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How to Add and Remove Elements from Arrays in JavaScript

How to Add and Remove Elements from Arrays in JavaScript

Arrays are common data structures in JavaScript, and it is important to know how to work with them. Common operations on arrays include adding or removing elements from the beginning, end or at a specific index.

In this article, you will learn how to work with the built in JavaScript methods: pop, push, shift and unshift. You will also learn how to work with the splice method which allows you to mutate the original array and add/remove elements at a specific index.

What is an Array in JavaScript?

Before we start looking at these different array methods, it is important to understand what an array is in JavaScript.

An array is a type of data structure in JavaScript that is used to store a collection of elements that can be of different types. These data types can include strings, numbers, booleans(true or false), other arrays and objects({}).

Here is an example of an array of names:

const names = ["Jessica", "Jacob", "Zach", "Michelle"];

To access an element from an array, you reference the array name, followed by a pair of square brackets containing the index of the element you want to access.

Arrays are zero-indexed, which means the first element in the array has an index of 0, the second element has an index of 1, and so on.

Here is an example of accessing the second element in the names array:

names[1]; // "Jacob"

If you want to access the last element in an array, you can use the length of the array minus 1.

names[names.length - 1]; // "Michelle"

How to Remove an Element at the End of the Array

If you want to remove an element at the end of an array, you can use the pop method. The pop method removes the last element from an array and returns that element.

Here is an example of using the pop method on the names array:

const names = ["Jessica", "Jacob", "Zach", "Michelle"];
const removedName = names.pop();

console.log(removedName); // "Michelle"

If you try to use the pop method on an empty array, it will return undefined.

const emptyArray = [];
const removedElement = emptyArray.pop();

console.log(removedElement); // undefined

If you log out the names array, then you will see the remaining elements.

console.log(names); // ["Jessica", "Jacob", "Zach"]

How to Remove an Element at the Beginning of the Array

If you want to remove an element at the beginning of an array, you can use the shift method. The shift method removes the first element from an array and returns that element.

Here is an example of using the shift method on the names array:

const names = ["Jessica", "Jacob", "Zach", "Michelle"];
const removedName = names.shift();

console.log(removedName); // "Jessica"

Just like the pop method, if you try to use the shift method on an empty array, it will return undefined.

const emptyArray = [];
const removedElement = emptyArray.shift();

console.log(removedElement); // undefined

How to Add an Element at the End of the Array

If you need to add an element to the end of an array, you can use the push method. The push method adds one or more elements to the end of an array and returns the new length of the array.

Here is an example of an array of programming languages:

const programmingLanguages = ["JavaScript", "Python", "Ruby"];

If you want to add the languages of Go and Rust to the end of the programmingLanguages array, you would use the push method.

const programmingLanguages = ["JavaScript", "Python", "Ruby"];
const originalLength = programmingLanguages.length; // 3

const newLength = programmingLanguages.push("Go", "Rust");

console.log(newLength); // 5
console.log(programmingLanguages); // ["JavaScript", "Python", "Ruby", "Go", "Rust"]

A cool thing you can do with the push method is to add an array to the end of another array.

In this example we have an array of programmingLanguages and an array of newLanguages. We can use the push method and spread syntax to add the newLanguages array to the end of the programmingLanguages array.

const programmingLanguages = ["JavaScript", "Python", "Ruby"];
const newLanguages = ["Go", "Rust"];

const newLength = programmingLanguages.push(...newLanguages);

console.log(newLength); // 5
console.log(programmingLanguages); // ["JavaScript", "Python", "Ruby", "Go", "Rust"]

How to Add an Element at the Beginning of the Array

If you want to add an element to the beginning of an array, you can use the unshift method. The unshift method adds one or more elements to the beginning of an array and returns the new length of the array.

Here is an example of using the unshift method to add three new programming languages to the beginning of the programmingLanguages array.

const programmingLanguages = ["JavaScript", "Python", "Ruby"];
const originalLength = programmingLanguages.length; // 3

const newLength = programmingLanguages.unshift("Go", "Rust", "C#");

console.log(newLength); // 6
console.log(programmingLanguages); // ["Go", "Rust", "C#", "JavaScript", "Python", "Ruby"]

How to Add and Remove Elements at a Specific Index

An index is the position of an element in the array. The first element in the array has an index of 0, the second element has an index of 1, and so on.

To add elements at a specific index, you can use the splice method. The splice method allows you to add and remove elements from a specific index in an array.

In this example, we have a list of American cities.

const cities = ["New York", "Los Angeles", "Chicago", "Houston"];

If we want to add the city of San Francisco to the second index of the cities array, we would use the splice method.

const cities = ["New York", "Los Angeles", "Chicago", "Houston"];

cities.splice(1, 0, "San Francisco");

console.log(cities); // ["New York", "San Francisco", "Los Angeles", "Chicago", "Houston"]

The first argument of the splice method is the index where you want to add or remove elements. In this case, we want to add our city at index 1.

The second argument is the number of elements to remove. In this case, we are not looking to remove any elements, so we pass in 0.

The third argument is the element(s) you want to add. This is where we pass in the city of San Francisco.

cities.splice(1, 0, "San Francisco");

If we want to remove elements at a specific index, we can use the splice method as well.

In this example, we want to remove the city of Los Angeles from the cities array. We can use the indexOf method to find the index of Los Angeles and then use the splice method to remove it.

The indexOf method returns the first index at which a given element can be found in the array, or -1 if it is not present.

const cities = ["New York", "Los Angeles", "Chicago", "Houston"];

const index = cities.indexOf("Los Angeles");

if (index !== -1) {
  cities.splice(index, 1);
}

console.log(cities); // ["New York", "Chicago", "Houston"]

The first argument of index is the index where we want to remove the element. The second argument of 1 is the number of elements we want to remove.

cities.splice(index, 1);

We are wrapping this inside an if statement to check if the index of Los Angeles is not equal to -1. -1 represents that the element is not present in the array.

If the city is present in the array, then we can use the splice method to remove it.

if (index !== -1) {
  cities.splice(index, 1);
}

Conclusion

In this article you learned how to work with the built in JavaScript methods of pop, push, shift and unshift. These methods are useful when you want to add or remove elements from the beginning or end of an array.

You also learned how to work with the splice method which allows you to mutate the original array and add/remove elements at a specific index.

All of the methods we covered in this article mutate the original array. This means that the original array is changed after using these methods.

I hope you found this article helpful and happy coding!

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