A BSON ObjectId implementation in Javascript

Recently I spent a few days implementing the BSON ObjectId data type used by MongoDB in javascript so I could generate ObjectIds in a a web browser. I originally had a specific problem to solve. However, I ended reworking my approach in that instance so I did not have to generate ObjectIds in the browser. Despite this, the code is still a valid approach to solving my original problem. The code is available on the justaprogrammer github org, The project is called ObjectId.js. Although the git repository contains a sample html file to illustrate its usage, all you need is the javascript file, and if you want to support IE6, json2.js.

How It Works

Originally, I wanted an implementation of ObjectId that could interact with the format that the WCF DataContractJsonSerializer serialized objects of the type MongoDB.Bson.ObjectId in the official 10gen MongoDB C# driver. This format looked like this:

{
    "timestamp":1298346771,
    "machine":8775338,
    "pid":20092,
    "increment":0
}

Now, it was trivial a JSON object that looked like this. The real issue was filling those 4 values in a sensible manner. I ended up settling on the following:

  • timestamp: This is supposed to be seconds since the unix epoch. Javascript represents time as milliseconds since the UNIX epoch. Therefore all I had to do was set this to Math.floor(new Date().valueOf() / 1000)
  • machine: This is normally the first three bytes of the md5 hash of the hostname. Since I can’t access that from the browser I store a random number in html5 local storage and a cookie for fallback. This makes the machine id probably consistent for a given combination of machine, logon and browser. Naturally, I could use something like evercookie to make the machine part of the object id more sticky. However, I felt this was “good enough”
  • pid: Pid is generated every time ObjectId.js is executed, so usually once per page. This means that pid changes each page load, but remains consistent across Ajax calls on a single page reload.
  • increment: This was simple. pid++ every time I generate a new ObjectId.

So if you need to generate ObjectId’s in javascript, check out this class. If you find a bug or have an improvement, fork and send a pull request. Happy coding!.