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Finally Understanding Javascript Closures like the Pros

bricourse
Developer, writer, coffee and cookie lover!!
・3 min read

Short guide to get a better understanding of how JavaScript code works and executes by diving into one of the advanced concept: closures.

According to Mozilla Developer Network (MDN), “A closure is the combination of a function bundled together (enclosed) with references to its surrounding state (the lexical environment).” Simplified, this means that a function inside another function can access the variables from the outer (parent) function.

To better understand closures, take a look at scopes and their execution context.

Here is a simple code snippet:

**var hello = "Hello";**

**function sayHelloWorld() {
var world = "World";
        function wish() {
                var year = "2021";
                console.log(hello + " " + world + " "+ year);
}
wish();
}
sayHelloWorld();**
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Here’s the execution context for this code:

(Nimisha Mukherjee, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Closures are created every time a function is created (at function-creation time). Every closure has three scopes:

  • Local scope (own scope)

  • Outer functions scope

  • Global scope

I’ll modify the above code slightly to demonstrate closure:

**var hello = "Hello";**

**var sayHelloWorld = function() {
var world = "World";
        function wish() {
                var year = "2021";
                console.log(hello + " " + world + " "+ year);
}
return wish;
}
var callFunc = sayHelloWorld();
callFunc();**
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The inner function wish() is returned from the outer function before it's executed. This happens because functions in JavaScript form closures.

  • callFunc holds a reference to the function wish when sayHelloWorld runs

  • wish maintains a reference to its surrounding (lexical) environment where the variable world exists.

Private variables and methods

Natively, JavaScript does not support the creation of private variables and methods. A common and practical use of closure is to emulate private variables and methods and allow data privacy. Methods defined within the closure scope are privileged.

This code snippet captures how closures are commonly written and used in JavaScript:

**var resourceRecord = function(myName, myAddress) {
 var resourceName = myName;
 var resourceAddress = myAddress;
 var accessRight = "HR";
 return {
   changeName: function(updateName, privilege) {
     *//only HR can change the name*
     if(privilege === accessRight ) {
       resourceName = updateName;
       return true;
     } else {
       return false;
     }
   },  
   changeAddress: function(newAddress) {
     *//any associate can change the address*
     resourceAddress = newAddress;          
   },  
   showResourceDetail: function() {
     console.log ("Name:" + resourceName + " ; Address:" + resourceAddress);
   }
 }
}
*//Create first record*
var resourceRecord1 = resourceRecord("Perry","Office");
*//Create second record*
var resourceRecord2 = resourceRecord("Emma","Office");
*//Change the address on the first record*
resourceRecord1.changeAddress("Home");
resourceRecord1.changeName("Perry Berry", "Associate"); *//Output is false as only an HR can change the name*
resourceRecord2.changeName("Emma Freeman", "HR"); *//Output is true as HR changes the name*
resourceRecord1.showResourceDetail(); *//Output - Name:Perry ; Address:Home*
resourceRecord2.showResourceDetail(); *//Output - Name:Emma Freeman ; Address:Office***
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The resource records (resourceRecord1 and resourceRecord2) are independent of one another. Each closure references a different version of the resourceName and resourceAddress variable through its own closure. You can also apply specific rules to how private variables need to be handled—I added a check on who can modify resourceName.

Use closures

Understanding closure is important, as it enables deeper knowledge of how variables and functions relate to one another and how JavaScript code works and executes.

Get the Book: Up to Speed with Javascript in 59 minutes

Additional resources to learn Javascript:

The Complete JavaScript Course 2021: From Zero to Expert

Javascript Tutorial and Projects Course

Reference sites: https://opensource.com/article/21/2/javascript-closures

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