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Model Kit: Objects & Arrays

Paul Stefko
Mar 29, 2022
An introduction to objects and arrays, ways to collect and model your data in JavaScript.
📕 3 min.

An important concept in programming is how you organize and collect data. JavaScript gives two main structures: objects and arrays. Each presents tools for accessing and manipulating that data.


In theory, almost everything in JavaScript is an object, even the basic strings and numbers you store in variables. An object represents a collection of data and has two important features for manipulating that data: properties and methods. Every object has a name, like a variable does, and you reference the object by that name.

A property is like a variable that is bundled in the object. It has its own name and value, with some properties being read-only and others able to be reassigned. To access an object's properties, you use a "dot" notation. That is, you start with the object name, then a dot ., then the name of the property.

let objectProperty =;

Some properties are themselves objects, with their own properties and methods. You can chain property objects together with dot notation, digging deeper and deeper with each dot.

let subProperty =;

Where a property is like a variable, a method is like a function. You use the same dot notation to call an object's method, and you may pass the method parameters inside parentheses. Methods may return a value as well.

let methodReturn = object.method(param1, param2);

In most cases, you can create a new object using the new keyword and assign it to a variable name. This keyword calls the constructor method of the object type. For some objects, including the basic data types we talked about last time, you can use a shorthand of just the value. This is called a "literal constructor." In the following code, both lines create a new string:

let strA = new String("String A"); 
let strB = "String B";

JavaScript presents all sorts of objects, and they all have different properties and methods defined for them. Learning them is the bulk of learning JavaScript. For now, though, just understand the basics here, and we'll describe specific objects in later posts.


An array is an ordered collection of other objects or values. Think of an array as a row of filing cabinets, with each one containing one element. Each element in an array has an index, a number that refers to its place in the array. You reference an element with the name of the array followed by the element's index in square brackets []. Array indexes start at 0 and count up.

let element1 = arr[0]; // first element of array

An array is an object, so you can create it using new Array(). You can also create an array using a literal constructor by just assigning a list of values inside square brackets to a variable name. In the following code, both lines create identical arrays:

let arrA = new Array(1,2,3);
let arrB = [1,2,3];

One of the most important properties of an array is the length property. This holds the number of elements in the array, and it changes whenever an element is added or removed.

As an object, every array also has a number of default methods. You can add an element to the end of an array with the push() method, for example. Some of the methods of an array allow for very powerful data manipulation tricks, but that's a topic for the future.


Okay. Now we have a basic grounding in objects and arrays. Next time, we'll look at how JavaScript interacts with your HTML page using something called the "document object model" or DOM.