Optional chaining

This is an experimental technology
Check the Browser compatibility table carefully before using this in production.

The optional chaining operator ?. permits reading the value of a property located deep within a chain of connected objects without having to expressly validate that each reference in the chain is valid. The ?. operator functions similarly to the . chaining operator, except that instead of causing an error if a reference is null or undefined, the expression short-circuits with a return value of undefined. When used with function calls, it returns undefined if the given function does not exist.

This results in shorter and simpler expressions when accessing chained properties when the possibility exists that a reference may be missing. It can also be helpful while exploring the content of an object when there's no known guarantee as to which properties are required.

Warning! As of August 2019, no environment natively implements this feature. If you use Babel, you may use this plugin to emulate optional chaining.

{{EmbedInteractiveExample("pages/js/expressions-optionalchainingoperator.html")}}

Syntax

obj?.prop
obj?.[expr]
func?.(args)

Description

The optional chaining operator provides a way to simplify accessing values through connected objects when it's possible that a reference or function may be undefined or null.

For example, consider an object obj which has a nested structure. Without optional chaining, looking up a deeply-nested subproperty requires validating the references in between, such as:

let nestedProp = obj.first && obj.first.second;

The value of obj.first is confirmed to be non-null (and non-undefined) before then accessing the value of obj.first.second. This prevents the error that would occur if you simply accessed obj.first.second directly without testing obj.first.

With the optional chaining operator (?.), however, you don't have to explicitly test and short-circuit based on the state of obj.first before trying to access obj.first.second:

let nestedProp = obj.first?.second;

By using the ?. operator instead of just ., JavaScript knows to implicitly check to be sure obj.first is not null or undefined before attempting to access obj.first.second. If obj.first is null or undefined, the expression automatically short-circuits, returning undefined.

This is equivalent to the following:

let nestedProp = (obj.first == null ? undefined : obj.first.second);

Optional chaining with function calls

You can use optional chaining when attempting to call a method which may not exist. This can be helpful, for example, when using an API in which a method might be unavailable, either due to the age of the implementation or because of a feature which isn't available on the user's device.

Using optional chaining with function calls causes the expression to automatically return undefined instead of throwing an exception if the method isn't found:

let result = someInterface.customMethod?.();

Note: If there is a property with such a name and which is not a function, using ?. will still raise a TypeError exception (x.y is not a function).

Dealing with optional callbacks or event handlers

If you use callbacks or fetch methods from an object with a destructuring assignment, you may have non-existent values that you cannot call as functions unless you have tested their existence. Using ?., you can avoid this extra test:

// Written as of ES2019
function doSomething(onContent, onError) {
  try {
    // ... do something with the data 
  }
  catch (err) {
    if (onError) { // Testing if onError really exists
      onError(err.message);
    }
  }
}
// Using optional chaining with function calls
function doSomething(onContent, onError) {
  try {
   // ... do something with the data
  }
  catch (err) {
    onError?.(err.message); // no exception if onError is undefined
  }
}

Optional chaining with expressions

You can also use the optional chaining operator when accessing properties with an expression using the bracket notation of the property accessor:

let nestedProp = obj?.['prop' + 'Name'];

Examples

Basic example

This example looks for the value of the name property for the member bar in a map when there is no such member. The result is therefore undefined.

let myMap = new Map();
myMap.set("foo", {name: "baz", desc: "inga"});

let nameBar = myMap.get("bar")?.name;

Short-circuiting evaluation

When using optional chaining with expressions, if the left operand is null or undefined, the expression will not be evaluated. For instance:

let potentiallyNullObj = null;
let x = 0;
let prop = potentiallyNullObj?.[x++];

console.log(x); // 0 as x was not incremented

Stacking the optional chaining operator

With nested structures, it is possible to use optional chaining multiple times:

let customer = {
  name: "Carl",
  details: {
    age: 82,
    location: "Paradise Falls" // detailed address is unknown
  }
};
let customerCity = customer.details?.address?.city;

// … this also works with optional chaining function call
let duration = vacations.trip?.getTime?.();

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
Proposal for the "optional chaining" operator Stage 3

Browser compatibility

No compatibility data found. Please contribute data for "javascript.operators.optional_chaining" (depth: 1) to the MDN compatibility data repository.

See also

Document Tags and Contributors

Contributors to this page: milky2028, SphinxKnight, smndhm, Sheppy
Last updated by: milky2028,