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    1.1.1 • Public • Published

    astray CI codecov

    A tiny (1.01 kB) and fast utility to walk an AST without being led astray.


    $ npm install --save astray


    import { parse } from 'meriyah';
    import * as astray from 'astray';
    const AST = parse(`
      const sum = (a, b) => a + b;
      function square(a, b) {
        return a * b;
      function sqrt(num) {
        let value = Math.sqrt(num);
        console.log('square root is:', value);
        return value;
    let ref, STATE = new Map;
    // Walk AST and find `let value` reference
    astray.walk(AST, {
      Identifier(node, state) {
        if ( === 'value') {
          ref = node;
        } else if ( === 'Math') {
          state.set('Math', true);
      FunctionDeclaration: {
        enter(node, state) {
          state.set('Math', false);
        exit(node, state) {
          console.log(`"${}" used Math?`, state.get('Math'));
    }, STATE);
    //=> "square" used Math? false
    //=> "sqrt" used Math? true
    // What does `let value` see?
    const bindings = astray.lookup(ref);
    for (let key in bindings) {
      console.log(`"${key}" ~> `, bindings[key]);
    //=> "value" ~>  { type: 'VariableDeclarator', ... }
    //=> "sqrt" ~>  { type: 'FunctionDeclaration', ... }
    //=> "num" ~>  { type: 'Identifier', ... }
    //=> "sum" ~>  { type: 'VariableDeclarator', ... }
    //=> "square" ~>  { type: 'FunctionDeclaration', ... }


    astray.walk<T, S, M>(node: T, visitor: Visitor<S, M>, state?: S, parent?: any)

    Type: Function
    Returns: Path<T> or T or undefined

    Begin traversing an AST starting with node and using the visitor definition. You may optionally provide a state data object that each of the visitor methods can access and/or manipulate.

    You may also define a parent, if known, for the starting node; however, this will likely be unknown most of the time.

    If node is falsey, then astray.walk returns nothing.
    If node is not an object, then the node itself is returned.
    Otherwise, any other object/array value will be traversed and returned with an added Path context.


    Type: any

    The walker's starting node. Its children will be traversed recursively against the visitor definition.


    Type: Visitor

    The defined behavior for traversal. See Visitors for more.


    Type: any
    Required: false

    Any state data to be shared or manipulated during traversal. When defined, all Visitors will have access to this value.


    Type: any
    Required: false

    The node's parent, if known.

    Note: You will likely never need to define this!
    In fact, astray.walk is recursive and sets/tracks this value as part of each node's Path Context.

    astray.lookup<M, T>(node: T, target?: string)

    Type: Function
    Returns: Record<string, any>

    Find all bindings that are accessible to this node by scaling its ancestry.

    While doing so, each parent context container (eg, BlockStatement, FunctionDeclaration, or Program) is assigned its own cache of available bindings. See Path Context for more.

    A dictionary of scopes are returned for the node. This will be an object whose keys are the identifier names and whose values are references to the nodes that the identifier points to.

    Note: The return object will always include the node itself.


    Type: any

    The starting point — the node that's interested in learning what's available to it.


    Type: string
    Required: false

    An optional target value that, if found, will immediately exit the ancestral lookup.
    This should be the name of an identifier that your node is interested in, or the name of a parent container that you don't wish to exit.


    Type: Boolean

    Any Visitor may return this value to skip traversal of the current node's children.

    Important: Trying to SKIP from an exit() block will have no effect.


    Type: Boolean

    Any Visitor may return this value to remove this node from the tree.

    Important: When the visitor's exit() block returns REMOVE, the node's children have already been walked.
    Otherwise, returning REMOVE from enter() or the named/base block will skip children traversal.


    A "visitor" is a definition of behaviors/actions that should be invoked when a matching node's type is found.

    The visitor keys can be of any (string) value – it's whatever types you expect to see!
    By default, astray assumes you're dealing with the ESTree format (which is why the examples and TypeScript definitions reference ESTree types) but you are certainly not limited to this specification.

    For example, if you want to target any VariableDeclaration nodes, you may do so like this:

    const STATE = {};
    // via method
    astray.walk(tree, {
      VariableDeclaration(node, state) {
        // I entered `VariableDeclaration` node === STATE, true);
    // via enter/exit hooks
    astray.walk(tree, {
      VariableDeclaration: {
        enter(node, state) {
          // I entered `VariableDeclaration` node
 === STATE, true);
        exit(node, state) {
          // I exited `VariableDeclaration` node
 === STATE, true);

    As you can see, the object-variant's enter() block is synonymous with the method-variant. (For simplicity, both formats will be referred to as the "enter" block.) However, an exit may only exist within the object-variant, forcing an existing method-variant to be converted into an enter key. When using the object-variant, the enter and exit keys are both optional – but at least one should exist, of course.

    Regardless of the visitor's format, every method has access to the current node value as its first parameter. This is direct access to the tree's child, so any modification will mutate the value directly. Additionally, if you provided astray.walk() with a state value, that state is also passed to each visitor. This, too, allows you to directly mutate/modify your state object.

    Anything that happens within the "enter" block happens before the node's children are traversed. In other words, you may alter the fate of this node's children. For example, returning the SKIP or REMOVE signals prevent your walker from ever seeing the children.

    Anything that happens within the "exit" block happens after the node's children have been traversed. For example, because state is shared, you can use this opportunity to collect any state values/flags that the children may have provided. Again, since child traversal has already happened, returning the SKIP signal has no effect. Additionally, returning the REMOVE signal still remove the node and its children, but still allows you to know what was there.

    Path Context

    Any objects seen during traversal (astray.walk), even those that had no matching Visitors, receive a new path key. This is known as the "path context" – and will always have a parent key.

    In cases where a node does not have a parent (eg, a Program), then node.path.parent will exist with undefined value.

    When scaling a node's ancestry (astray.lookup), additional keys are added to its parents' contexts:

    • scoped — a dictionary of bindings owned by this node's context;
    • bindings — a dictionary of all bindings accessible by this node, including its own;
    • scanned — a boolean indicating that the bindings dictionary is complete; aka, has seen all parents

    Important: Only parent contexts contain scope information.
    These include BlockStatement, FunctionDeclaration, and Program node types.


    When using astray.lookup(), path contexts may obtain scope/binding information.
    These are records of what each parent container provides (node.path.scoped) as well as what is accessible (node.path.bindings) to this scope level. Additionally, if a node/parent's entire ancestry has been recorded, then node.path.scanned will be true.

    The records of bindings (including astray.lookup's return value) are objects keyed by the identifier names. The keys' values are references to the node that included/defined that identifier. For example, this means that VariableDeclarators will be returned instead of the VariableDeclaration that contained them. You may still access the VariableDeclaration via the VariableDeclarators path context (node.path.parent).

    Here's a simple example:

    import { parse } from 'meriyah';
    import * as astray from 'astray';
    const source = `
      const API = 'https://...';
      function send(url, isGET) {
        console.log('method:', isGET ? 'GET' : 'POST');
        console.log('URL:', API + url);
      function Hello(props) {
        var foobar = props.url || '/hello';
        send(foobar, true)
    let foobar;
    const AST = parse(source);
    // walk & find `var foobar`
    astray.walk(AST, {
      Identifier(node) {
        if ( === 'foobar') {
          foobar = node; // save reference
    // get everything `foobar` can see
    const bindings = astray.lookup(foobar);
    for (let key in bindings) {
      console.log(key, bindings[key].type);
    //=> foobar VariableDeclarator
    //=> Hello FunctionDeclaration
    //=> props Identifier
    //=> API VariableDeclarator
    //=> send FunctionDeclaration


    Running on Node.js v10.13.1

    Load Time

    How long does it take to require the dependency?

    @babel/traverse:  174.038ms
    estree-walker:      0.711ms
    acorn-walk:         1.329ms
    ast-types:         31.591ms
    astray:             0.544ms


    All candidates traverse the pre-parsed AST (ESTree format, unless noted otherwise) of d3.min.js.
    Each candidate must count the Identifier nodes seen as a validation step.

      ✔ @babel/traverse ≠   (41,669 identifiers)
      ✔ estree-walker       (41,669 identifiers)
      ✘ acorn-walk †        (23,340 identifiers)
      ✔ ast-types           (41,669 identifiers)
      ✔ astray              (41,669 identifiers)
      @babel/traverse ≠  x  12.25 ops/sec ± 5.46% (35 runs sampled)
      estree-walker      x 120.87 ops/sec ± 0.86% (79 runs sampled)
      acorn-walk †       x  81.49 ops/sec ± 0.76% (70 runs sampled)
      ast-types          x   4.77 ops/sec ±12.35% (16 runs sampled)
      astray             x 144.27 ops/sec ± 0.89% (81 runs sampled)


    Run $ cat bench/fixtures/estree.json | grep "Identifier" | wc -l to verify the 41,669 figure.

    Babel does not follow the ESTree format. Instead @babel/traverse requires that @babel/parser be used in order for validation to pass.

    Acorn does follow the ESTree format, but acorn-walk still fails to count all identifiers. All exported methods (simple, full, recursive) returned the same value. Results are taken using an acorn AST, although it fails using while traversing the ESTree fixture (estree.json).


    MIT © Luke Edwards


    npm i astray

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