How to serialize a form into an object (with tree structure)?

I have a form

    <input type="text" name="Name" />
    <input type="checkbox" name="Feature.Translate" />
    <input type="checkbox" name="Feature.Share" />

    <input type="submit" value="Convert into an object" />

I want to convert it in an object

    Name: "John Connor's Terminator",
        Translate: true // if checked
        // Share wasn't checked

How can I map the form to an object that has this tree structure?



Add this method to help you build the tree

// add keys to an object as a tree
// ["a", "b", "c"] will generate
// a { b: { c: def } }
// def is the value of the leaf node
var AddToTree = function(obj, keys, def)
    for (var i = 0, length = keys.length; i < length; ++i)
        obj = obj[keys[i]] = i == length - 1 ? def : obj[keys[i]] || {};

Create a function for a jQuery selector that will convert the form in an object

$.fn.serializeObject = function()
   var o = {}; // final object
   var a = this.serializeArray(); // retrieves an array of all form values as
                                  // objects { name: "", value: "" }

   $.each(a, function() {
       var ns ="."); // split name to get namespace
       AddToTree(o, ns, this.value); // creates a tree structure
                                     // with values in the namespace

   return o;

With these two functions define you can set an event on the submit button:

    // contains the object from the form
    // respecting element namespaces
    var obj = $("form").serializeObject();

Something like the following should work:

function serializeData() {
    //this is where we'll store our serialized data
    var serializedData = {};

    //iterate over input, select, and textarea elements
    jQuery("input, select, textarea").each(function(index) {
       var $element = jQuery(this);
       var name = $element.attr("name");

       //we only want to serialize the element if it has a 'name' attribute
       if(typeof name != "undefined") {

          //split on the . to get an array
          var parts = name.split(/\./);

          //start building the serialized data
          var currentPart = serializedData;
          for(var i = 0; i < parts.length; i++) {

              //if this particular element doesn't already exist in our hash, create it
              //and initialize it to an empty hash
              if(typeof serializedData[parts[i]] == "undefined") {
                  currentPart[parts[i]] = {};

              //if we're currently looking at the very last element in the array then
              //it means that we need to set its value to the value of the corresponding
              //input element. Otherwise, it means that there are still keys within the
              //array and so we set `currentPart` to the new hash that we just created
              if(i == parts.length - 1) {

                  //if the element is a checkbox or a radio, we need to see if it's checked
                  //instead of looking at its value
                  if($element.attr("type").toLowerCase() == "checkbox" || $element.attr("type").toLowerCase() == "radio") {
                      currentPart[parts[i]] = $":checked");

                  else {
                     currentPart[parts[i]] = $element.val();

              else {            
                  currentPart = currentPart[parts[i]];


Check out the fiddle.

All you need to do now is to bind serializeData to the submit event on the form.


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