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How to resolve TypeError: Cannot convert undefined or null to object

I’ve written a couple of functions that effectively replicate JSON.stringify(), converting a range of values into stringified versions. When I port my code over to JSBin and run it on some sample values, it functions just fine. But I’m getting this error in a spec runner designed to test this.

My code:

  // five lines of comments
  var stringify = function(obj) {
  if (typeof obj === 'function') { return undefined;}  // return undefined for function
  if (typeof obj === 'undefined') { return undefined;} // return undefined for undefined
  if (typeof obj === 'number') { return obj;} // number unchanged
  if (obj === 'null') { return null;} // null unchanged
  if (typeof obj === 'boolean') { return obj;} // boolean unchanged
  if (typeof obj === 'string') { return '"' + obj + '"';} // string gets escaped end-quotes
  if (Array.isArray(obj)) { 
    return (e) {  // uses map() to create new array with stringified elements
        return stringify(e);
  } else {
    var keys = Object.keys(obj);   // convert object's keys into an array
    var container = (k) {  // uses map() to create an array of key:(stringified)value pairs
        return k + ': ' + stringify(obj[k]);
    return '{' + container.join(', ') + '}'; // returns assembled object with curly brackets

var stringifyJSON = function(obj) {
    if (typeof stringify(obj) != 'undefined') {
        return "" + stringify(obj) + "";

The error message I’m getting from the tester is:

TypeError: Cannot convert undefined or null to object
    at Function.keys (native)
    at stringify (stringifyJSON.js:18:22)
    at stringifyJSON (stringifyJSON.js:27:13)
    at stringifyJSONSpec.js:7:20
    at Array.forEach (native)
    at Context.<anonymous> (stringifyJSONSpec.js:5:26)
    at (mocha.js:4039:32)
    at Runner.runTest (mocha.js:4404:10)
    at mocha.js:4450:12
    at next (mocha.js:4330:14)

It seems to fail with: stringifyJSON(null) for example


Generic answer

This error is caused when you call a function that expects an Object as its argument, but pass undefined or null instead, like for example

Object.assign(window.UndefinedVariable, {})

As that is usually by mistake, the solution is to check your code and fix the null/undefined condition so that the function either gets a proper Object, or does not get called at all.

Object.keys({'key': 'value'})
if (window.UndefinedVariable) {
    Object.assign(window.UndefinedVariable, {})

Answer specific to the code in question

The line if (obj === 'null') { return null;} // null unchanged will not evaluate when given null, only if given the string "null". So if you pass the actual null value to your script, it will be parsed in the Object part of the code. And Object.keys(null) throws the TypeError mentioned. To fix it, use if(obj === null) {return null} – without the qoutes around null.