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Flashcards in Javascript Deck (4)
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1

What is a potential pitfall with using typeof bar === "object" to determine if bar is an object? How can this pitfall be avoided?

Null === "object"

if((bar !== null) && (typeof bar === "object"));

2

What is the significance of, and reason for, wrapping the entire content of a JavaScript source file in a function block?

This is an increasingly common practice, employed by many popular JavaScript libraries (jQuery, Node.js, etc.). This technique creates a closure around the entire contents of the file which, perhaps most importantly, creates a private namespace and thereby helps avoid potential name clashes between different JavaScript modules and libraries.

Another feature of this technique is to allow for an easily referenceable (presumably shorter) alias for a global variable. This is often used, for example, in jQuery plugins. jQuery allows you to disable the $ reference to the jQuery namespace, using jQuery.noConflict(). If this has been done, your code can still use $ employing this closure technique, as follows:

(function($) { /* jQuery plugin code referencing $ */ } )(jQuery);

3

What is the significance, and what are the benefits, of including 'use strict' at the beginning of a JavaScript source file?

the short and most important answer here is that use strict is a way to voluntarily enforce stricter parsing and error handling on your JavaScript code at runtime. Code errors that would otherwise have been ignored or would have failed silently will now generate errors or throw exceptions. In general, it is a good practice.

Some of the key benefits of strict mode include:

Makes debugging easier. Code errors that would otherwise have been ignored or would have failed silently will now generate errors or throw exceptions, alerting you sooner to problems in your code and directing you more quickly to their source.
Prevents accidental globals. Without strict mode, assigning a value to an undeclared variable automatically creates a global variable with that name. This is one of the most common errors in JavaScript. In strict mode, attempting to do so throws an error.
Eliminates this coercion. Without strict mode, a reference to a this value of null or undefined is automatically coerced to the global. This can cause many headfakes and pull-out-your-hair kind of bugs. In strict mode, referencing a a this value of null or undefined throws an error.
Disallows duplicate property names or parameter values. Strict mode throws an error when it detects a duplicate named property in an object (e.g., var object = {foo: "bar", foo: "baz"};) or a duplicate named argument for a function (e.g., function foo(val1, val2, val1){}), thereby catching what is almost certainly a bug in your code that you might otherwise have wasted lots of time tracking down.
Makes eval() safer. There are some differences in the way eval() behaves in strict mode and in non-strict mode. Most significantly, in strict mode, variables and functions declared inside of an eval() statement are not created in the containing scope (they are created in the containing scope in non-strict mode, which can also be a common source of problems).
Throws error on invalid usage of delete. The delete operator (used to remove properties from objects) cannot be used on non-configurable properties of the object. Non-strict code will fail silently when an attempt is made to delete a non-configurable property, whereas strict mode will throw an error in such a case.

4

What is NaN? What is its type? How can you reliably test if a value is equal to NaN?

The NaN property represents a value that is “not a number”. This special value results from an operation that could not be performed either because one of the operands was non-numeric (e.g., "abc" / 4), or because the result of the operation is non-numeric (e.g., an attempt to divide by zero).

While this seems straightforward enough, there are a couple of somewhat surprising characteristics of NaN that can result in hair-pulling bugs if one is not aware of them.

For one thing, although NaN means “not a number”, its type is, believe it or not, Number:

console.log(typeof NaN === "number"); // logs "true"
Additionally, NaN compared to anything – even itself! – is false:

console.log(NaN === NaN); // logs "false"
A semi-reliable way to test whether a number is equal to NaN is with the built-in function isNaN(), but even using isNaN() is an imperfect solution.

A better solution would either be to use value !== value, which would only produce true if the value is equal to NaN. Also, ES6 offers a new Number.isNaN() function, which is a different and more reliable than the old global isNaN() function.