Constructors in JavaScript objects

Constructors in JavaScript objects

Can JavaScript classes/objects have constructors? How are they created?

Solutions/Answers:

Solution 1:

Using prototypes:

function Box(color) // Constructor
{
    this.color = color;
}

Box.prototype.getColor = function()
{
    return this.color;
};

Hiding “color” (somewhat resembles a private member variable):

function Box(col)
{
   var color = col;

   this.getColor = function()
   {
       return color;
   };
}

Usage:

var blueBox = new Box("blue");
alert(blueBox.getColor()); // will alert blue

var greenBox = new Box("green");
alert(greenBox.getColor()); // will alert green

Solution 2:

Here’s a template I sometimes use for OOP-similar behavior in JavaScript. As you can see, you can simulate private (both static and instance) members using closures. What new MyClass() will return is an object with only the properties assigned to the this object and in the prototype object of the “class.”

var MyClass = (function () {
    // private static
    var nextId = 1;

    // constructor
    var cls = function () {
        // private
        var id = nextId++;
        var name = 'Unknown';

        // public (this instance only)
        this.get_id = function () { return id; };

        this.get_name = function () { return name; };
        this.set_name = function (value) {
            if (typeof value != 'string')
                throw 'Name must be a string';
            if (value.length < 2 || value.length > 20)
                throw 'Name must be 2-20 characters long.';
            name = value;
        };
    };

    // public static
    cls.get_nextId = function () {
        return nextId;
    };

    // public (shared across instances)
    cls.prototype = {
        announce: function () {
            alert('Hi there! My id is ' + this.get_id() + ' and my name is "' + this.get_name() + '"!\r\n' +
                  'The next fellow\'s id will be ' + MyClass.get_nextId() + '!');
        }
    };

    return cls;
})();

I’ve been asked about inheritance using this pattern, so here goes:

// It's a good idea to have a utility class to wire up inheritance.
function inherit(cls, superCls) {
    // We use an intermediary empty constructor to create an
    // inheritance chain, because using the super class' constructor
    // might have side effects.
    var construct = function () {};
    construct.prototype = superCls.prototype;
    cls.prototype = new construct;
    cls.prototype.constructor = cls;
    cls.super = superCls;
}

var MyChildClass = (function () {
    // constructor
    var cls = function (surName) {
        // Call super constructor on this instance (any arguments
        // to the constructor would go after "this" in call(…)).
        this.constructor.super.call(this);

        // Shadowing instance properties is a little bit less
        // intuitive, but can be done:
        var getName = this.get_name;

        // public (this instance only)
        this.get_name = function () {
            return getName.call(this) + ' ' + surName;
        };
    };
    inherit(cls, MyClass); // <-- important!

    return cls;
})();

And an example to use it all:

var bob = new MyClass();
bob.set_name('Bob');
bob.announce(); // id is 1, name shows as "Bob"

var john = new MyChildClass('Doe');
john.set_name('John');
john.announce(); // id is 2, name shows as "John Doe"

alert(john instanceof MyClass); // true

As you can see, the classes correctly interact with each other (they share the static id from MyClass, the announce method uses the correct get_name method, etc.)

One thing to note is the need to shadow instance properties. You can actually make the inherit function go through all instance properties (using hasOwnProperty) that are functions, and automagically add a super_<method name> property. This would let you call this.super_get_name() instead of storing it in a temporary value and calling it bound using call.

For methods on the prototype you don’t need to worry about the above though, if you want to access the super class’ prototype methods, you can just call this.constructor.super.prototype.methodName. If you want to make it less verbose you can of course add convenience properties. 🙂

Solution 3:

It seems to me most of you are giving example of getters and setters not a constructor, ie http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructor_(object-oriented_programming).

lunched-dan was closer but the example didn’t work in jsFiddle.

This example creates a private constructor function that only runs during the creation of the object.

var color = 'black';

function Box()
{
   // private property
   var color = '';

   // private constructor 
   var __construct = function() {
       alert("Object Created.");
       color = 'green';
   }()

   // getter
   this.getColor = function() {
       return color;
   }

   // setter
   this.setColor = function(data) {
       color = data;
   }

}

var b = new Box();

alert(b.getColor()); // should be green

b.setColor('orange');

alert(b.getColor()); // should be orange

alert(color); // should be black

If you wanted to assign public properties then the constructor could be defined as such:

var color = 'black';

function Box()
{
   // public property
   this.color = '';

   // private constructor 
   var __construct = function(that) {
       alert("Object Created.");
       that.color = 'green';
   }(this)

   // getter
   this.getColor = function() {
       return this.color;
   }

   // setter
   this.setColor = function(color) {
       this.color = color;
   }

}

var b = new Box();

alert(b.getColor()); // should be green

b.setColor('orange'); 

alert(b.getColor()); // should be orange

alert(color); // should be black

Solution 4:

So what is the point of “constructor”
property? Cannot figure out where it
could be useful, any ideas?

The point of the constructor property is to provide some way of pretending JavaScript has classes. One of the things you cannot usefully do is change an object’s constructor after it’s been created. It’s complicated.

I wrote a fairly comprehensive piece on it a few years ago: http://joost.zeekat.nl/constructors-considered-mildly-confusing.html

Solution 5:

Example here: http://jsfiddle.net/FZ5nC/

Try this template:

<script>
//============================================================
// Register Namespace
//------------------------------------------------------------
var Name = Name||{};
Name.Space = Name.Space||{};

//============================================================
// Constructor - MUST BE AT TOP OF FILE
//------------------------------------------------------------
Name.Space.ClassName = function Name_Space_ClassName(){}

//============================================================
// Member Functions & Variables
//------------------------------------------------------------
Name.Space.ClassName.prototype = {
  v1: null
 ,v2: null
 ,f1: function Name_Space_ClassName_f1(){}
}

//============================================================
// Static Variables
//------------------------------------------------------------
Name.Space.ClassName.staticVar = 0;

//============================================================
// Static Functions
//------------------------------------------------------------
Name.Space.ClassName.staticFunc = function Name_Space_ClassName_staticFunc(){
}
</script>

You must adjust your namespace if you are defining a static class:

<script>
//============================================================
// Register Namespace
//------------------------------------------------------------
var Shape = Shape||{};
Shape.Rectangle = Shape.Rectangle||{};
// In previous example, Rectangle was defined in the constructor.
</script>

Example class:

<script>
//============================================================
// Register Namespace
//------------------------------------------------------------
var Shape = Shape||{};

//============================================================
// Constructor - MUST BE AT TOP OF FILE
//------------------------------------------------------------
Shape.Rectangle = function Shape_Rectangle(width, height, color){
    this.Width = width;
    this.Height = height;
    this.Color = color;
}

//============================================================
// Member Functions & Variables
//------------------------------------------------------------
Shape.Rectangle.prototype = {
  Width: null
 ,Height: null
 ,Color: null
 ,Draw: function Shape_Rectangle_Draw(canvasId, x, y){
    var canvas = document.getElementById(canvasId);
    var context = canvas.getContext("2d");
    context.fillStyle = this.Color;
    context.fillRect(x, y, this.Width, this.Height);
 }
}

//============================================================
// Static Variables
//------------------------------------------------------------
Shape.Rectangle.Sides = 4;

//============================================================
// Static Functions
//------------------------------------------------------------
Shape.Rectangle.CreateSmallBlue = function Shape_Rectangle_CreateSmallBlue(){
    return new Shape.Rectangle(5,8,'#0000ff');
}
Shape.Rectangle.CreateBigRed = function Shape_Rectangle_CreateBigRed(){
    return new Shape.Rectangle(50,25,'#ff0000');
}
</script>

Example instantiation:

<canvas id="painting" width="500" height="500"></canvas>
<script>
alert("A rectangle has "+Shape.Rectangle.Sides+" sides.");

var r1 = new Shape.Rectangle(16, 12, "#aa22cc");
r1.Draw("painting",0, 20);

var r2 = Shape.Rectangle.CreateSmallBlue();
r2.Draw("painting", 0, 0);

Shape.Rectangle.CreateBigRed().Draw("painting", 10, 0);
</script>

Notice functions are defined as A.B = function A_B(). This is to make your script easier to debug. Open Chrome’s Inspect Element panel, run this script, and expand the debug backtrace:

<script>
//============================================================
// Register Namespace
//------------------------------------------------------------
var Fail = Fail||{};

//============================================================
// Static Functions
//------------------------------------------------------------
Fail.Test = function Fail_Test(){
    A.Func.That.Does.Not.Exist();
}

Fail.Test();
</script>

Solution 6:

This is a constructor:

function MyClass() {}

When you do

var myObj = new MyClass();

MyClass is executed, and a new object is returned of that class.