Helpers for traversing, inspecting, and transforming arbitrary trees.

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tree-walk is a JavaScript library providing useful functions for traversing, inspecting, and transforming arbitrary tree structures. It's based on the walk module that I wrote for Underscore-contrib.


The most basic operation on a tree is to iterate through all its nodes, which is provided by preorder and postorder. They can be used in much the same way as Underscore's 'each' functioneach. For example, take a simple tree:
var tree = {
  'name': { 'first': 'Bucky', 'last': 'Fuller' },
  'occupations': ['designer', 'inventor']
We can do a preorder traversal of the tree:
var walk = require('tree-walk');

walk.preorder(tree, function(value, key, parent) {
  console.log(key + ': ' + value);
which produces the following output:
undefined: [object Object]
name: [object Object]
first: Bucky
last: Fuller
occupations: designer,inventor
0: designer
1: inventor
A preorder traversal visits the nodes in the tree in a top-down fashion: first the root node is visited, then all of its child nodes are recursively visited. postorder does the opposite, calling the visitor function for a node only after visiting all of its child nodes.

Collection Functions

This module provides versions of most of the Underscore collection functions, with some small differences that make them better suited for operating on trees. For example, you can use filter to get a list of all the strings in a tree:
var walk = require('tree-walk');
walk.filter(walk.preorder, _.isString);
Like many other functions in this module, the argument to filter is a function indicating in what order the nodes should be visited. Currently, only preorder and postorder are supported.

Custom Walkers

Sometimes, you have a tree structure that can't be naïvely traversed. A good example of this is a DOM tree: because each element has a reference to its parent, a naïve walk would encounter circular references. To handle such cases, you can create a custom walker by invoking walk as a function, and passing it a function which returns the descendants of a given node. E.g.:
var walk = require('tree-walk');
var domWalker = walk(function(el) {
  return el.children;
The resulting object has the same functions as walk, but parameterized to use the custom walking behavior:
var buttons = domWalker.filter(walk.preorder, function(el) {
  return el.tagName === 'BUTTON';
However, it's not actually necessary to create custom walkers for DOM nodes -- walk handles DOM nodes specially by default.

Parse Trees

A parse tree is tree that represents the syntactic structure of a formal language. For example, the arithmetic expression 1 + (4 + 2) * 7 might have the following parse tree:
var tree = {
  'type': 'Addition',
  'left': { 'type': 'Value', 'value': 1 },
  'right': {
    'type': 'Multiplication',
    'left': {
'type': 'Addition', 'left': { 'type': 'Value', 'value': 4 }, 'right': { 'type': 'Value', 'value': 2 }
'right': { 'type': 'Value', 'value': 7 }
We can create a custom walker for this parse tree:
var walk = require('tree-walk');
var parseTreeWalker = walk(function(node) {
  return _.pick(node, 'left', 'right');
Using the find function, we could find the first occurrence of the addition operator. It uses a pre-order traversal of the tree, so the following code will produce the root node (tree):
parseTreeWalker.find(tree, function(node) {
  return node.type === 'Addition';
We could use the reduce function to evaluate the arithmetic expression represented by the tree. The following code will produce 43:
parseTreeWalker.reduce(tree, function(memo, node) {
  if (node.type === 'Value') return node.value;
  if (node.type === 'Addition') return memo.left + memo.right;
  if (node.type === 'Multiplication') return memo.left * memo.right;
When the visitor function is called on a node, the memo argument contains the results of calling reduce on each of the node's subtrees. To evaluate a node, we just need to add or multiply the results of the left and right subtrees of the node.