Farzad Yousefzadeh
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Simple serializable maps and sets in JavaScript

March 9, 2023
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JavaScript Map and Set data structures are not serializable by default. It means they can not be converted to JSON by using JSON.stringify on them out of the box.

If we take a look at a simple example:

const map = new Map();
map.set("foo", "bar");

// => {}

Despite the fact that map is not an empty object, it is serialized to an empty object.

However, serializing maps by extending their built-in class can be done by a few lines of code.


class SerializableMap extends Map {
  toJSON() {
    return Object.fromEntries(this);

Now, we can use SerializableMap instead of Map and it will be serialized to JSON.

const map = new SerializableMap();
map.set("foo", "bar");

// => {"foo":"bar"}


Similar issue is present on Sets. We can take the same approach and make sets serializable as well.

class SerializableSet extends Set {
  toJSON() {
    return Array.from(this);

And an example would be:

const set = new SerializableSet();

// => ["foo","bar"]


The above approach works as long as we use SerializableMap and SerializableSet instead of Map and Set. Some might take it to the next level and globally replace Map and Set with their respective serializable classes so every new Map() or new Set() automatically becomes serializable.

Map = SerializableMap;
Set = SerializableSet;

Monkey patching standard data structures isn't generally a good idea for the reasons you can look up on the web, but addition only overrides such as toJSON on top of the built-in toJSON that is simply a no-op looks truly harmless.

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