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# What is the deepEqual method of the assert module in Node.js?

Talha Ashar

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The deepEqual method of the assert module in Node.js uses the == operator (Abstract Equality Comparison) to check for equality between two objects.

Deep equality means that the values of child objects are also compared.

The process is illustrated below:

Note: You can view a list of rules for the == operator here.

To use the deepEqual method, you will need to install the assert module using the command prompt as shown below:

npm install assert


After the installation is complete, you will need to import the assert module into the program as shown below:

const assert = require('assert');


The prototype of the deepEqual method is shown below:

deepEqual(actual, expected[, message])


## Parameters

The deepEqual method takes the following parameters:

• actual: The first of the two objects to compare.

• expected: The second of the two objects to compare.

• message: An optional parameter that holds the error message in case of an AssertionError. If this parameter is left empty, a default message is assigned.

## Return value

If the values are not equal, then the deepEqual method throws an AssertionError and the program terminates; otherwise, execution continues as normal.

In case of an error, the message property of the AssertionError is set equal to the message parameter. If the message parameter is not provided, a default value is assigned to the message property of the AssertionError.

Note: The deepEqual method also handles NaN(Not-A-Number) comparisons. If both values are NaN, the deepEqual method recognizes them as being identical.

## Example

The code below shows how the deepEqual method works in Node.js:

const assert = require('assert');// initializing objectsconst first = { a : { b : 10 } };const second = { a : { b : 10 } };const third = { a : { b : '10' } };const fourth = { a : { b : 30 } };const fifth = Object.create(first);// evaluating first expressiontry{  assert.deepEqual(first, second, "Assertion Error: The objects are not deep equal.")  console.log("No error.")}catch(error){  console.log(error.message)}// evaluating second expressiontry{  assert.deepEqual(first, third, "Assertion Error: The objects are not deep equal.")  console.log("No error.")}catch(error){  console.log(error.message)}// evaluating third expressiontry{  assert.deepEqual(first, fourth, "Assertion Error: The objects are not deep equal.")  console.log("No error.")}catch(error){  console.log(error.message)}// evaluating fourth expressiontry{  assert.deepEqual(first, fifth, "Assertion Error: The objects are not deep equal.")  console.log("No error.")}catch(error){  console.log(error.message)}

## Explanation

The code above uses $4$ different expressions to show the behavior of the deepEqual method.

First, $5$ different objects are initialized. The objects first and second are identical. The object third has the same structure as first, but it has a value of type string rather than an integer. Similarly, fourth also has the same structure as first, but the value is different, i.e., $30$. Finally, fifth is a Prototype Object created using first.

In the first expression in line $12$, the actual and expected parameters are identical objects with the value $10$, so the deepEqual method does not throw any errors. Therefore, only the try branch of the try-catch block executes.

In the second expression in line $21$, the actual and expected parameters have identical structures but have different types. The actual parameter is an integer, whereas the expected parameter is a string. Since the deepEqual method only checks values, it considers the objects equal and does not throw any errors. Therefore, only the try branch of the try-catch block executes.

In the third expression in line $30$, the actual and expected parameters are unequal, so an error is thrown, which triggers the catch branch of the try-catch block. The code outputs the message associated with the error, i.e., the string provided as the message parameter to the deepEqual method in line $30$.

Finally, the expression in line $39$ involves a comparison with a Prototype. Since the implementation of the deepEqual method does not test Prototypes, an error is thrown, which triggers the catch branch of the try-catch block. The code outputs the message associated with the error, i.e., the string provided as the message parameter to the deepEqual method in line $39$.

Note: You can read up further on the deepEqual method and other similar functions in the official documentation.

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Talha Ashar