More JavaScript

Apr 21, 2008

Browser support
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JavaScript works on almost all browsers Internet Explorer uses JScript (referred to in menus as “Active Scripting”), which is Microsoft’s dialect of JavaScript Older browsers don’t support some of the newer features of JavaScript

We will assume modern browser support See

Enabling and disabling JavaScript:


What you can’t do

To protect the visitor to your web pages, you can’t:

Read or write user files

However, JScript on IE allows ASP scripting, which is how the very destructive JS.Gigger.A@mm worm spreads To turn off active scripting in Outlook Express, see

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Execute any other programs Connect to any other computer, except to download another HTML page or to send e-mail Determine what other sites the user has visited Open a very small (less than 100px by 100px) window or an offscreen window (except in IE)


Mozilla/Netscape has much better debugging tools than IE


Select Tools => Web Development => JavaScript console Select Tasks => Tools => JavaScript console Select Communicator => Tools => JavaScript console Type javascript: in the location bar and press Enter Go to the Preferences... dialog and look for something like Web content => Show scripting error alerts

Netscape 6:

Netscape 4:

Any Mozilla or Netscape:

Internet Explorer:

After debugging, test your program in IE

IE is the most popular browser

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In JavaScript, all numbers are floating point Special predefined numbers:

Infinity, Number.POSITIVE_INFINITY -- the result of dividing a positive number by zero Number.NEGATIVE_INFINITY -- the result of dividing a negative number by zero NaN, Number.NaN (Not a Number) -- the result of dividing 0/0
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NaN is unequal to everything, even itself There is a global isNaN() function

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Number.MAX_VALUE -- the largest representable number Number.MIN_VALUE -- the smallest (closest to zero) representable number


Strings and characters
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In JavaScript, string is a primitive type Strings are surrounded by either single quotes or double quotes There is no “character” type Special characters are: \0 \b \f \n \r \t NUL backspace form feed newline carriage return horizontal tab \v vertical tab \' single quote \" double quote \\ backslash \xDD Unicode hex DD \xDDDD Unicode hex DDDD

Some string methods


Returns the nth character of a string Concatenates the string arguments to the recipient string Returns the position of the first character of substring in the recipient string, or -1 if not found Returns the position of the first character of substring in the given string that begins at or after position start, or -1 if not found Like indexOf, but searching starts from the end of the recipient string

concat(string1, ..., stringN)


indexOf(substring, start)

lastIndexOf(substring), lastIndexOf(substring, start)

More string methods

match(regexp)  Returns an array containing the results, or null if no match is found  On a successful match:
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If g (global) is set, the array contains the matched substrings If g is not set:

Array location 0 contains the matched text  Locations 1... contain text matched by parenthesized groups  The array index property gives the first matched position replace(regexp, replacement)  Returns a new string that has the matched substring replaced with the replacement search(regexp)  Returns the position of the first matched substring in the given


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The boolean values are true and false When converted to a boolean, the following values are also false:
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0 "0" and '0' The empty string, '' or "" undefined null NaN


undefined and null
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There are special values undefined and null undefined is the only value of its “type”

This is the value of a variable that has been declared but not defined, or an object property that does not exist void is an operator that, applied to any value, returns the value undefined

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null is an “object” with no properties null and undefined are == but not ===



As in C and Java, there are no “true” multidimensional arrays
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However, an array can contain arrays The syntax for array reference is as in C and Java var var var var a = [ ["red", 255], ["green", 128] ]; b = a[1][0]; // b is now "green" c = a[1]; // c is now ["green", 128] d = c[1]; // d is now 128



Determining types

The unary operator typeof returns one of the following strings: "number", "string", "boolean", "object", "undefined", and "function"
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typeof null is "object" If myArray is an array, typeof myArray is "object" myObject instanceof Constructor
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To distinguish between different types of objects,

The Constructor should be an object that is a constructor function It is an error if the right-hand side is not an object at all

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myObject.constructor == Constructor myObject.toString() == "ConstructorName"


Wrappers and conversions

JavaScript has “wrapper” objects for when a primitive value must be treated as an object
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var s = new String("Hello"); // s is now a String var n = new Number(5); // n is now a Number var b = new Boolean(true); // b is now a Boolean Because JavaScript does automatic conversions as needed, wrapper objects are hardly ever needed var s = x + ""; // s is now a string var n = x + 0; // n is now a number var b = !!x; // b is now a boolean Because JavaScript does automatic conversions as needed, explicit conversions are hardly ever needed

JavaScript has no “casts,” but conversions can be forced
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Every variable is a property of an object When JavaScript starts, it creates a global object In client-side JavaScript, the window is the global object
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It can be referred to as window or as this The “built-in” variables and methods are defined here For example, one frame can refer to another frame with code such as parent.frames[1]

There can be more than one “global” object

Local variables in a function are properties of a special call object

HTML names in JavaScript

In HTML the window is the global object
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It is assumed that all variables are properties of this object, or of some object descended from this object The most important window property is document

HTML form elements can be referred to by
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Every HTML form element has a name attribute
The name can be used in place of the array reference Hence, if
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<form name="myForm"> <input type="button" name="myButton" ...> Then instead of document.forms[0].elements[0] you can say document.myForm.myButton

More about with

with (object) statement ; uses the object as the default prefix for variables in the statement As noted in an earlier lecture, one book hints at mysterious problems resulting from the use of with, and recommends against ever using it It turns out that there are two problems:
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with is difficult to optimize, hence may be inefficient More importantly, variable declarations and function definitions have odd and counterintuitive behavior
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The problem appears to be determining if the prefix is used Other types of statements are fine


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In Java, methods are associated with objects In JavaScript, a function is an object Functions can be recursive:

function factorial(n) { if (n <= 1) return 1; else return n * factorial(n - 1); } function hypotenuse(a, b) { function square(x) { return x * x; } return Math.sqrt(square(a) + square(b)); }

Functions can be nested:

The Function() constructor

Since functions are objects, they have a constructor:
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Function(arg1, arg2, ..., argN, body) All the arguments to the constructor are strings Example: var f = new Function("x", "y", "return x * y;"); But you can assign it to a variable and use that name The name can be used to call the function as usual

Notice that the function has no name
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You can construct functions dynamically in JavaScript (they are automatically compiled)

However, compilation is computationally expensive

Functions defined in this way are always global

Function literals

As we just saw, a function can be defined by means of a constructor:

var f = new Function("x", "y", "return x * y;");

A function can be written literally, as in the following example:
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var f = function(x, y) { return x * y; } This function is not necessarily global var f = function fact(n) { if (n <= 1) return n; else return n * fact(n - 1) ; }; The name does not persist after the function is created

To write a recursive literal function, give it a name:
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Function names

The “name” of a function is just the variable that holds the function
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var var var var var var

square = function(x) { return x * x; }; a = square(4); // a now holds 16 b = square; // b now holds square c = b(5); // c now holds 25 d = [ b ]; // d is an array e = d[0](6); // e now holds 36


The call object

When a function is called, a new call object is created

The properties of the call object include:
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The function parameters Local variables declared with the var statement The arguments object



The arguments object is like an array
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arguments[n] is a synonym for the nth argument arguments.length is the number of arguments that the function was called with

function.length is the number of arguments it was defined with arguments.length, unlike function.length, is available only within the function

arguments.callee is the function itself


Example uses of arguments

function max() { var m = Number.NEGATIVE_INFINITY; for (var i = 0; i < arguments.length; i++) { if (arguments[i] > m) m = arguments[i]; } return m; } function(n) { if (n <= 1) return 1; return n * arguments.callee(n - 1); }


When a function is a property of an object, we call it a “method”

A method can be invoked by either of call(object, arg1, ..., argN) or apply(object, [arg1, ..., argN]) call and apply are defined for all functions
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call takes any number of arguments apply takes an array of arguments

Both allow you to invoke a function as if it were a method of some other object, object Inside the function, the keyword this refers to the object

Properties of functions

Since a function is an object, you can add properties to it

Function properties are often a good alternative to global variables Example: uniqueInteger.counter = 0; function uniqueInteger() { return uniqueInteger.counter++; } Function properties are a bit like static variables in Java


The End