Generate random string/characters in JavaScript – Dev

The best answers to the question “Generate random string/characters in JavaScript” in the category Dev.

QUESTION:

I want a 5 character string composed of characters picked randomly from the set [a-zA-Z0-9].

What’s the best way to do this with JavaScript?

ANSWER:

//Can change 7 to 2 for longer results.
let r = (Math.random() + 1).toString(36).substring(7);
console.log("random", r);

Note: The above algorithm has the following weaknesses:

  • It will generate anywhere between 0 and 6 characters due to the fact that trailing zeros get removed when stringifying floating points.
  • It depends deeply on the algorithm used to stringify floating point numbers, which is horrifically complex. (See the paper “How to Print Floating-Point Numbers Accurately”.)
  • Math.random() may produce predictable (“random-looking” but not really random) output depending on the implementation. The resulting string is not suitable when you need to guarantee uniqueness or unpredictability.
  • Even if it produced 6 uniformly random, unpredictable characters, you can expect to see a duplicate after generating only about 50,000 strings, due to the birthday paradox. (sqrt(36^6) = 46656)

ANSWER:

I think this will work for you:

function makeid(length) {
    var result="";
    var characters="ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789";
    var charactersLength = characters.length;
    for ( var i = 0; i < length; i++ ) {
      result += characters.charAt(Math.floor(Math.random() * 
 charactersLength));
   }
   return result;
}

console.log(makeid(5));

ANSWER:

Short, easy and reliable

Returns exactly 5 random characters, as opposed to some of the top rated answers found here.

Math.random().toString(36).substr(2, 5);

ANSWER:

Math.random is bad for this kind of thing

Option 1

If you’re able to do this server-side, just use the crypto module –

var crypto = require("crypto");
var id = crypto.randomBytes(20).toString('hex');

// "bb5dc8842ca31d4603d6aa11448d1654"

The resulting string will be twice as long as the random bytes you generate; each byte encoded to hex is 2 characters. 20 bytes will be 40 characters of hex.


Option 2

If you have to do this client-side, perhaps try the uuid module –

var uuid = require("uuid");
var id = uuid.v4();

// "110ec58a-a0f2-4ac4-8393-c866d813b8d1"

Option 3

If you have to do this client-side and you don’t have to support old browsers, you can do it without dependencies –

// dec2hex :: Integer -> String
// i.e. 0-255 -> '00'-'ff'
function dec2hex (dec) {
  return dec.toString(16).padStart(2, "0")
}

// generateId :: Integer -> String
function generateId (len) {
  var arr = new Uint8Array((len || 40) / 2)
  window.crypto.getRandomValues(arr)
  return Array.from(arr, dec2hex).join('')
}

console.log(generateId())
// "82defcf324571e70b0521d79cce2bf3fffccd69"

console.log(generateId(20))
// "c1a050a4cd1556948d41"

For more information on crypto.getRandomValues

The crypto.getRandomValues() method lets you get cryptographically strong random values. The array given as the parameter is filled with random numbers (random in its cryptographic meaning).

Here’s a little console example –

> var arr = new Uint8Array(4) # make array of 4 bytes (values 0-255)
> arr
Uint8Array(4) [ 0, 0, 0, 0 ]

> window.crypto
Crypto { subtle: SubtleCrypto }

> window.crypto.getRandomValues()
TypeError: Crypto.getRandomValues requires at least 1 argument, but only 0 were passed

> window.crypto.getRandomValues(arr)
Uint8Array(4) [ 235, 229, 94, 228 ]

For IE11 support you can use –

(window.crypto || window.msCrypto).getRandomValues(arr)

For browser coverage see https://caniuse.com/#feat=getrandomvalues