Asked  7 Months ago    Answers:  5   Viewed   24 times

I saw the following in the source for WebKit HTML 5 SQL Storage Notes Demo:

function Note() {
  var self = this;

  var note = document.createElement('div');
  note.className = 'note';
  note.addEventListener('mousedown', function(e) { return self.onMouseDown(e) }, false);
  note.addEventListener('click', function() { return self.onNoteClick() }, false);
  this.note = note;
  // ...
}

The author uses self in some places (the function body) and this in other places (the bodies of functions defined in the argument list of methods). What's going on? Now that I've noticed it once, will I start seeing it everywhere?

 Answers

50

See this article on alistapart.com. (Ed: The article has been updated since originally linked)

self is being used to maintain a reference to the original this even as the context is changing. It's a technique often used in event handlers (especially in closures).

Edit: Note that using self is now discouraged as window.self exists and has the potential to cause errors if you are not careful.

What you call the variable doesn't particularly matter. var that = this; is fine, but there's nothing magic about the name.

Functions declared inside a context (e.g. callbacks, closures) will have access to the variables/function declared in the same scope or above.

For example, a simple event callback:

function MyConstructor(options) {
  let that = this;

  this.someprop = options.someprop || 'defaultprop';

  document.addEventListener('click', (event) => {
    alert(that.someprop);
  });
}

new MyConstructor({
  someprop: "Hello World"
});
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
 
capsid
answered 7 Months ago
95

Editor's Note: All functions in JavaScript are closures as explained in this post. However we are only interested in identifying a subset of these functions which are interesting from a theoretical point of view. Henceforth any reference to the word closure will refer to this subset of functions unless otherwise stated.

A simple explanation for closures:

  1. Take a function. Let's call it F.
  2. List all the variables of F.
  3. The variables may be of two types:
    1. Local variables (bound variables)
    2. Non-local variables (free variables)
  4. If F has no free variables then it cannot be a closure.
  5. If F has any free variables (which are defined in a parent scope of F) then:
    1. There must be only one parent scope of F to which a free variable is bound.
    2. If F is referenced from outside that parent scope, then it becomes a closure for that free variable.
    3. That free variable is called an upvalue of the closure F.

Now let's use this to figure out who uses closures and who doesn't (for the sake of explanation I have named the functions):

Case 1: Your Friend's Program

for (var i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
    (function f() {
        var i2 = i;
        setTimeout(function g() {
            console.log(i2);
        }, 1000);
    })();
}

In the above program there are two functions: f and g. Let's see if they are closures:

For f:

  1. List the variables:
    1. i2 is a local variable.
    2. i is a free variable.
    3. setTimeout is a free variable.
    4. g is a local variable.
    5. console is a free variable.
  2. Find the parent scope to which each free variable is bound:
    1. i is bound to the global scope.
    2. setTimeout is bound to the global scope.
    3. console is bound to the global scope.
  3. In which scope is the function referenced? The global scope.
    1. Hence i is not closed over by f.
    2. Hence setTimeout is not closed over by f.
    3. Hence console is not closed over by f.

Thus the function f is not a closure.

For g:

  1. List the variables:
    1. console is a free variable.
    2. i2 is a free variable.
  2. Find the parent scope to which each free variable is bound:
    1. console is bound to the global scope.
    2. i2 is bound to the scope of f.
  3. In which scope is the function referenced? The scope of setTimeout.
    1. Hence console is not closed over by g.
    2. Hence i2 is closed over by g.

Thus the function g is a closure for the free variable i2 (which is an upvalue for g) when it's referenced from within setTimeout.

Bad for you: Your friend is using a closure. The inner function is a closure.

Case 2: Your Program

for (var i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
    setTimeout((function f(i2) {
        return function g() {
            console.log(i2);
        };
    })(i), 1000);
}

In the above program there are two functions: f and g. Let's see if they are closures:

For f:

  1. List the variables:
    1. i2 is a local variable.
    2. g is a local variable.
    3. console is a free variable.
  2. Find the parent scope to which each free variable is bound:
    1. console is bound to the global scope.
  3. In which scope is the function referenced? The global scope.
    1. Hence console is not closed over by f.

Thus the function f is not a closure.

For g:

  1. List the variables:
    1. console is a free variable.
    2. i2 is a free variable.
  2. Find the parent scope to which each free variable is bound:
    1. console is bound to the global scope.
    2. i2 is bound to the scope of f.
  3. In which scope is the function referenced? The scope of setTimeout.
    1. Hence console is not closed over by g.
    2. Hence i2 is closed over by g.

Thus the function g is a closure for the free variable i2 (which is an upvalue for g) when it's referenced from within setTimeout.

Good for you: You are using a closure. The inner function is a closure.

So both you and your friend are using closures. Stop arguing. I hope I cleared the concept of closures and how to identify them for the both of you.

Edit: A simple explanation as to why are all functions closures (credits @Peter):

First let's consider the following program (it's the control):

lexicalScope();

function lexicalScope() {
    var message = "This is the control. You should be able to see this message being alerted.";

    regularFunction();

    function regularFunction() {
        alert(eval("message"));
    }
}
  1. We know that both lexicalScope and regularFunction aren't closures from the above definition.
  2. When we execute the program we expect message to be alerted because regularFunction is not a closure (i.e. it has access to all the variables in its parent scope - including message).
  3. When we execute the program we observe that message is indeed alerted.

Next let's consider the following program (it's the alternative):

var closureFunction = lexicalScope();

closureFunction();

function lexicalScope() {
    var message = "This is the alternative. If you see this message being alerted then in means that every function in JavaScript is a closure.";

    return function closureFunction() {
        alert(eval("message"));
    };
}
  1. We know that only closureFunction is a closure from the above definition.
  2. When we execute the program we expect message not to be alerted because closureFunction is a closure (i.e. it only has access to all its non-local variables at the time the function is created (see this answer) - this does not include message).
  3. When we execute the program we observe that message is actually being alerted.

What do we infer from this?

  1. JavaScript interpreters do not treat closures differently from the way they treat other functions.
  2. Every function carries its scope chain along with it. Closures don't have a separate referencing environment.
  3. A closure is just like every other function. We just call them closures when they are referenced in a scope outside the scope to which they belong because this is an interesting case.
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
 
Zigglzworth
answered 7 Months ago
71

Generally, this means a copy of this. The thing about this is that it changes within each function. Storing it this way, however, keeps $this from changing whereas this does change.

jQuery heavily uses the magic this value.

Consider this code, where you might need something like you are seeing:

$.fn.doSomethingWithElements = function() {
    var $this = this;

    this.each(function() {
        // `this` refers to each element and differs each time this function
        //    is called
        //
        // `$this` refers to old `this`, i.e. the set of elements, and will be
        //    the same each time this function is called
    });
};
Monday, August 2, 2021
 
Eddas
answered 5 Months ago
21

why don't you pass an object containing the view variables? would be cleaner then potentially displaying any existing variable in your view.

var templatize = function(string, variables) {
  return function (string) {
    return string.replace(/{{(.*?)}}/g, function(pattern, match) {
      value = variables[match];
      if (value) {
        return value;
      } else {
        return pattern;
      }
    });
  }.call(this, string);
}
Saturday, August 7, 2021
 
jay.sf
answered 4 Months ago
25

The logical operators in JavaScript actually evaluate to one of the two objects. When you use a || b it evaluates to b if a is false, or to a if a is true. Thus a || [] will be a if a is any value that is true, or [] if a is any value that is false.

It's much more obvious to use if (!a) { a = [] };

Wednesday, September 29, 2021
 
Muhammad Rehan Saeed
answered 3 Months ago
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