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Bipon Biswas
Bipon Biswas

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Functions and callbacks

Let’s see how to declare a function and a callback.

Functions

There are two ways to declare a function.

1 — Standard function declaration 👀

We’ve seen that functions can be declared using this syntax:

function functionName(parameters) {
// code to be executed
}

A function declared this way can be called like this:

functionName(parameters);

Notice that we do not add a semicolon at the end of a function declaration. Semicolons are used to separate executable JavaScript statements, and a function declaration is not an executable statement.

Here is an example:

function sum(a, b) {
// this function returns a result
return (a + b);
}
function displayInPage(message, value) {
// this function does not return anything
document.body.innerHTML += message + value + "<br>";
}
var result = sum(3, 4);
displayInPage("Result: ", result);
// we could have written this
displayInPage("Result: ", sum(10, 15));

Output

Result: 7
Result: 25

In the above example, the sum function returns a value, and the displayInPage function does not return anything.

2 — Use a function expression 👀

A JavaScript function can also be defined using an expression that can be stored in a variable. Then, the variable can be used as a function:

Here is a typical example:

var sum = function(a, b) {
return (a + b);
};
var displayInPage = function(message, value) {
// this function does not return anything
document.body.innerHTML += message + value + "<br>";
};
var result = sum(3, 4);
displayInPage("Result: ", result);
// we could have written this
displayInPage("Result: ", sum(10, 15));

Output

Result: 7
Result: 25

Notice how the sum and displayInPage functions have been declared. We used a variable to store the function expression, then we can call the functions using the variable name. And we added a semicolon at the end, since we executed a JavaScript instruction, giving a value to a variable.

The “function expression” is an “anonymous function”, a function without a name, that represents a value that can be assigned to a variable. Then, the variable can be used to execute the function.

We say that functions are “first class objects” which can be manipulated like any other object/value in JavaScript.

This means that functions can also be used as parameters to other functions. In this case they are called “callbacks”.

Callbacks

Indeed, as functions are first-class objects, we can pass a function as an argument, as a parameter to another function and later execute that passed-in function or even return it to be executed later. When we do this, we talk about callback functions in JavaScript: a function passed to another function, and executed inside the function we called.

All the examples of event listeners that you’ve seen used callback functions. Here is another one that registers mouse click listeners on the window object (the window objects represent the whole HTML document):

// Add a click event listener on the whole document
// the testClick function is a callback:
// a function called by the browser when a click event is detected
window.addEventListener("click", testClick);
function testClick(event) {
document.body.innerHTML += "WOW! Button clicked<br>";
}
// We could have written this, with the body of the callback as an argument of the addEventListener function
window.addEventListener("click", function (evt) {
document.body.innerHTML += "WOW! Button clicked version 2<br>";
});

Output:

WOW! Button clicked
WOW! Button clicked version 2

In this case, the testClick function is passed as a parameter to the addEventListener method/function.

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