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Egal.js provides an egal function that tests strict equality (like ===), but adds support for built-in and custom value objects in a type-safe way. It also has a deepEgal function for comparing plain objects and arrays recursively or deeply without giving up on type-safeness on the way. It also handles circular references.


When and why to use egal over the triple-equals === operator?

  • When you need to compare the semantic equivalence of value objects without requiring the same object identity.
    JavaScript's == and === consider two different Date or RegExp objects unequal, even if they mean the same thing.
  • When you need to compare custom value objects in a type-safe way.
    Value objects are objects that have a valueOf function. Egal.js makes sure the two objects with valueOf are actually from the same constructor.
  • When you need to compare objects or arrays recursively, Egal.js has deepEgal.


A primivitive and its boxed object equivalent are considered different. Allowing unexpected boxed objects (e.g. new Boolean(false)) through is risky as they're extremely error prone (just think of !!new Boolean(false) returning true). Comparing two boxed objects of the same value, on the other hand, will work.


Non-value objects, like Array or Object, are compared by egal as === does it — based on object identity. For recursive or deep comparison, see deepEgal.


NaNs (not-a-number) are not equal (matching how === behaves). This is because when you compare results of two mathematical operations that may both end up as NaN, you might inadvertently assume the calculations went fine. If you expect NaN, you can use JavaScript's built-in isNaN to test for that.


Negative and positive zeros are equal (also matching how === behaves). You might end up with unexpected negative zeros via various calculations and when you don't need to distinguish between the two, you'll end up with too many false negatives. If you need to handle negative zeros differently, see the article on Sameness in JavaScript.

Value Objects

Value objects can also return compound values. That is, you need not return a single primitive value from valueOf, but merely a more primitive one. Those values are compared with deepEgal.

function Point(x, y) { this.x = x; this.y = y }
Point.prototype.valueOf = function() { return [this.x, this.y] }
egal(new Point(42, 69), new Point(42, 69)) // => true
egal(new Point(42, 69), new Point(13, 42)) // => false


Installing on Node.js

npm install egal

Installing for the browser

Egal.js doesn't yet have a build ready for the browser, but you might be able to use Browserify to have it run there till then.


Require Egal.js:

var egal = require("egal")

Then proceed with comparions:

egal(42, 42) // => true
egal(new String("Hello!"), "Hello") // => true
egal(new Date(2000, 5, 18), new Date(2000, 5, 18)) // => true
egal(/abc/i, /abc/i) // => true

Value Objects

To make and compare custom value objects, create a new constructor and give its prototype a valueOf function:

function Song(name) { = name }
Song.prototype.valueOf = function() { return }
egal(new Song("Play Guitar"), new Song("Play Guitar")) // => true
egal(new Song("Play Guitar"), new Song("Crumblin' Down")) // => false

Egal.js makes sure the two instances are from the same constructor before comparing their valueOf outputs:

function Song(name) { = name }
Song.prototype.valueOf = function() { return }
function Car(name) { = name }
Car.prototype.valueOf = function() { return }
egal(new Song("KITT"), new Car("KITT")) // => false

Objects that are instances of a class (their constructor property set to something other than Object) but lack a valueOf function, thereby not being value objects, are compared by reference (===).

Deep Comparison

As of v1.1.0, Egal.js comes with a recursive or deep comparison function named deepEgal. It was mostly extracted from the Must.js testing library's eql function.

var deepEgal = require("egal").deepEgal
function Model(name) { = name }
deepEgal(42, 42) // => true
deepEgal({name: "John"}, {name: "John"}) // => true
deepEgal({stats: {age: 13}}, {{stats: age: 13}}) // => true
deepEgal([1, 2, 3], [1, 2, 3]) // => true
deepEgal(new Model("John"), new Model("John")) // => false
deepEgal(new Date(2000, 5), new Date(2000, 5)) // => true

The deepEgal function compares regular primitive values, model instances and value objects just like egal.

Plain objects (those with no custom constructor property in their prototype), are compared recursively by their enumerable properties. Arrays are compared recursively by their contents (iterating over length). See above about value objects for more details on plain, instances and value objects.


Egal.js is released under a Lesser GNU Affero General Public License, which in summary means:

  • You can use this program for no cost.
  • You can use this program for both personal and commercial reasons.
  • You do not have to share your own program's code which uses this program.
  • You have to share modifications (e.g bug-fixes) you've made to this program.

For more convoluted language, see the LICENSE file.


Andri Möll typed this and the code.
Monday Calendar supported the engineering work.

If you find Egal.js needs improving, please don't hesitate to type to me now at or create an issue online.

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