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JavaScript - What you might have missed: Datatypes, Arrays, and Variable scope

Ben Levy
September 25, 2013

JavaScript - What you might have missed: Datatypes, Arrays, and Variable scope

A talk on JavaScript given by Ben Levy. This talk focuses on datatypes, arrays, and variable scope.

Ben Levy

September 25, 2013

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  1. Overview JavaScript (JS) is a lightweight, interpreted, object- oriented language

    with first-class functions. It is a prototype-based, multi-paradigm scripting language that is dynamic, is type safe, and supports multiple programming styles. • Originally released in 1995 with beta releases of Netscape Navigator. • Usually used on the web browser but also used in other environments (ex: CouchDB, Grunt, node.js, Rhino).
  2. Problem Since it is a small, lightweight language with a

    familiar syntax, it is easy to start using JavaScript. It is usually not used as a standalone language, so it is possible to get by without using more complex JavaScript. This can lead to issues because there are many times when JavaScript may not behave the way we assumed it would. Additionally, there are many features and techniques that are not obvious when looking at JavaScript.
  3. Datatypes JS has the types Boolean, Number, String, null, and

    undefined. null is a special keyword denoting a null value. undefined is a top-level property whose value is undefined. null and undefined are primitive values.
  4. Dynamic typing Because JS is a dynamically typed language, variables

    do not have to be specified when declared and data types are converted automatically. The code below is valid. var foo = null; foo = 12; foo = "012"; console.log(foo); >> 012
  5. Dynamic typing Dynamic typing can lead to interesting results when

    using mathematical operators. console.log("50" - 12); >> 38 console.log("50" + 12); >> 5012 console.log(("15") + ("26")); >> 1526 console.log((+"15") + (+"26")); >> 41 var foo; console.log(foo + 12); >> NaN
  6. Converting a number to string JavaScript offers different ways to

    explicitly convert a Number to a String. var foo = 23, bar; // Calling the toString method bar = foo.toString(); // Instantiate a new String object bar = new String(foo); // Concat with an empty string bar = '' + foo; Test results: http://jsperf.com/scunliffe-number-to-string
  7. Converting a string to a number The parseInt and parseFloat

    can be used to convert a String to a Number. The radix should always be supplied because it defaults to 8 in certain cases. var foo = "023.5"; var bar; // parseInt(string, radix); bar = parseInt(foo, 10); // parseFloat(string) bar = parseFloat(foo);
  8. Variables By default, variables that are declared have the value

    undefined. Trying to evaluate a variable that has not been declared throws an Exception. var first; console.log("Value: " + first); >> Value: undefined console.log("Value: " + second); >> throws ReferenceError exception
  9. Testing equality The == operator is the equality operator, while

    the === operator is known as the identity operator. The equality operator (==) performs type conversions before testing for equality. var first; var second = null; console.log("first: " + first + ", second: " + second); >> first: undefined, second: null console.log(first == second); >> true console.log(first === second); >> false
  10. Testing equality Other unexpected results from type conversions. var foo

    = "012"; console.log(foo == 12); >> true console.log(foo === 12); >> false var bar = null; if (bar) { console.log("bar is true"); } else if (bar == false) { console.log("bar is false"); } else { console.log("????"); } >> ???? // bar evaluates to false, but is not equal to false
  11. Testing truth The values below will evaluate to false. •

    false • undefined • null • 0 • NaN • "" All other values, including all objects evaluate to true when passed to a conditional statement.
  12. Checking types The typeof operator returns a string indicating the

    type of the unevaluated operand. Type Result undefined "undefined" null "object" Boolean "boolean" Number "number" String "string" Host object (provided by the JS environment) Implementation-dependent Function object (implements [[Call]] in ECMA-262 terms) "function" E4X XML object "xml" E4X XMLList object "xml" Any other object "object"
  13. Checking types Examples using the typeof operator. typeof true ===

    'boolean'; typeof 15 === 'number'; typeof "word" === 'string'; typeof undefined === 'undefined'; typeof function(){} === 'function'; typeof [0, 1, 2] === 'object'; // watch out for these typeof null === 'object'; typeof NaN === 'number';
  14. Arrays Arrays can be created in multiple ways and can

    contain multiple datatypes. // these three statements are equivalent var arr = new Array(element0, element1, ..., elementN); var arr = Array(element0, element1, ..., elementN); var arr = [element0, element1, ..., elementN]; // the statements below are valid var foo = [true, 123, "word", ,new Date()]; var bar = new Array("wow", 12.34, null);
  15. Creating arrays Arrays can be created by listing the array’s

    elements, but if only one integer is used, it will be considered the length of the array. var bikes = new Array("trek"); console.log(bikes.length); >> 1 var boats = new Array(13); console.log(boats.length); >> 13 // this notation can be used instead var planes = [13]; console.log(planes.length); >> 1
  16. Arrays Elements that are not defined can be added to

    arrays, and the length of an array can be accessed in multiple ways. var arr = ["one", "two", ,"four"]; console.log(arr[1]); >> two console.log(arr[2]); >> undefined console.log(arr.length); >> 4 console.log(arr["length"]); >> 4
  17. Arrays The in operator returns true if the specified property

    is in the specified object. var power = new Array("ls1", "rb26", "2jz"); console.log(3 in power); >> false console.log(length in power); >> true var power = new Array("ls1", "rb26", "2jz"); console.log(2 in power); >> true // the in operator works on all objects var bike = {make: "Ducati", model: "899 Panigale", year: 2013}; console.log("model" in bike); >> true
  18. Modifying arrays Elements can be added to arrays using the

    index or push method. Using the concat method results in a new array. var arr = [0, 1, 2]; arr[arr.length] = 3; console.log(arr); >> [0, 1, 2, 3] arr.push(4); console.log(arr); >> [0, 1, 2, 3, 4] arr.pop(); console.log(arr); >> [0, 1, 2, 3] var newArr = arr.concat(5, 6); console.log(newArr); >> [0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6]
  19. Sorting arrays By default, the sort method sorts all elements

    alphabetically. var z = [0, 2, 10]; console.log(z.sort()); >> 0,10,2 var numeric_sort = function (a, b) { return a > b ? 1 : a < b ? -1 : 0; }; // using array.sort([compareFunction]) console.log(z.sort(numeric_sort)); >> 0,2,10
  20. Variable scope JavaScript has global and local scopes. A variable

    that is declared outside of a function definition is a global variable, and its value is accessible and modifiable. A variable that is declared inside a function definition is local. JavaScript does not have block scope. if (true) { var foo = "scope"; } console.log(foo); >> scope
  21. Variable scope In cases where a local variable has the

    same name as a global variable, the local variable will be used. var foo = "outside"; (function (){ var foo = "inside"; console.log(foo); })(); >> inside
  22. Variable scope Variables are evaluated as if they were declared

    at the beginning of whatever scope they exist in. In the case below, foo is undefined because the scope is local. var foo = "outside"; (function main (){ console.log(foo); var foo = "inside"; })(); >> undefined
  23. Variable scope If a variable is declared without using the

    var keyword, the variable is automatically made global. (function () { foobar = "hi there"; })(); console.log(foobar); >> hi there Explicitly declaring variables is a better practice because it won’t clutter the global scope.
  24. Function scope JavaScript has function scope and will work it’s

    way down the chain to resolve variables. // running nested anonymous functions (function parents() { var dad = "Pop"; (function kids() { var son = "sonny"; console.log(dad + " and " + son); })(); })(); >> Pop and sonny
  25. Sources • Mozilla Developer Network https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/JavaScript/Guide • Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Javascript •

    WebPlatform.org http://docs.webplatform.org/wiki/javascript • Internet Explorer Dev Center http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ie/d1et7k7c(v=vs.94).aspx • Scope and this in JavaScript http://javascriptplayground.com/blog/2012/04/javascript-variable-scope-this/ • JavaScript: Better and Faster http://www.bcherry.net/talks/js-better-faster • Numerical array sorting in JavaScript http://andrew.hedges.name/blog/2008/08/26/numerical-array-sorting-in-javascript