How to split a string into chunks of a particular byte size?

Issue

I am interacting with an api that accepts strings that are a maximum 5KB in size.

I want to take a string that may be more than 5KB and break it into chunks less than 5KB in size.

I then intend to pass each smaller-than-5kb-string to the api endpoint, and perform further actions when all requests have finished, probably using something like:

await Promise.all([get_thing_from_api(string_1), get_thing_from_api(string_2), get_thing_from_api(string_3)])

I have read that characters in a string can be between 1 – 4 bytes.

For this reason, to calculate string length in bytes we can use:

// in Node, string is UTF-8    
Buffer.byteLength("here is some text"); 

// in Javascript  
new Blob(["here is some text"]).size

Source:
https://stackoverflow.com/a/56026151
https://stackoverflow.com/a/52254083

My searches for "how to split strings into chunks of a certain size" return results that relate to splitting a string into strings of a particular character length, not byte length, eg:

var my_string = "1234 5 678905";

console.log(my_string.match(/.{1,2}/g));
// ["12", "34", " 5", " 6", "78", "90", "5"]

Source:
https://stackoverflow.com/a/7033662
https://stackoverflow.com/a/6259543
https://gist.github.com/hendriklammers/5231994

Question

Is there a way to split a string into strings of a particular byte length?

I could either:

  • assume that strings will only contain 1 byte per character
  • allow for the ‘worst case scenario’ that each character is 4 bytes

but would prefer a more accurate solution.

I would be interested to know of both Node and plain JavaScript solutions, if they exist.

EDIT

This approach to calculating byteLength might be helpful – by iterating over characters in a string, getting their character code and incrementing byteLength accordingly:

function byteLength(str) {
  // returns the byte length of an utf8 string
  var s = str.length;
  for (var i=str.length-1; i>=0; i--) {
    var code = str.charCodeAt(i);
    if (code > 0x7f && code <= 0x7ff) s++;
    else if (code > 0x7ff && code <= 0xffff) s+=2;
    if (code >= 0xDC00 && code <= 0xDFFF) i--; //trail surrogate
  }
  return s;
}

Source: https://stackoverflow.com/a/23329386

which led me to interesting experiments into the underlying data structures of Buffer:

var buf = Buffer.from('Hey! ф');
// <Buffer 48 65 79 21 20 d1 84>  
buf.length // 7
buf.toString().charCodeAt(0) // 72
buf.toString().charCodeAt(5) // 1092  
buf.toString().charCodeAt(6) // NaN    
buf[0] // 72
for (let i = 0; i < buf.length; i++) {
  console.log(buf[i]);
}
// 72 101 121 33 32 209 132 undefined
buf.slice(0,5).toString() // 'Hey! '
buf.slice(0,6).toString() // 'Hey! �'
buf.slice(0,7).toString() // 'Hey! ф'

but as @trincot pointed out in the comments, what is the correct way to handle multibyte characters? And how could I ensure chunks were split on spaces (so as not to ‘break apart’ a word?)

More info on Buffer: https://nodejs.org/api/buffer.html#buffer_buffer

EDIT

In case it helps anyone else understand the brilliant logic in the accepted answer, the snippet below is a heavily commented version I made so I could understand it better.

/**
 * Takes a string and returns an array of substrings that are smaller than maxBytes.  
 *
 * This is an overly commented version of the non-generator version of the accepted answer, 
 * in case it helps anyone understand its (brilliant) logic.  
 *
 * Both plain js and node variations are shown below - simply un/comment out your preference  
 * 
 * @param  {string} s - the string to be chunked  
 * @param  {maxBytes} maxBytes - the maximum size of a chunk, in bytes   
 * @return {arrray} - an array of strings less than maxBytes (except in extreme edge cases)    
 */
function chunk(s, maxBytes) {
  // for plain js  
  const decoder = new TextDecoder("utf-8");
  let buf = new TextEncoder("utf-8").encode(s);
  // for node
  // let buf = Buffer.from(s);
  const result = [];
  var counter = 0;
  while (buf.length) {
    console.log("=============== BEG LOOP " + counter + " ===============");
    console.log("result is now:");
    console.log(result);
    console.log("buf is now:");
    // for plain js
    console.log(decoder.decode(buf));
    // for node  
    // console.log(buf.toString());
    /* get index of the last space character in the first chunk, 
    searching backwards from the maxBytes + 1 index */
    let i = buf.lastIndexOf(32, maxBytes + 1);
    console.log("i is: " + i);
    /* if no space is found in the first chunk,
    get index of the first space character in the whole string,
    searching forwards from 0 - in edge cases where characters
    between spaces exceeds maxBytes, eg chunk("123456789x 1", 9),
    the chunk will exceed maxBytes */
    if (i < 0) i = buf.indexOf(32, maxBytes);
    console.log("at first condition, i is: " + i);
    /* if there's no space at all, take the whole string,
    again an edge case like chunk("123456789x", 9) will exceed maxBytes*/
    if (i < 0) i = buf.length;
    console.log("at second condition, i is: " + i);
    // this is a safe cut-off point; never half-way a multi-byte
    // because the index is always the index of a space    
    console.log("pushing buf.slice from 0 to " + i + " into result array");
    // for plain js
    result.push(decoder.decode(buf.slice(0, i)));
    // for node
    // result.push(buf.slice(0, i).toString());
    console.log("buf.slicing with value: " + (i + 1));
    // slice the string from the index + 1 forwards  
    // it won't erroneously slice out a value after i, because i is a space  
    buf = buf.slice(i + 1); // skip space (if any)
    console.log("=============== END LOOP " + counter + " ===============");
    counter++;
  }
  return result;
}

console.log(chunk("Hey there! € 100 to pay", 12));

Solution

Using Buffer seems indeed the right direction. Given that:

  • Buffer prototype has indexOf and lastIndexOf methods, and
  • 32 is the ASCII code of a space, and
  • 32 can never occur as part of a multi-byte character since all the bytes that make up a multi-byte sequence always have the most significant bit set.

… you can proceed as follows:

function chunk(s, maxBytes) {
    let buf = Buffer.from(s);
    const result = [];
    while (buf.length) {
        let i = buf.lastIndexOf(32, maxBytes+1);
        // If no space found, try forward search
        if (i < 0) i = buf.indexOf(32, maxBytes);
        // If there's no space at all, take the whole string
        if (i < 0) i = buf.length;
        // This is a safe cut-off point; never half-way a multi-byte
        result.push(buf.slice(0, i).toString());
        buf = buf.slice(i+1); // Skip space (if any)
    }
    return result;
}

console.log(chunk("Hey there! € 100 to pay", 12)); 
// -> [ 'Hey there!', '€ 100 to', 'pay' ]

You can consider extending this to also look for TAB, LF, or CR as split-characters. If so, and your input text can have CRLF sequences, you would need to detect those as well to avoid getting orphaned CR or LF characters in the chunks.

You can turn the above function into a generator, so that you control when you want to start the processing for getting the next chunk:

function * chunk(s, maxBytes) {
    let buf = Buffer.from(s);
    while (buf.length) {
        let i = buf.lastIndexOf(32, maxBytes+1);
        // If no space found, try forward search
        if (i < 0) i = buf.indexOf(32, maxBytes);
        // If there's no space at all, take all
        if (i < 0) i = buf.length;
        // This is a safe cut-off point; never half-way a multi-byte
        yield buf.slice(0, i).toString();
        buf = buf.slice(i+1); // Skip space (if any)
    }
}

for (let s of chunk("Hey there! € 100 to pay", 12)) console.log(s);

Browsers

Buffer is specific to Node. Browsers however implement TextEncoder and TextDecoder, which leads to similar code:

function * chunk(s, maxBytes) {
    const decoder = new TextDecoder("utf-8");
    let buf = new TextEncoder("utf-8").encode(s);
    while (buf.length) {
        let i = buf.lastIndexOf(32, maxBytes+1);
        // If no space found, try forward search
        if (i < 0) i = buf.indexOf(32, maxBytes);
        // If there's no space at all, take all
        if (i < 0) i = buf.length;
        // This is a safe cut-off point; never half-way a multi-byte
        yield decoder.decode(buf.slice(0, i));
        buf = buf.slice(i+1); // Skip space (if any)
    }
}

for (let s of chunk("Hey there! € 100 to pay", 12)) console.log(s);

Answered By – trincot

Answer Checked By – Mildred Charles (AngularFixing Admin)

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