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What is the scope of variables in javascript? Do they have the same scope inside as opposed to outside a function? Or does it even matter? Also, where are the variables stored if they are defined globally?

Answered By: Triptych ( 572)

I think about the best I can do is give you a bunch of examples to study. Javascript programmers are practically ranked by how well they understand scope. It can at times be quite counter-intuitive.

// a globally-scoped variable
var a=1;

// global scope
function one(){

// local scope
function two(a){

// local scope again
function three(){
  var a = 3;

// Intermediate: no such thing as block scope in javascript
function four(){
        var a=4;

    alert(a); // alerts '4', not the global value of '1'

// Intermediate: object properties
function Five(){
    this.a = 5;

// Advanced: closure
var six = function(){
    var foo = 6;

    return function(){
        // javascript "closure" means I have access to foo in here, 
        // because it is defined in the function in which I was defined.

// Advanced: prototype-based scope resolution
function Seven(){
  this.a = 7;

// [object] loses to [object].property in the scope chain
Seven.prototype.a = -1; // won't get reached, because 'a' is set in the constructor above.
Seven.prototype.b = 8; // Will get reached, even though 'b' is NOT set in the constructor.

// These will print 1-8
alert(new Five().a);
alert(new Seven().a);
alert(new Seven().b);

I want to toggle a variable between 0 and 1. If it's 0 I want to set it to 1, else if it's 1 I want to set it to 0.

This is such a fundamental operation that I write so often I'd like to investigate the shortest, clearest possible way of doing it. Here's my best so far:

v = (v == 0 ? 1 : 0);

Can you improve on this?

Edit: the question is asking how to write the above statement in the fewest characters while retaining clarity - how is this 'not a real question'? This wasn't intended to be a code-golf exercise, though some interesting answers have come out of people approaching it as golf - it's nice to see golf being used in a constructive and thought-provoking manner.

Answered By: Guffa ( 492)

You can simply use:

v = 1 - v;

This of course assumes that the variable is initialised properly, i.e. that it only has the value 0 or 1.

Another method that is shorter but uses a less common operator:

v ^= 1;


To be clear; I never approached this question as code golf, just to find a short way of doing the task without using any obscuring tricks like side effects of operators.


Why does Java have transient variables?

Answered By: coobird ( 264)

The transient keyword in Java is used to indicate that a field should not be serialized.

From the Java Language Specification, Second Edition, Section transient Fields:

Variables may be marked transient to indicate that they are not part of the persistent state of an object.

For example, you may have fields that are derived from other fields, and should only be done so programmatically, rather than having the state be persisted via serialization.

Here's a GalleryImage class which contains an image and a thumbnail derived from the image:

class GalleryImage implements Serializable
    private Image image;
    private transient Image thumbnailImage;

    private void generateThumbnail()
        // Generate thumbnail.

    private void readObject(ObjectInputStream inputStream)
            throws IOException, ClassNotFoundException

In this example, the thumbnailImage is a thumbnail image that is generated by invoking the generateThumbnail method.

The thumbnailImage field is marked as transient, so only the original image is serialized rather than persisting both the original image and the thumbnail image. This means that less storage would be needed to save the serialized object. (Of course, this may or may not be desirable depending on the requirements of the system -- this is just an example.)

At the time of deserialization, the readObject method is called to perform any operations necessary to restore the state of the object back to the state at which the serialization occurred. Here, the thumbnail needs to be generated, so the readObject method is overrided so that the thumbnail will be generated by calling the generateThumbnail method.

For additional information, the Discover the secrets of the Java Serialization API article (which was originally available on the Sun Developer Network) has a section which discusses the use of and presents a scenario where the transient keyword is used to prevent serialization of certain fields.

Possible Duplicate:
Detecting an undefined object property in JavaScript

I wanted to check whether the variable is defined or not.


alert( x );

Throws a not defined error
How can I catch this error?

Answered By: Natrium ( 455)

in JavaScript null is an object. There's another value for things that don't exist, undefined. The DOM returns null for almost all cases where it fails to find some structure in the document, but in JavaScript itself undefined is the value used.

Second, no, they are not directly equivalent. If you really want to check for null, do:

if (null == yourvar) // with casting
if (null === yourvar) // without casting

If you want to check if a variable exist

if (typeof yourvar != 'undefined') // Any scope
if (window['varname'] != undefined) // Global scope
if (window['varname'] != void 0) // Old browsers

If you know the variable exists but don't know if there's any value stored in it:

if (undefined != yourvar)
if (void 0 != yourvar) // for older browsers

If you want to know if a member exists independent of whether it has been assigned a value or not:

if ('membername' in object) // With inheritance
if (object.hasOwnProperty('membername')) // Without inheritance

If you want to to know whether a variable autocasts to true:


I probably forgot some method as well...



Possible Duplicate:
Why are we using i as a counter in loops

I know this might seem like an absolutely silly question to ask, yet I am too curious not to ask...

Why did "i" and "j" become THE variables to use as counters in most control structures?

Although common sense tells me they are just like X, which is used for representing unknown values, I can't help to think that there must be a reason why everyone gets taught the same way over and over again.

Is it because it is actually recommended for best practices, or a convention, or does it have some obscure reason behind it?

Just in case, I know I can give them whatever name I want and that variables names are not relevant.

Answered By: Zack ( 331)

It comes ultimately from mathematics: the summation notation traditionally uses i for the first index, j for the second, and so on. Example (from

\sum_{i=1}^{n} i = \frac{n^2 + n}{2}

It's also used that way for collections of things, like if you have a bunch of variables x1, x2, ... xn, then an arbitrary one will be known as xi.

As for why it's that way, I imagine SLaks is correct and it's because I is the first letter in Index.