What should every JavaScript programmer know? [closed]

What should every JavaScript programmer know? [closed]

Is there a set of things that every JavaScript programmer should know to be able to say “I know JavaScript”?

Solutions/Answers:

Solution 1:

Not jQuery. Not YUI. Not (etc. etc.)

Frameworks may be useful, but they are often hiding the sometimes-ugly details of how JavaScript and the DOM actually work from you. If your aim is to be able to say “I know JavaScript”, then investing a lot of time in a framework is opposed to that.

Here are some JavaScript language features that you should know to grok what it’s doing and not get caught out, but which aren’t immediately obvious to many people:

  • That object.prop and object['prop'] are the same thing (so can you please stop using eval, thanks); that object properties are always strings (even for arrays); what forin is for (and what it isn’t).

  • Property-sniffing; what undefined is (and why it smells); why the seemingly-little-known in operator is beneficial and different from typeof/undefined checks; hasOwnProperty; the purpose of delete.

  • That the Number datatype is really a float; the language-independent difficulties of using floats; avoiding the parseInt octal trap.

  • Nested function scoping; the necessity of using var in the scope you want to avoid accidental globals; how scopes can be used for closures; the closure loop problem.

  • How global variables and window properties collide; how global variables and document elements shouldn’t collide but do in IE; the necessity of using var in global scope too to avoid this.

  • How the function statement acts to ‘hoist’ a definition before code preceding it; the difference between function statements and function expressions; why named function expressions should not be used.

  • How constructor functions, the prototype property and the new operator really work; methods of exploiting this to create the normal class/subclass/instance system you actually wanted; when you might want to use closure-based objects instead of prototyping. (Most JS tutorial material is absolutely terrible on this; it took me years to get it straight in my head.)

  • How this is determined at call-time, not bound; how consequently method-passing doesn’t work like you expect from other languages; how closures or Function#bind may be used to get around that.

  • Other ECMAScript Fifth Edition features like indexOf, forEach and the functional-programming methods on Array; how to fix up older browsers to ensure you can use them; using them with inline anonymous function expressions to get compact, readable code.

  • The flow of control between the browser and user code; synchronous and asynchronous execution; events that fire inside the flow of control (eg. focus) vs. events and timeouts that occur when control returns; how calling a supposedly-synchronous builtin like alert can end up causing potentially-disastrous re-entrancy.

  • How cross-window scripting affects instanceof; how cross-window scripting affects the control flow across different documents; how postMessage will hopefully fix this.

See this answer regarding the last two items.

Most of all, you should be viewing JavaScript critically, acknowledging that it is for historical reasons an imperfect language (even more than most languages), and avoiding its worst troublespots. Crockford’s work on this front is definitely worth reading (although I don’t 100% agree with him on which the “Good Parts” are).

Solution 2:

That it can be disabled.

Solution 3:

Understanding the stuff written in Crockford’s Javascript: The Good Parts is a pretty good assumption that a person is a decent JS programmer.

You can pretty much know how to use a good library like JQuery and still not know the hidden parts of Javascript.

Another note is Debugging tools on various browsers. A JS programmer should know how to debug his code in different browsers.

Oh! And knowing JSLint will totally hurt your feelings!!

Solution 4:

If you want to be a true JavaScript ninja, you should know the answers to every question in the Perfection kills JavaScript Quiz.

An example to whet your appetite:

(function f(f){ 
  return typeof f(); 
})(function(){ return 1; });

What does this expression return?

  • “number”
  • “undefined”
  • “function”
  • Error

Solution 5:

You don’t know JavaScript if you don’t know:

  1. Closures
  2. Prototype-based inheritance
  3. The module pattern
  4. The W3C-DOM
  5. How events work

Solution 6:

..that javascript is not java 🙂

Many, many people starting with website development have told me javascript is just simple java!