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String length in bytes in JavaScript

In my JavaScript code I need to compose a message to server in this format:

<size in bytes>CRLF



The data may contain unicode characters. I need to send them as UTF-8.

I’m looking for the most cross-browser way to calculate the length of the string in bytes in JavaScript.

I’ve tried this to compose my payload:

return unescape(encodeURIComponent(str)).length + "n" + str + "n"

But it does not give me accurate results for the older browsers (or, maybe the strings in those browsers in UTF-16?).

Any clues?


Example: length in bytes of the string ЭЭХ! Naïve? in UTF-8 is 15 bytes, but some browsers report 23 bytes instead.


There is no way to do it in JavaScript natively. (See Riccardo Galli’s answer for a modern approach.)

For historical reference or where TextEncoder APIs are still unavailable.

If you know the character encoding, you can calculate it yourself though.

encodeURIComponent assumes UTF-8 as the character encoding, so if you need that encoding, you can do,

function lengthInUtf8Bytes(str) {
  // Matches only the 10.. bytes that are non-initial characters in a multi-byte sequence.
  var m = encodeURIComponent(str).match(/%[89ABab]/g);
  return str.length + (m ? m.length : 0);

This should work because of the way UTF-8 encodes multi-byte sequences. The first encoded byte always starts with either a high bit of zero for a single byte sequence, or a byte whose first hex digit is C, D, E, or F. The second and subsequent bytes are the ones whose first two bits are 10. Those are the extra bytes you want to count in UTF-8.

The table in wikipedia makes it clearer

Bits        Last code point Byte 1          Byte 2          Byte 3
  7         U+007F          0xxxxxxx
 11         U+07FF          110xxxxx        10xxxxxx
 16         U+FFFF          1110xxxx        10xxxxxx        10xxxxxx

If instead you need to understand the page encoding, you can use this trick:

function lengthInPageEncoding(s) {
  var a = document.createElement('A');
  a.href = '#' + s;
  var sEncoded = a.href;
  sEncoded = sEncoded.substring(sEncoded.indexOf('#') + 1);
  var m = sEncoded.match(/%[0-9a-f]{2}/g);
  return sEncoded.length - (m ? m.length * 2 : 0);