursively and assigning the values to a new object like below. However, it's wrapped to allow extra params etc. The code below is the basic integration, that will make you understand the basics how it works.

import { isPlainObject } from 'is-what'

function mergeRecursively (origin, newComer) {
  if (!isPlainObject(newComer)) return newComer
  // define newObject to merge all values upon
  const newObject = (isPlainObject(origin))
    ? Object.keys(origin)
      .reduce((carry, key) => {
        const targetVal = origin[key]
        if (!Object.keys(newComer).includes(key)) carry[key] = targetVal
        return carry
      }, {})
    : {}
  return Object.keys(newComer)
    .reduce((carry, key) => {
      const newVal = newComer[key]
      const targetVal = origin[key]
      // early return when targetVal === undefined
      if (targetVal === undefined) {
        carry[key] = newVal
        return carry
      }
      // When newVal is an object do the merge recursively
      if (isPlainObject(newVal)) {
        carry[key] = mergeRecursively(targetVal, newVal)
        return carry
      }
      // all the rest
      carry[key] = newVal
      return carry
    }, newObject)
}

* Of course, there are small differences with the actual source code to cope with rare cases & extra features. The actual source code is here.

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