Handling FontFaceSet.entries() result not being iterable in Firefox

By Sidney Liebrand on Nov 29, 20223 min read

Today at work I fixed a bug while working with FontFaceSet.entries() which only appears in Firefox. This might not seem so strange in browser land, until I give you the gist of the bug. So without further ado, let's get into it!

Bug description

You may at some point have used methods such as Object.entries() or URLSearchParams.entries() to get an iterator of [key, value] arrays. This iterator can then be used to loop over collections of data using for...of loops, or can be spread into an array using spread syntax.

This concept is pretty well known and has been widely implemented across browsers for quite some time so there should be no need to worry about implementation differences.

Unfortunately, this changed for me after encountering an issue only in Firefox where FontFaceSet.entries() does not return an iterable object while it does in fact look quite iterable:

FontFaceSet.entries() is not iterable error
FontFaceSet.entries() is not iterable error

Debugging the problem

To look further into what is causing this, we must know what document.fonts.entries() returns. We can figure out by creating a minimal reproducible example which can be used for debugging.

Given the following HTML:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<title>FontFaceSet.entries()</title>
<link
type="text/css"
rel="stylesheet"
href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Lato:[email protected]&display=swap"
/>
<link
type="text/css"
rel="stylesheet"
href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Roboto:[email protected]&display=swap"
/>
</head>
<body>
<span style="font-family: Lato">Hello</span>
<span style="font-family: Roboto">World</span>
<script type="text/javascript">
console.log(document.fonts.entries());
</script>
</body>
</html>

Opening this page in Firefox yields the following result in the console:

FontFaceSetIterator { }

Whereas in Chrome the following result appears in the console:

Iterator { }

Interesting indeed but alas, neither of these is actually documented (iterator protocols are, but not the objects themselves). In one case while checking URLSearchParams.entries() documentation the word "iterator" even links to the "iterator protocols" page... 😕

Looking for answers

One of the first things I did after realizing there was no documentation was to see if a bug was open on Firefox's bug tracker. Indeed two issues mention this unholy Firefox construct:

Unfortunately one is already a year old at the time of writing this article which means there is little hope for a "hotfix" and also means that this behavior has existed in Firefox for at least one year.

Since this isn't something Firefox seems to be fixing and the documentation is lacking there isn't much to do aside from writing a workaround.

Solving the problem

The value returned by document.fonts.entries() in Firefox may not be "officially" iterable from the browser's own perspective, but it does have a .next() method as is required per iterator protocol.

So, instead of relying on the browser we write our own function which exhausts this fake "iterator":

function fontFaceSetIteratorToArray(target) {
const iterable = target.entries();
const results = [];
let iterator = iterable.next();
while (iterator.done === false) {
results.push(iterator.value);
iterator = iterable.next();
}
return results;
}

Which means that in Firefox we can now finally loop over font faces 🎉

console.log(fontFaceSetIteratorToArray(document.fonts));

This piece of code works in all modern browsers so it can be used wherever references to FontFaceSet.entries() exist. It's not pretty, but it beats writing unreliable browser detection code.

Conclusion

Considering this is still an active problem in Firefox roughly a month before 2023, using spread syntax, for...of, or Array.from on FontFaceSet.entries() results is not viable and instead a polyfill such as the one found in this article must be used instead to ensure proper functionality across browsers.

It'll take some time before we can finally start using [...document.fonts.entries()] considering that even after closing the issue, we're still dependent on everyone updating their browsers.

While this post does not end on a high note I do hope Firefox developers fix this issue at some point so we can all enjoy the syntactically sugarcoated patterns we know and love :)

Until next time!

👋

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