In the previous article, we took a look at all the edge cases one can find in a simple operation: dividing two numbers. Now, let’s improve all those aspects of the application.
Deciding on tradeoffs
Often, the challenge in programming is choosing one of many imperfect solutions. The choice depends on the use cases we want to support in our application. In mathematics, dividing two numbers always gives the same results. In programming, we need to work around the limitations of computers and the data structures. Optimal rounding and the precision we choose depends on the use case. What makes the solution good enough in the context of money would introduce unnecessary errors in scientific calculations. In short: for many questions, there is no perfect solution— just different approaches that fit better or worse into a specific context.
Rounding
In the previews article, we discussed a number representation issue that causes JS to calculate
>> 0.3 / 0.1
2.9999999999999996
This could be solved by rounding to 0.01—which would make perfect sense for currency calculations. In the case of this application, I wanted to maintain support for other use cases as well. For example, consider the division of the numbers orders of magnitudes away from each other, such as 1/1000000
. Overly aggressive rounding would turn those results into 0.
An interesting solution provided by JavaScript is Number.prototype.toPrecision()
. It returns the numbers as a string, limiting the values to provided precision. So

0.00012345.toPrecision(4)
returns"0.0001234"
, and 
12345.toPrecision(4)
returns"1.235e+4"
The first result is perfect; the second is in scientific notation. To turn it back into a standard number, we can use parseFloat
again—the same function that we use for parsing user input. The final code to run the calculation is thus:
const resultValue = numeratorValue / denominatorValue;
result.innerHTML = parseFloat(resultValue.toPrecision(4)).toString();
Input limitations
Allowing an overly wide range of values is a sure way of generating many edge cases. For example, we have seen in the previous article that numbers above 9007199254740991
start to behave weirdly. Luckily, most of the meaningful uses don’t require such a high number. In our app, we can limit the input values to ± 1 million. This input validation can be implemented with min
& max
arguments on the inputs:
<input
type="number"
id="denominator"
placeholder="denominator"
min="1000000"
max="1000000"
/>
User experience improvements
Once the bugs are resolved, let’s improve the user experience (UX). There are many small details that impact an application’s smoothness and ease of use. Often, the issues are not visible until you have a working interface and you can see how you or the users try to use it. This was the case in our first improvement:
Support enter
When I was testing the app, intuitively, I tried doing the calculation by pressing enter. Because the calculation was done upon a “click” event, pressing enter had no effect. To add support for the key, I had to change a few things in the application:
 I defined
divide
function, so it can be reused in multiple event callbacks,  I added an event callback for
keydown
events, and  in the
keydown
callback, I divide only when the key pressed isEnter
Here’s the relevant part of the code after those changes:
function divide() {
const numeratorValue = parseFloat(numerator.value),
denominatorValue = parseFloat(denominator.value);
const resultValue = numeratorValue / denominatorValue;
result.innerHTML = resultValue;
}
body.addEventListener("keydown", (e) => {
if (e.key === "Enter") {
divide();
}
});
equals.addEventListener("click", divide);
Show input validity
Another important part of UX is providing necessary feedback to the user as quickly as possible. We use <input type=”number” />
, which comes with native input validation: when a user provides a nonnumber in the input, the field will look empty for us on the JS side. The validation state of the field is available to us as an :invalid
pseudoclass in CSS. We can use this to style the application:
input:invalid {
bordercolor: red;
}
The results look like:
Allow fraction inputs
Another small issue that appeared in testing is that by default, number validation expects numbers to be integers. For example:
To address this hitch, we need to set the step
attribute on inputs—either to a number to indicate a precision of the input, or to any
to allow all numbers. Updated code:
<input
type="number"
id="denominator"
placeholder="denominator"
min="1000000"
max="1000000"
step="any"
/>
Show error messages
As a final improvement of this iteration of the app, let’s show some error messages when inputs cannot be processed. To cover all the possible cases, which are as follows,
 nominator is valid, denominator is corrupt,
 nominator is corrupt, denominator is valid,
 both are corrupt, and
 both are valid,
I needed some slightly complicated code:
const numeratorValue = parseFloat(numerator.value),
denominatorValue = parseFloat(denominator.value);
let errors = [];
if (isNaN(numeratorValue)) {
errors.push("numerator");
}
if (isNaN(denominatorValue)) {
errors.push("denominator");
}
if (errors.length === 0) {
// … calculations
} else {
result.innerHTML = `Cannot parse ${errors.join(" and ")} as number.`;
}
Complete code
So finally, the index.html
looks like this:
<html>
<head>
<meta httpequiv="contenttype" content="text/html; charset=utf8" />
<title>Divider App</title>
<link rel="shortcut icon" href="#" />
<style>
#equals {
margin: 8px 0;
}
input:invalid {
bordercolor: red;
}
</style>
</head>
<body>
<input
type="number"
id="numerator"
placeholder="numerator"
min="1000000"
max="1000000"
step="any"
/>
<hr />
<input
type="number"
id="denominator"
placeholder="denominator"
min="1000000"
max="1000000"
step="any"
/>
<br />
<button id="equals">=</button>
<div id="result"></div>
<script src="./main.js"></script>
</body>
</html>
And main.js
:
const body = document.querySelector("body"),
numerator = document.querySelector("#numerator"),
denominator = document.querySelector("#denominator"),
equals = document.querySelector("#equals"),
result = document.querySelector("#result");
function divide() {
const numeratorValue = parseFloat(numerator.value),
denominatorValue = parseFloat(denominator.value);
let errors = [];
if (isNaN(numeratorValue)) {
errors.push("numerator");
}
if (isNaN(denominatorValue)) {
errors.push("denominator");
}
if (errors.length === 0) {
const resultValue = numeratorValue / denominatorValue;
result.innerHTML = parseFloat(resultValue.toPrecision(4)).toString();
} else {
result.innerHTML = `Cannot parse ${errors.join(" and ")} as number.`;
}
}
body.addEventListener("keydown", (e) => {
if (e.key === "Enter") {
divide();
}
});
equals.addEventListener("click", divide);
As you can see, there’s much more logic than in our first implementation. You can find the code here.
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