Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bare Minimum JS - Part 2 - Scoping

Scoping Things Out

In our last post, we talked about ways to create objects in order to keep our code tidy and organized.  The next concept we're going to explore is also a way to keep our code tidy and out of the way of each other; Closures and Scoping.

The Old and Busted way

Here's a common story.  You start out with just a couple pages on your website.  You don't see the harm in just throwing your javascript on each page, maybe even (<gasp>) directly calling javascript from html event attributes.  But, quickly, you've added a bunch of new objects to the global scope and if your application ever gets much more complicated your going to end up having a hard time finding what functions are firing and debugging code paths because of the lack of structure.


First off, shame on you for putting javascript in an HTML attribute.  Somebody has to make a value judgement at some point, and for me, it's javascript event handlers on HTML tags.  Sorry, had to be said.
The New Hotness

Here is a much more stable way to encapsulate your page logic using a "closure" technique.

Whoa.  Settle down.  I know, it's a little bit more complicated.  Let's start with the toughest thing on the page; the self executing function we wrapped everything in.

Breaking it Down

All we are doing is creating a function and immediately executing it.  The main reason we would want to wrap our code like this is to keep it out of the global scope and therefore more modular and tidy.  After running this function, we've created a new page1 object and subscribed to the document.ready event with the page1.ready handler all without any artifacts in the global scope.  Plus, we get a nice way to represent the logic on our page in an object oriented way.

The "use strict" is kind of esoteric, but it brings some helpful checks for some of the quirks of javascript.  I won't go too much into detail here, but check out John Resig's great article on strict mode.

Next, we use the handy dandy object initialization syntax we talked about in our last post to group together the functionality for page1.  Also, in the setupEvents() method I show an example of how to subscribe to events on elements in a more isolated way than putting functions in html attributes.

Next Time

Classes and scoping can really start to make your Javascript heavy projects much easier to handle.  But, it gets even better when we start to introduce another concept called the Module Export pattern.  Stay tuned, it's gonna be good for you, I promise.

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