When are you supposed to use escape instead of encodeURI / encodeURIComponent?

03/26/2020 23:00:02

When encoding a query string to be sent to a web server - when do you use escape() and when do you use encodeURI() or encodeURIComponent():

Use escape:

escape("% +&=");

OR

use encodeURI() / encodeURIComponent()

encodeURI("http://www.google.com?var1=value1&var2=value2");

encodeURIComponent("var1=value1&var2=value2");

Verified Answer (1905 Votes)

08/31/2010 17:04:17

escape()

Don't use it! escape() is defined in section B.2.1.2 escape and the introduction text of Annex B says:

... All of the language features and behaviours specified in this annex have one or more undesirable characteristics and in the absence of legacy usage would be removed from this specification. ...
... Programmers should not use or assume the existence of these features and behaviours when writing new ECMAScript code....

Behaviour:

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/JavaScript/Reference/Global_Objects/escape

Special characters are encoded with the exception of: @*_+-./

The hexadecimal form for characters, whose code unit value is 0xFF or less, is a two-digit escape sequence: %xx.

For characters with a greater code unit, the four-digit format %uxxxx is used. This is not allowed within a query string (as defined in RFC3986):

query       = *( pchar / "/" / "?" )
pchar         = unreserved / pct-encoded / sub-delims / ":" / "@"
unreserved    = ALPHA / DIGIT / "-" / "." / "_" / "~"
pct-encoded   = "%" HEXDIG HEXDIG
sub-delims    = "!" / "$" / "&" / "'" / "(" / ")"
              / "*" / "+" / "," / ";" / "="

A percent sign is only allowed if it is directly followed by two hexdigits, percent followed by u is not allowed.

encodeURI()

Use encodeURI when you want a working URL. Make this call:

encodeURI("http://www.example.org/a file with spaces.html")

to get:

http://www.example.org/a%20file%20with%20spaces.html

Don't call encodeURIComponent since it would destroy the URL and return

http%3A%2F%2Fwww.example.org%2Fa%20file%20with%20spaces.html

encodeURIComponent()

Use encodeURIComponent when you want to encode the value of a URL parameter.

var p1 = encodeURIComponent("http://example.org/?a=12&b=55")

Then you may create the URL you need:

var url = "http://example.net/?param1=" + p1 + "&param2=99";

And you will get this complete URL:

http://example.net/?param1=http%3A%2F%2Fexample.org%2F%Ffa%3D12%26b%3D55&param2=99

Note that encodeURIComponent does not escape the ' character. A common bug is to use it to create html attributes such as href='MyUrl', which could suffer an injection bug. If you are constructing html from strings, either use " instead of ' for attribute quotes, or add an extra layer of encoding (' can be encoded as %27).

For more information on this type of encoding you can check: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percent-encoding

1905

Answer #2 (438 Votes)

05/24/2014 11:54:51

The difference between encodeURI() and encodeURIComponent() are exactly 11 characters encoded by encodeURIComponent but not by encodeURI:

Table with the ten differences between encodeURI and encodeURIComponent

I generated this table easily with console.table in Google Chrome with this code:

var arr = [];
for(var i=0;i<256;i++) {
  var char=String.fromCharCode(i);
  if(encodeURI(char)!==encodeURIComponent(char)) {
    arr.push({
      character:char,
      encodeURI:encodeURI(char),
      encodeURIComponent:encodeURIComponent(char)
    });
  }
}
console.table(arr);

438

Answer #3 (46 Votes)

10/09/2012 14:26:43

I found this article enlightening : Javascript Madness: Query String Parsing

I found it when I was trying to undersand why decodeURIComponent was not decoding '+' correctly. Here is an extract:

String:                         "A + B"
Expected Query String Encoding: "A+%2B+B"
escape("A + B") =               "A%20+%20B"     Wrong!
encodeURI("A + B") =            "A%20+%20B"     Wrong!
encodeURIComponent("A + B") =   "A%20%2B%20B"   Acceptable, but strange

Encoded String:                 "A+%2B+B"
Expected Decoding:              "A + B"
unescape("A+%2B+B") =           "A+++B"       Wrong!
decodeURI("A+%2B+B") =          "A+++B"       Wrong!
decodeURIComponent("A+%2B+B") = "A+++B"       Wrong!
46
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