How to execute a JavaScript function when I have its name as a string?

Query:

I have the name of a function in JavaScript as a string. How do I convert that into a function pointer so I can call it later?

Depending on the circumstances, I may need to pass various arguments into the method too.

Some of the functions may take the form of namespace.namespace.function(args[...]).

How to execute a JavaScript function when I have its name as a string?

Don’t use eval unless you absolutely, positively have no other choice.

As has been mentioned, using something like this would be the best way to do it:

window["functionName"](arguments);

That, however, will not work with a namespace’d function:

window["My.Namespace.functionName"](arguments); // fail

This is how you would do that:

window["My"]["Namespace"]["functionName"](arguments); // succeeds

In order to make that easier and provide some flexibility, here is a convenience function:

function executeFunctionByName(functionName, context /*, args */) {
  var args = Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments, 2);
  var namespaces = functionName.split(".");
  var func = namespaces.pop();
  for(var i = 0; i < namespaces.length; i++) {
    context = context[namespaces[i]];
  }
  return context[func].apply(context, args);
}

You would call it like so:

executeFunctionByName("My.Namespace.functionName", window, arguments);

Note, you can pass in whatever context you want, so this would do the same as above:

executeFunctionByName("Namespace.functionName", My, arguments);

Answer #2:

First, I have simplified the first statement by supplying a second parameter to slice(). The original version was working fine in all browsers except IE.

Second, I have replaced this with context in the return statement; otherwise, this was always pointing to window when the target function was being executed.

function executeFunctionByName(functionName, context /*, args */) {
    var args = Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments, 2);
    var namespaces = functionName.split(".");
    var func = namespaces.pop();
    for (var i = 0; i < namespaces.length; i++) {
        context = context[namespaces[i]];
    }
    return context[func].apply(context, args);
}

Answer #3:

I think an elegant way of doing this is by defining your functions in a hash object. Then you can have a reference to those functions from the hash using the string. e.g.

var customObject = {
  customFunction: function(param){...}
};

Then you can call:

customObject['customFunction'](param);

Where customFunction will be a string matching a function defined in your object.

UPDATE

It seems that this answer was helpful for many fellow coders out there so here goes an updated version.

With ES6 you can additionally use Computed Property Names which will allow you to avoid magic strings.

const FunctionNames = Object.freeze({ 
  FirstFunction: "firstFunction", 
  SecondFunction: "secondFunction" 
});

...

var customObject = {
  [FunctionNames.FirstFunction]: function(param){...},
  [FunctionNames.SecondFunction]: function(param){...}
};

...

customObject[FunctionNames.FirstFunction](param);

Answer #4:

Could you not just do this:

var codeToExecute = "My.Namespace.functionName()";
var tmpFunc = new Function(codeToExecute);
tmpFunc();

You can also execute any other JavaScript using this method.

With ES6 you could to access class methods by name:

class X {
  method1(){
    console.log("1");
  }
  method2(){
    this['method1']();
    console.log("2");
  }
}
let x  = new X();
x['method2']();

the output would be:

1
2

Two things:

  • avoid eval, it’s terribly dangerous and slow
  • secondly it doesn’t matter where your function exists, “global” -ness is irrelevant. x.y.foo() can be enabled through x.y['foo']() or x['y']['foo']() or even window['x']['y']['foo'](). You can chain indefinitely like this.

All the answers assume that the functions can be accessed through global scope (window). However, the OP did not make this assumption.

If the functions live in a local scope (aka closure) and are not referenced by some other local object, bad luck: You have to use eval() AFAIK.

Answer #5:

Depending on where you are you can also use:

this["funcname"]();
self["funcname"]();
window["funcname"]();
top["funcname"]();
globalThis["funcname"]();

or, in nodejs

global["funcname"]()

You just need convert your string to a pointer by window[<method name>]. example:

var function_name = "string";
function_name = window[function_name];

and now you can use it like a pointer.

Answer #7:

Here is my contribution to the first and second excellent answers..

Given this (contrived) preamble:

a = function( args ) {
    console.log( 'global func passed:' );
    for( var i = 0; i < arguments.length; i++ ) {
        console.log( '-> ' + arguments[ i ] );
    }
};
ns = {};
ns.a = function( args ) {
    console.log( 'namespace func passed:' );
    for( var i = 0; i < arguments.length; i++ ) {
        console.log( '-> ' + arguments[ i ] ); 
    }
};
name = 'nsa';
n_s_a = [ 'Snowden' ];
noSuchAgency = function(){};

then the following function:

function executeFunctionByName( functionName, context /*, args */ ) {
    var args, namespaces, func;

    if( typeof functionName === 'undefined' ) { throw 'function name not specified'; }

    if( typeof eval( functionName ) !== 'function' ) { throw functionName + ' is not a function'; }

    if( typeof context !== 'undefined' ) { 
        if( typeof context === 'object' && context instanceof Array === false ) { 
            if( typeof context[ functionName ] !== 'function' ) {
                throw context + '.' + functionName + ' is not a function';
            }
            args = Array.prototype.slice.call( arguments, 2 );

        } else {
            args = Array.prototype.slice.call( arguments, 1 );
            context = window;
        }

    } else {
        context = window;
    }

    namespaces = functionName.split( "." );
    func = namespaces.pop();

    for( var i = 0; i < namespaces.length; i++ ) {
        context = context[ namespaces[ i ] ];
    }

    return context[ func ].apply( context, args );
}

will allow you to call a javascript function by name stored in a string, either namespaced or global, with or without arguments (including Array objects), providing feedback on any errors encountered (hopefully catching them).

The sample output shows how it works:

// calling a global function without parms
executeFunctionByName( 'a' );
  /* OUTPUT:
  global func passed:
  */

// calling a global function passing a number (with implicit window context)
executeFunctionByName( 'a', 123 );
  /* OUTPUT:
  global func passed:
  -> 123
  */

// calling a namespaced function without parms
executeFunctionByName( 'ns.a' );
  /* OUTPUT:
  namespace func passed:
  */

// calling a namespaced function passing a string literal
executeFunctionByName( 'ns.a', 'No Such Agency!' );
  /* OUTPUT:
  namespace func passed:
  -> No Such Agency!
  */

// calling a namespaced function, with explicit context as separate arg, passing a string literal and array 
executeFunctionByName( 'a', ns, 'No Such Agency!', [ 007, 'is the man' ] );
  /* OUTPUT:
  namespace func passed:
  -> No Such Agency!
  -> 7,is the man
  */

// calling a global function passing a string variable (with implicit window context)
executeFunctionByName( 'a', name );
  /* OUTPUT:
  global func passed:
  -> nsa
  */

// calling a non-existing function via string literal
executeFunctionByName( 'n_s_a' );
  /* OUTPUT:
  Uncaught n_s_a is not a function
  */

// calling a non-existing function by string variable
executeFunctionByName( n_s_a );
  /* OUTPUT:
  Uncaught Snowden is not a function
  */

// calling an existing function with the wrong namespace reference
executeFunctionByName( 'a', {} );
  /* OUTPUT:
  Uncaught [object Object].a is not a function
  */

// calling no function
executeFunctionByName();
  /* OUTPUT:
  Uncaught function name not specified
  */

// calling by empty string
executeFunctionByName( '' );
  /* OUTPUT:
  Uncaught  is not a function
  */

// calling an existing global function with a namespace reference
executeFunctionByName( 'noSuchAgency', ns );
  /* OUTPUT:
  Uncaught [object Object].noSuchAgency is not a function
  */

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