Get UTF-8 string from array of bytes in Node.JS

While I was working on js-yaml - JavaScript port of PyYAML (by the time of writing this post, js-yaml is still in WIP stage), I found that I need something to convert stream of bytes into a string. So this is a quick and simple example of how to get an UTF8 string from the stream of bytes.

Lets start with problem definition: “We need to get string from its representation in bytes”. In python it would be something akin to this (assuming codes is a list of integers):


Now lets encode and then decode a Russian word, that describes my feeling about using JavaScript on the server: какашка. We can get array of UTF8 bytes representation of a string with following snippet:

function getBytes(str) {
  var bytes = [], char;
  str = encodeURI(str);

  while (str.length) {
    char = str.slice(0, 1);
    str = str.slice(1);

    if ('%' !== char) {
    } else {
      char = str.slice(0, 2);
      str = str.slice(2);

      bytes.push(parseInt(char, 16));

  return bytes;

The function above returns an array of integers, so for example, it will return [90] for 'Z', or [208, 175] for 'Я' or [90, 208, 175] for 'ZЯ'. Now lets get bytes array for our “magic word”…

var bytes = getBytes('какашка');
// -> [ 208, 186, 208, 176, 208, 186, 208, 176, 209, 136, 208, 186, 208, 176 ]

And now! Ladies and Gentlemen! *drum roll* Here is our snippet to get string representation back:

var buff = new Buffer(bytes);
// -> какашка
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