ES6 Spread & Rest Operators


The spread syntax “spreads” out a variable into multiple arguments, based on the context.

Let’s say you have an array. Let’s say you want to add some stuff to that array.

const lessArray = [1, 2, 3]

const moarArray = [...lessArray, 4, 5, 6]

What does moarArray give you in the console?


Remember .apply()? No? Me either. Let’s revisit.

function introduceYourself(name, homeTown, favFood) {
  console.log("Hello! My name is " + name + ", I'm from " + homeTown + " and my favorite food is " + favFood + '!');

var args = ['Brenna', 'Minneapolis', 'lutefisk'];
introduceYourself.apply(null, args);
// => "Hello! My name is Brenna, I'm from Minneapolis and my favorite food is lutefisk!"

This feels weird for a couple different reasons.

  1. One, It feels weird to pass an array as an argument when it just looks like a single variable.
  2. Two, you are required to pass this as the first argument. Sometimes you don’t care what this is in which case you must pass null in its place… nobody likes to write null.

With ES6, we can refactor the above function like so:

const introduceYourself = (name, homeTown, favFood) => {
  console.log(`Hello! My name is ${name}, I'm from ${homeTown} and my favorite food is ${favFood}!`);

const args = ['Brenna', 'Minneapolis', 'lutefisk'];


Note that spread operator can act as the entire set of arguments, or as a subset of arguments. In the above example, I could also have written:

const args = ['Los Angeles', 'Men']
introduceYourself('Cher', ...args)

Your Turn!

Use the spread operator and the concepts mentioned above to produce the following output given the provided information:

var upcomingHolidayAdvice = (day, month, holiday, gift, location) => {
  console.log(`Today is ${day}, in the month of ${month}. Pretty soon, it will be ${holiday}. The gift of ${gift} is SO 2016. I'd suggest going to ${location}.`)

var dates = ['Wednesday', 'February']
var stuff = ['flowers', 'Paris']

// => "Today is Wednesday, in the month of February. Pretty soon, it will be Valentine's Day. Flowers are SO 2016. I'd suggest going to Paris."

Making A Copy

Using the spread operator allows us to access all existing elements of a previously referenced array without modifying it. We are essentially making a COPY of a thing, and then doing whatever we want with it. It’s like a snazzy way to concat. (Hence why it’s so useful when updating state in React and Redux).

Let’s say you have the following arrays:

var days = ['Monday', 'Tuesday', 'Wednesday']
var moreDays = [...days]

After each of the next examples, console log days and moreDays. What happens when you run the following:

  • moreDays.push('Thursday')

  • moreDays.concat(['Friday, Saturday'])

  • [...moreDays, 'Thursday', 'Friday', 'Saturday']

Based on the above examples, what is a conclusion we can draw from using the Spread operator?

Refactoring “.push()”

Previously, using only push() we’d combine two arrays like this:

var things = ['pineapple', 'apple', 'pen']
var colors = ['orange', 'yellow', 'purple']

Array.prototype.push.apply(things, colors);

Try refactoring the above code to eliminate the Array.prototype syntax.


Rest arguments COLLAPSE all remaining arguments of a function into a single array.

Before ES6, in order to grab a bunch of arguments and do something with them you’d have to do something like this:

function stringStuffTogether() {
  return' ');

stringStuffTogether('What', 'the', 'fudge', 'are', 'we', 'doing', '?')
// => 'What the fudge are we doing?'  

Hmm..that seems weird. Why can’t we just write return arguments.join(' ')?

First of all, what is arguments?

What does '.join()' need to manipulate?

We’re not animals. Using ES6, pop in Rest Parameters to simplify our lives.

function stringStuffTogether(...whateverTheArgsAre) {
  return whateverTheArgsAre.join(' ');

stringStuffTogether('this', 'is', 'so', 'much', 'cleaner', 'WOOT!!!')

In review, what’s really the difference here? It seems like both of them have three dots and make an array of things into an array of things. This blog post (also listed next to other cool resources below) said it best:

The REST OPERATOR is used to get the arguments list passed to a function. The SPREAD OPERATOR is used for array construction and destructuring.