Closures and references

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The prototype



How this works

Closures and references

The arguments object

Scopes and namespaces


Equality and comparisons


The Array constructor

The for in loop

The typeof operator

The instanceof operator

Type casting

undefined and null

Reasons against eval

setTimeout and setInterval

Automatic semicolon insertion

Closures and references

One of JavaScript's most powerful features is the availability of closures, this means that scopes always keep access to the outer scope they were defined in. Since the only scoping that JavaScript has is function scope, all functions, by default, act as closures.

Emulating private variables

function Counter(start) {
   var count = start;
   return {
       increment: function() {
       get: function() {
           return count;
var foo = Counter(4);
foo.get(); // 5

Here, Counter returns two closures. The function increment as well as the function get. Both of these functions keep a reference to the scope of Counter and, therefore, always keep access to the count variable that was defined in that very scope.

Why private variables work

Since it is not possible to reference or assign scopes in JavaScript, there is no way of accessing the variable count from the outside. The only way to interact with it is via the two closures.

var foo = new Counter(4);
foo.hack = function() {
   count = 1337;

The above code will not change the variable count in the scope of Counter, since foo.hack was not defined in that scope. It will instead create - or override - theglobal variable count.

Closures inside loops

One often made mistake is to use closures inside of loops, as if they were copying the value of the loops index variable.

for(var i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
   setTimeout(function() {
   }, 1000);

The above will not output the numbers 0 through 9, but will simply print the number 10 ten times.

The anonymous function keeps a reference to i and at the time console.log gets called, the for loop has already finished and the value of i as been set to 10.

In order to get the desired behavior, it is necessary to create a copy of the value of i.

Avoiding the reference problem

In order to copy the value of the loop's index variable, it is best to use an anonymous wrapper.

for(var i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
   (function(e) {
       setTimeout(function() {
       }, 1000);

The anonymous outer function gets called immediately with i as its first argument and will receive a copy of the value of i as its parameter e.

The anonymous function that gets passed to setTimeout now has a reference to e, whose value does not get changed by the loop.

There is another possible way of achieving this; that is to return a function from the anonymous wrapper, that will then have the same behavior as the code above.

for(var i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
   setTimeout((function(e) {
       return function() {
   })(i), 1000)

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