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JavaScript Garden (bonsaiden.github.com)
397 points by aundumla on Mar 11, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments

Excellent write-up! I've learned most of these things the hard way :/ I'm filing this away to recommend to any developers who are setting out to use Javascript extensively for the first time.

One quibble: In the "common pitfalls" section regarding the "this" object, they say that locally-defined functions within other functions never have any practical use. I might disagree: with a little coaxing, you can convince locally variables inside the constructor (both functions and other variables) to serve as private properties of an object; this is the only technique I know that allows for private properties.

(I haven't actually done this in code that has been maintained/used anywhere, I just did it as an experiment and filed it away as a "that's cool" for future reference)

Edit: Here is an example of what I'm talking about: https://gist.github.com/866103

> One quibble: In the "common pitfalls" section regarding the "this" object, they say that locally-defined functions within other functions never have any practical use.

Might also come in handy if you are into functional programming with Javascript.

There is actually a much better way to make private functions and properties in JavaScript using the module pattern and closure.

Since all functions are objects in JS, you can create a function with some internal (private) functions and properties than return a object with some publicly accessible functions. A basic example:


Closure gives you a really powerful structure that lets you encapsulate your code and then you don't have to use this and risk clobbering the global window object :)

It's basically the same thing, closure is the name of the game here. Your solution is probably a bit more costly for memory though.

Be careful of that. There is a trap right there. Your example is using the "new" keyword and not executing the function. So what happened?

1. If you use the "new" keyword, and don't execute the function. "x = new foo()". X becomes an "object". "foo()" is behaving like a class. You got to define the properties and methods of this class with the "this" keyword. Once you create your object with the "new" keyword, these variables got assigned to the object. And better, you can access them with the prototype.

2. If you execute the function in your code, that is you put "foo()": Open your FireFox with FireBug and notice two new global variables in the Windows object "get_my_private" and "set_my_private".

So it depends on the usage. "this" insides of a function is useful, if your intent is to use the function as a class. If not, it's dangerous, as the variables becomes global and may interfere with other variables.

There's an easy way to fix that, though:

  function Foo(){
    if (this == window) throw "USE NEW!";
    // continue with object creation
Or use the standard practice of having class-creating function names capitalized, and let people know to follow it.

Fix: ( from http://elegantcode.com/2010/12/21/basic-javascript-part-4-en... )

    function Podcast() {
      if(false === (this instanceof Podcast)) {
        return new Podcast();
      // other code

Does anyone have an idea of what happened to "The secrets of the JavaScript ninja"? I'm impatiently waiting for this book to be released.

It's in review (I'm an occasional Manning reviewer and have looked at this recently).

Can we know, when this is going to be released? Not looking for a precise date, just a range.

There's some info about the status and estimated publishing date at http://www.manning.com/resig/

Same here. Meanwhile you can run through this tutorial if you haven't done yet:


This looks like an excellent resource for when you are too lazy to get up out of your chair and pick up your copy of "JavaScript: The Good Parts" ;)

It's a great book but one has to note that not everything there is "how things should be done" these days, Crockford himself has changed his mind on some of the things he wrote there. Take this as for example: http://www.bolinfest.com/javascript/inheritance.php or that the book advocates extending native objects (including "Object").

I thought the exact same thing, especially when I caught the "the evil eval" header. Still, handy to have the reference online.

In the prototype example [1], could someone explain the point or at least the effect of setting Bar.prototype.constructor = Bar?

1. http://bonsaiden.github.com/JavaScript-Garden/#prototype

A couple of lines up you see this:

  Bar.prototype = new Foo();
Then, Bar.prototype.constructor == Foo()

So when you create a new instance of Bar, it's constructor still appears to be Foo even though it really isn't. Setting the prototype.constructor fixes that.

the native prototypes should never be extended unless it is for the sake of compatibility with newer JavaScript features

A bit controversial, don't you think?

I think it's more of an issue of who is doing the extending. If it's your own code in a non shared library, then it's up to you.

If it's in a shared library, it is probably nicer to avoid. For instance, if you override a function on a native prototype, you might be overwriting some future function that browsers will implement. I've seen this done with Array.map for instance.

This is the case with extensions/inheritence in all the OO languages. You are supposed to verify that your extended library works, once you upgrade the base library.

Well that's why the statement is controversial. This person flat out says, NEVER extend native prototypes except for 1 single case.

Sorry, but blanket statements like that are complete B.S. It all depends on context; it makes me dubious of the rest of this article if they can get away with statements like this.

With JavaScript, it's still extremely good practice -- you don't know what code you might break by extending the native prototypes. You may make it hard to integrate your code with libraries or other code.

It's really not that controversial.

Actually, that's still the point though. If you are building a library to be used in a variety of contexts, with no prior knowledge of the environment, it's probably not a good idea to extend native prototypes.

If however, you are building a site or web app (like the majority of Javascript developers, I would assume), then the benefits of extending prototypes within your app can provide great advantages and keep your code much cleaner.

So again, I am not saying don't extend, and I am not saying extend, I am simply saying, that I agree that one should err on the side of caution and asses the situation for which they are coding for and make a decision regarding those circumstances. Simply saying a best practice is to 'never' do it to me is quite short sighted and is not properly educating new developers on how to write good Javascript.

For the record, I have often extended natives within my applications, and have never once had a conflict.

> then the benefits of extending prototypes within your app can provide great advantages and keep your code much cleaner.

The assumption here is that you're never going to use any 3rd party code. Sure, a lot of libraries are forgiving of extended natives, but certainly not all JavaScript code is (especially code written before the hasOwnProperty method existed).

> For the record, I have often extended natives within my applications, and have never once had a conflict.

I have as well, it seems like a much more common practice in the past than now. I did, however, have conflicts with code (a date popup script, for example) that also extended natives. Now neither my own code, nor later versions of that exact script, extend natives anymore. I don't think the advantages are really all that great to warrant messing with them.

You're actually further proving my point. I said that if you are writing an external library, it's a good practice NOT to extend prototypes since the context the plugin will be used in is entirely unknown.

The argument that you are giving for internal application development is akin to saying, well shit, someone could set your global namespace to null, so now what? Stop namespacing?

The better solution is don't use a crappy plugin. I prefer to write clean, maintainable, easy to read code with great abstractions, which would mean I refuse to use a shitty library and would opt instead to rewrite it myself or find a new one that does it right.

Again, I really don't see this as an issue, because extending native prototypes is one of Javascript's more powerful utilities.

The statement comes from experience, extended stuff is bad just bad for you. jQuery and others are dropping the use of hasOwnProperty. So if you extend stuff and include one of these libs, they will break. The devs just don't care anymore. Also, there are people who are even more against it that really say NEVER EVER extend them, not even for the sake of backwards compatability.

Also, my guide isn't even need the controversity of some of the statements that Crockford has made ;) In the end it's all advice, I'm not forcing you to write code this way.

In fact, I like it when people question the stuff I write, the worst thing that can happen is that people pick one book/guide whatever and just follow it 100% without ever thinking on their own.

Again, it's not 'bad for you'. You don't NOT use a hammer because it doesn't work well with screws. It works great on nails, so again, context is everything. Supplying best practices that include the words 'always' or 'never', often fall quite short and don't serve people well.

Everyday you learn something new

    for(i=0;i<this;i++){ fn(i); }


If somebody’s wondering about the double dot like me: “A common misconception is that number literals cannot be used as objects. That is because a flaw in JavaScript’s parser tries to parse the dot notation on a number as a floating point literal.”

But then, "native prototypes should never be extended unless it is for the sake of compatibility with newer JavaScript features."

Should probably also mention the Function constructor in the eval section. Also object keys are always are type cast into strings so object[1] = "moo" becomes object["1"], this is rarely a problem but can be.

Very well done.

I'd add under setTimeout and setInterval that anything below 8ms may not work as expected across different browsers/hardware. Even setting 1ms to indicate "as soon as possible" may not occur as expected when repeatedly called.

also: the font size is a little small for my eyes in the code boxes - I can fix it of course with stylish but maybe that can be addressed directly on the site

We have a newer version of the website in the works, but it's getting delayed to my new job. I hardly have anytime at the moment to work with Yi Jiang on the style since I spend 5 hours a day sitting in a train. But that will change as soon as I manage to move.

I've seen so many people insist that Javascript code should be Semicolon free recently. It always felt wrong to me, mainly because I code in several languages and getting into the habit of not using semicolons felt dangerous. It's nice to know there's a genuine reason to continue using them.

This site is too light on details for me to trust its conclusions.

Under “The evil eval”, it concludes that you should never use eval simply because it sometimes executes in global scope. That does not seem like an obvious conclusion to me. Yes, it’s a mistake to use it on user input, but that is easily avoided. I think the site should give an example of a situation where you think you need eval, the problems eval necessarily brings in that case, and how to write that without eval. Otherwise, I don’t trust that the site writer has actually explored why people use eval or what eval might be able to provide that nothing else can.

Also, under “Automatic semicolon insertion”, the site does not mention the alternative to using semicolons everywhere, which is not using semicolons but remembering to put a semicolon before each line starting with parentheses. That is a valid alternate practice, and the site ignores the possibility without even discussing its problems.

The fact that each of those two sections contain grammar mistakes (comma splices) also signals a lack of attention to detail.

Why the downvote? I thought I gave ample justification for my criticisms of the article, and my criticisms were constructive.

One gotcha I've noticed a lot is when people forget to check for Console object. Or they might do this (doesn't work):

instead of

  if(!window.console) or if( typeof console === 'undefined' )

I have to plug my console wrapper which takes care of problems like these :)


great design (in addition to the content). How did you make it? I like the right contents column changing topic as I read.

The position of the articles are stored in an array when the dom is loaded.

When the document scrolls it compares the scroll position to the stored offset positions.

If an article is close enough to the scroll offset it's highlighted.

Looks helpful and is neatly presented. It would be great to have something like this replicated for other languages.

Love it; I'll definitely switch to strict equality comparisons from now on!

Well written, clear syntax highlighted examples. Upboat.

Thanks for the tips, very intresting

Very good job.

Very useful.

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