I'm writing a function to increase a string so, for example, "aac" becomes "aad" and "aaz" becomes "aba". The result is horribly inelegant, I can't get it simple enough and I feel I'm missing something. How to improve that code?

function inc_str(str){
    var str = str.split("").map(function(a){ return a.charCodeAt(0); });
    var n = 1;
    while (n<str.length){
        if (str[str.length-n] > "z".charCodeAt(0))
            str[str.length-n] = "a".charCodeAt(0),
    return str.map(function(a){ return String.fromCharCode(a); }).join("");

Extra points for a brief functional style solution! (Even if it needs to implement other functional functions such as zip or whatever.)


2 Answers 2


A recursive approach is much more elegant in this case:

function inc_str(str) {
  var last = str[str.length - 1],
    head = str.substr(0, str.length - 1);
  if (last === "z") {
    return inc_str(head) + "a";
  } else {
    return head + String.fromCharCode(last.charCodeAt(0) + 1);

Making it wrap around for inc_str('z') is left as an exercise for the reader (hint: last becomes undefined).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hah! You couldn't resist opening an account just for this :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 17:26
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Yay I'm glad I motivated someone to joining in. Great way to start, also. That was the obvious thing I was missing, recursion! Adapting from your answer, I got the one-liner: function inc_str(str){ return (last(str) == "z") ? inc_str(head(str)) + "a" : head(str) + inc_char(last(str)); }; So elegant! Thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – MaiaVictor
    Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 17:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dokkat you shouldn't write your code so condensed. \$\endgroup\$
    – copy
    Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's fine, this isn't meant to be human readable as it is the base of an AI programming system I'm developing. Less tokens = better and I must avoid varaibles. \$\endgroup\$
    – MaiaVictor
    Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dokkat, so you wrote it with your eyes closed? \$\endgroup\$
    – radarbob
    Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 19:14

I suppose this could be written as:

 function inc_str(str){
 return !/^[a-z0-9]$/i.test(str[str.length-1]) ? str :
         str.substr(0,str.length-1) + 
          ( /z/i.test(str[str.length-1]) 
            ? String.fromCharCode(str.charCodeAt(str.length-1)-25) 
            : String.fromCharCode(str.charCodeAt(str.length-1)+1))
// usage
inc_str('aaa'); //=> 'aab'
inc_str('aaz'); //=> 'aaa'
inc_str('aaZ'); //=> 'aaA'
inc_str('aa2'); //=> 'aa3'
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your code doesn't roll over. inc_str('az') outputs as "aa" but should be "ba" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 2:41

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