Typing Objects#

Object Types#

Object types allow us to describe the structure of our application's data. When discussing object types, we generally mean one of the following:

  • A type that represents any non-primitive

  • A type that conveys the keys and values of an object

We'll cover both cases, starting with the first, which is achieved using the object (lowercase o) type.

The object type#

When we need a type that is only assignable to non-primitives, we use the built-in object type. Attempting to assign a primitive to an object will produce an error:

object is used when we expect an object whose key/value pairs are irrelevant. Attempting to access a property of an object will produce an error:

A value with type object can still access methods and properties that are available to all JavaScript (and TypeScript) objects, such as toString() and valueOf(), which are inherited from Object.prototype.

When using object as the type of a function's parameter, the function's body and return type should not make any assumptions about the properties of the given object.

A real-world use case for object is a function that returns the number of keys in an object:

Because numKeys's body and return value do not depend on any specific properties of the input object, we use object for our parameter's type to ensure that only non-primitives can be passed to the function. Any primitives passed to numKeys will produce an error:

object, Object, and {}#

Object refers to an interface that defines properties and methods that are shared by all objects, such as valueOf() and toString(). {} refers to the empty object type, which in practice behaves the same as Object as it inherits Object's properties without adding any additional properties. The Object and {} types are misleading as they are assignable to primitives in addition to objects:

const x: Object = 'pizza'; // OKconst y: {} = true; // OK

Whereas the object type produces an error when assigned to primitives:

const z: object = 'apple'; // Error: 'apple' is not assignable to object

For this reason, we prefer object in all instances that require a type that is only assignable to non-primitives.


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