Object.prototype.toSource()

Non-standard
This feature is non-standard and is not on a standards track. Do not use it on production sites facing the Web: it will not work for every user. There may also be large incompatibilities between implementations and the behavior may change in the future.

Summary

The toSource() method returns a string representing the source code of the object.

Syntax

Object.toSource();
obj.toSource();

Parameters

None.

Description

The toSource method returns the following values:

  • For the built-in Object object, toSource returns the following string indicating that the source code is not available:
function Object() {
   [native code]
}
  • For instances of Object, toSource returns a string representing the source code.

You can call toSource while debugging to examine the contents of an object.

Overriding the toSource method

It is safe for objects to override the toSource method. For example:

function Person(name) {
    this.name = name;
}

Person.prototype.toSource = function Person_toSource() {
    return "new Person(" + uneval(this.name) + ")";
};

alert(new Person("Joe").toSource()); // ---> new Person("Joe")

Built-in toSource methods

Each core JavaScript type has its own toSource method. These objects are:

Limitations on cyclical objects

In the case of objects that contain references to themselves, e.g. a cyclically linked list or a tree that can be traversed both ways, toSource will not recreate the self-reference, as of Firefox 24. For example:

var obj1 = {};
var obj2 = {a: obj1};
obj1.b = obj2;

alert("Cyclical: "+(obj1.b.a==obj1));

var objSource = obj1.toSource(); // returns "({b:{a:{}}})"

obj1 = eval(objSource);

alert("Cyclical: "+obj1.b.a==obj1));

If a cyclical structure is employed and toSource is needed, the object must provide an override to toSource, either using a reference to a constructor or providing an anonymous function.

Examples

Example: Using toSource

The following code defines the Dog object type and creates theDog, an object of type Dog:

function Dog(name, breed, color, sex) {
   this.name = name;
   this.breed = breed;
   this.color = color;
   this.sex = sex;
}

theDog = new Dog("Gabby", "Lab", "chocolate", "girl");

Calling the toSource method of theDog displays the JavaScript source that defines the object:

theDog.toSource();

returns

({name:"Gabby", breed:"Lab", color:"chocolate", sex:"girl"})

Specifications

Not part of any standard. Implemented in JavaScript 1.3.

Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari
Basic support ? (Yes) ? ? ?
Feature Android Chrome for Android Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Mobile Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Basic support ? ? (Yes) ? ? ?

See also

Document Tags and Contributors

Last updated by: fscholz,