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Split a JavaScript string into words

Up until a few years ago, the go-to method for splitting a string into words was String.prototype.split(). While it can still work just fine, it's a bit of a hassle to get right, especially for longer bodies of text. Yet, JavaScript has come up with a simpler way that takes care of all the nuances for us - Intl.Segmenter.

Using the Intl.Segmenter() constructor, we can create a segmenter for a given locale, with a specific granularity. In this case, we want to split a string into words, so we'll use the word granularity. Then, we can use the Intl.Segmenter.prototype.segment() method to split the string into segments.

A segment is an object with a handful of properties. The ones that are interesting for this task are segment and isWordLike. The former is the actual segment, while the latter is a boolean indicating whether the segment is word-like or not. This allows us to easily filter out non-word segments.

Putting everything together, we can create a function that splits a string into words, using the Intl.Segmenter API.

const splitIntoWords = (str, locale) =>
  [ Intl.Segmenter(locale, { granularity: 'word' }).segment(str)].reduce(
    (acc, { segment, isWordLike }) => {
      if (isWordLike) acc.push(segment);
      return acc;

splitIntoWords('I love javaScript!!', 'en-US');
// ['I', 'love', 'javaScript']
splitIntoWords('python, javaScript & coffee', 'en-US');
// ['python', 'javaScript', 'coffee']
💬 Note

At the time of writing (January, 2024), Intl.Segmenter doesn't have perfect support across all browsers. Most notably, it's not yet supported in Firefox, although support seems to be just around the corner. Make sure to double check compatibility before using it in production.

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