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JavaScript Best Practices

JavaScript Best Practices — More Code That Shouldn’t be Added

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JavaScript is a very forgiving language. It’s easy to write code that runs but has mistakes in it.

In this article, we’ll look at more code that shouldn’t be added to our JavaScript code.

No Implicit Global Variable Declaration

A global variable declaration can be done in various ways in JavaScript. Without strict mode enabled, we can declare a global variable with var .

For instance, we can write something like the following to create global variables without strict mode:

var x = 1;

Since the code above is in the top level, if we have strict mode off, we’ll declare a variable in the global scope.

In the browser, the code above is the same as window.x = 1 .

Therefore, using var isn’t the best way to declare a variable at the top level without strict mode.

Now that we have let and const , we should use those instead since they won’t declare a global scope, and also, their scope is consistent anywhere. They always declare variables in a block scope.

Even in the top-level, they won’t declare global variables. Preventing declaring global variables accidentally can also be done with enabling strict mode.

This way, the example we have above won’t attach x as a property of window .

No Implied eval() Code

setTimeout and setInterval can accept a string that runs the code as a their callback.

For instance, the following:

setTimeout("console.log('foo');", 100);

does the same thing as:

setTimeout(() => console.log('foo'), 100);

setInterval has the same feature, so:

setInterval("console.log('foo');", 1000);

does the same thing as:

setInterval(() => console.log('foo'), 1000);

This means that we can insert any string into either function and run the code.

The string is interpreted in the global scope, so anybody can set variables inside themselves if they wish and run arbitrary code. Running code from a string is also slower. Therefore, we should avoid passing strings into setInterval and setTimeout .

Instead, we should pass in a callback.

No this Keywords Outside of Classes or Class-Like Objects

The keyword this shouldn’t be used where it isn’t needed. Therefore, it shouldn’t be used outside of constructor functions, object literals or classes.

Object literals can have this inside its methods. Getters and setters inside objects, constructor functions, and classes can also reference this since they’re part of an instance.

this can also be referenced in callbacks and traditional functions that calls call , apply , or bind .

For instance, we can write the following code:

function() {
  this.foo = 0;
}

The following is also good:

class Foo {
  constructor(foo) {
    this.foo = foo;
  }
}

Things like arrow functions should have this in it, since it doesn’t bind to this , so:

() => this.foo;

isn’t proper JavaScript code.

We can also use call as follows:

(function foo() {
  console.log(this.foo)
}).call({
  foo: 'bar'
})

Then we see that the console log outputs 'bar' , which is the valur of foo that we pass into call .

Photo by Kevin Mueller on Unsplash

Disallow Iterator

The __iterator__ property was a custom property of an object’s prototype that’s used to create a custom iterator for for...in loops.

Now that JavaScript has iterators, we don’t need this. For instance, the following is now obsolete code:

Bar.prototype.__iterator__ = function() {
    return new BarIterator(this);
}

We shouldn’t write code like that anymore now.

Disallow Labeled Statements

We can add labels to JavaScript in conjunction with break and continue to control the flow of multiple loops.

For instance, if we have:

outer:
  for (let i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
    while (true) {
      break outer;
    }
  }

Then we end the for loop when the while loop is first executed. The better way to use break and continue is without labels.

The code above is more error-prone and harder to understand than the code without labels.

For instance, we should write:

while (true) {
  break;
}

so we don’t have labels.

Conclusion

A global variable declaration shouldn’t be added accidentally to our JavaScript code. To do this, we should make sure strict mode is on and we aren’t using var if it’s off.

We can pass in a string to setTimeout and setInterval to run code. They’re all run in the global scope. This lets anyone sets global variables and run code as they wish. Also, it’s slower than running the actual code. Therefore, we shouldn’t use strings as callbacks in those functions.

this should only be included when it’s needed. They’re needed only in constructor functions, classes, and object methods.

The __iterator__ is obsolete and shouldn’t be used. Finally, labels are also not commonly used for marking loops for reference and shouldn’t bee used since it’s error-prone and hard to read.

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