Javascript Patterns & Practices

My previous post on Javascript gave an insight into using the language in a more structured manner than you may

have been used to in the past. I’m going to talk about a few more methods which I use a lot, and that help me keep

my JS workable.

Pattern

Last time, I talked about the Object Literal pattern. If it helps, you can think about this as if it were a C#

static class; you don’t need to instantiate it, it can have state, but it is application-wide. I will typically use

Object Literal as a kind of “manager”, which controls what happens on a page, from a function which fires onload,

to functions which get triggered on button clicks. 

In other places, such as complex user interfaces, I will typically need “components”, which wrap up a lot of

functionality and may be used multiple times within a page. An example of this might be a date picker control. For

these components, I need to hold state, and so I need the equivalent of a standard C# class.

function DatePicker(date) {<br><br>	if(date) {<br>		this.initial = date;<br>	} else {<br>		this.initial = new Date();<br>	}<br><br>	this.show = function(date) {<br>		alert(this.initial);<br>	}<br>}<br><br>var startDatePicker = new DatePicker();<br>var endDatePicker = new DatePicker(new Date('Jan 1, 2009'));<br><br>startDatePicker.show();<br>endDatePicker.show();

In this example, startDatePicker gets instantiated with a default date, but endDatePicker gets a different date

passed in its “constructor”. You can see that both objects retain their own state when the show() functions get

called and different dates are alerted.

Practise

You can do faux-namespaces in Javascript as well as faux-classes. I use them to package up related code and

partition it, much as you might do with namespacing in other languages. There are a number of different ways of

providing this functionality, and here’s one which is incredibly simple:

var NAMESPACE = {};<br>NAMESPACE.utils = {};<br>NAMESPACE.interface = {}; // other namespaces<br><br>NAMESPACE.utils.fixIE = function() {<br>// code<br>}<br><br>NAMESPACE.utils.fixIE();

Other ways of organising your
javascript code can be pulled directly from C# best-practises, such as one-class-

per-file. Another beneficial approach is to avoid embedding your javascript code in your HTML. Code like this:

<a href="/javascriptrequired.aspx" id="showPicker" onclick="showDatePicker();">Pick Date</a>

Can often be easier to maintain when written “unobtrusively”, with the following in a linked JS file:

var document.getElementById('showPicker').onclick = showDatePicker;

And now this in your HTML:

<a href="/javascriptrequired.aspx" id="showPicker" &gtPick Date</a>

This keeps your javascript confined to .js files and out of the HTML, which is generally a cleaner approach.

Further Reading

You can continue to develop well by unit testing your javascript and documenting it fully. You can also check it for errors and then compress it for deployment. Javascript is an important tool in your arsenal; use it well!

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