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Cover image for βœ”||🀒 Commit or Vomit | Switch(true)
 🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

Posted on • Updated on

βœ”||🀒 Commit or Vomit | Switch(true)

In my recent post I questioned the use of a switch instead of an if else statement. This gave me the idea of an recurring item for dev.to: Commit or Vomit! Would you commit this code or not.

It's going to be code snippets that are going to be evaluated here. Not posts because I don't want people to feel/be judged by this, only code!

So this first βœ”||🀒 is from the post that started it all.


switch(true){
    case userMissedAppointment:
        return 'nope';
    case userHasAngularExperience:
    case userHasReactExperience:
    case userHasVueExperience && userCanStartInstantly:
        return 'hire';
    default:
        return 'maybe'
}
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This is just an example but the question is about the switch(true). What do you think? βœ”||🀒

❀: Commit
🏷: Vomit (we all know unicorns don't vomit)
πŸ¦„: Like your post please continue this series!

Looking forward to your reactions! 😎

Top comments (52)

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siddharthshyniben profile image
Siddharth • Edited

This could easily have been an if/elseif/else.

You could have done:

if(someExpressionA) console.log('yes')
else if ((someExpressionB 
    && someExpressionC) || someExpressionD) console.log('nope');
else console.log('maybe');
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basbenik profile image
Bas van Baalen

I'm not sure it's because of the editor, but I would suggest to use more lines for more readability and easier comprehension.

if(someExpressionA) 
  console.log('yes')
else if ((someExpressionB && someExpressionC) || someExpressionD) 
  console.log('nope');
else 
  console.log('maybe');
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For me this already reduces the cognitive load a lot quickly see what can happen.

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siddharthshyniben profile image
Siddharth

Actually I typed my comment on mobile, so I didn't format it

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

Good point for a next Commit or Vomit! What do you think about switch(true) in general?

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

true, this is a short example. Apart from this example would you never commit a switch(true)?

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siddharthshyniben profile image
Siddharth • Edited

Nope 🀒

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

good to mention: the example was updated after this reply

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jackmellis profile image
Jack

Since you're returning on each case I wouldn't even bother with elses...

if (useMissedAppointment) {
  return 'nope
}
if (userHasAngularExperience || useHasReactExperience || (userHasVieExperience && userCanStartImmediately)) {
  return 'hire'
}
return 'maybe'
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Of course I'd also extract that second conditon into another method, but that's another matter.

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natalia_asteria profile image
Natalia Asteria • Edited

Um, making it a bit inline is better imo.

if (userMissedAppointment) return 'nope';

if (userHasAngularExperience || useHasReactExperience || 
(userHasVieExperience && userCanStartImmediately)) return 'hire';

return 'maybe';
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The first line for the second if statement is too long imo. Turned it into two lines.

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager • Edited

My preference:

if (userMissedAppointment) return 'nope';

if (
  userHasAngularExperience 
  || useHasReactExperience 
  || (userHasVueExperience && userCanStartImmediately)
) return 'hire';

return 'maybe';
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natalia_asteria profile image
Natalia Asteria

Oh yeah, I didn't thought that.

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jackmellis profile image
Jack • Edited

Personally I prefer all-or-nothing for braces, I really don't like mixing styles. If any of my code has braces, I'd prefer all of my code to have braces. But this is totally off topic and probably a topic for another C/V poll!

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

I'll save it for another βœ”οΈ||🀒 good idea.
Just have to come up with a good example 😊 and not posting a new one every day is hard but I think this is going to be a weekly recurring item from now on 😎

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edave64 profile image
edave64

I personally like to drop the braces IF the condition is small and the statement ends control flow and logically can't have anything after, like return, throw, continue, break, etc.

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asdftd profile image
Milebroke • Edited

I think the cleanest and most expressive is still this


const hasFrontendFrameworkExperience = userHasAngularExperience || userHasReactExperience || userHasVueExperience;

if(userMissedAppointment){
    return 'nope';
} else if(hasFrontendFrameworkExperience && userCanStartInstantly){
    return 'hire';
}
return 'maybe';
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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

Your function behaves slightly different than the example, bit this just might prove your point of the switch not being readable enough πŸ˜…

The difference is that in the switch an angular experienced used doesn't have to start immediately.

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asdftd profile image
Milebroke

You are definitely right :D Well in that case I wouldn't mind the right if else combo either

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aleksandrhovhannisyan profile image
Aleksandr Hovhannisyan • Edited

Why the need for the case statement?

if (userMissedAppointment) {
  return 'nope';
}
const userMeetsTechRequirements = userHasAngularExperience || userHasReactExperience || userHasVueExperience;
if (userMeetsTechRequirements && userCanStartInstantly) {
   return 'hire';
}
return 'maybe'
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Also, imo, there's no need to repeat "user" in these flags. You could just say canStartInstantly, for example. There's no ambiguity regarding who this refers to.

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

Totally agree, but would you merge it if it was in a PR for instance?

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aleksandrhovhannisyan profile image
Aleksandr Hovhannisyan

Nope, I'd request changes here.

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indoor_keith profile image
Keith Charles

While the code is valid, I think the real issue here is just the amount of conditions you're trying to parse through. Using switch (true) feels more like a band-aid than a solution I would accept say in a PR.

I'm a fan for using switches when we're actually comparing the value in switch(value). Someone mentioned checking for a match in the zodiac. Perfect use case for a switch statement.

When you have to resort to a hacky solution, chances are the problem lies more with the code leading up to this decision than the decision itself.

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

Totally agree! It's a code smell.

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serializator profile image
Julian

I think this is a misuse of the switch statement and its purpose.

If there is a need for this kind of hackery witchery I believe there are other design flaws which makes this code "necessary" and should be refactored to make this kind of code avoidable.

When an if statement gets so complex that you start to search for more readable ways of writing it there will most likely also be alternative ways to take it apart into smaller parts and make it more comprehensible (and maintainable) that way.

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niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

I'd say probably vomit, but I'm sure there are cases where this way is just easier to read than if/else/return early/etc. Hard to say with placeholder-var-names.

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

Yes I agree, something to take into account for the next one in the series!
Thanks for the feedback 😊

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niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

switch(true){
case userDoesntHaveWorkPermit:
console.log('nope');
break;
case userHasReactExperience:
console.log('Hire!');
break;
case userHasVueExperience
&& userCanStartInstantly:
console.log("Hire, if they can start instantly");
break;
default:
console.log('maybe');
}

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

More of an Angular fan myself so userHasAngularExperience is going to be added 😎 but much better example, thnx!

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

Snippet was updated!

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sirnino profile image
Antonino Sirchia

Honestly you made me really curious about the performance... The switch normally are the first choice to avoid writing long if-else chains because the code "jumps" directly to the right place without evaluating all the other conditions... I'm curious to understand if also in this case these considerations are valid or not... I'll try and, if so, it will be an heart

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

I don't expect any performance gains but I'm looking forward to your findings!

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peerreynders profile image
peerreynders • Edited

What do you think about switch(true) in general?

πŸ‘Ž

With that out of the way I do think it's worth hypothesising how code like this may have come in to being.

But even before that I'm surprised nobody claimed primitive obsession given that there are five distinct boolean values on the "loose".

Seems the more likely scenario should be something like:

const results = {
  noShow: false,
  immediateAvailability: true,
  experience: {
    angular: false,
    react: false,
    vue: true,
  },
};
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With that reorganization my next guess should make more sense. I suspect the switch(true) is a degenerate form of some copy-pasted code that was trying to approximate pattern matching.

While a number of languages support pattern matching, JavaScript only supports destructuring assignment β€” not pattern matching:

The big difference is simple: Pattern matching is a conditional construct and destructuring isn’t.

There is a TC 39 proposal to add pattern matching to JavaScript (which hasn't moved beyond stage 1 since 2018). Meanwhile there are some third party libraries available that approximate some pattern matching functionality.

Using Pattern Matching:

import { when, _ } from 'pattern-matching-js';
// https://github.com/klo112358/pattern-matching-js

const STATUS = {
  reject: 'nope',
  accept: 'hire',
  reevaluate: 'maybe'
};

const results = {
  noShow: true,
  immediateAvailability: true,
  experience: {
    angular: false,
    react: true,
    vue: false
  }
};

/* eslint-disable no-unexpected-multiline */
// prettier-ignore
const status = when(results)
  ({ noShow: true }, STATUS.reject)
  ({ experience: { angular: true } }, STATUS.accept)
  ({ experience: { react: true } }, STATUS.accept)
  ({ experience: { vue: true },
     immediateAvailability: true }, STATUS.accept)
  (_, STATUS.reevaluate)
  ();

console.log(status);
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The actual proposal has much richer functionality that would allow for the aggregation of all the "accept" patterns. But if you squint, that when (or match) is reminiscent of a switch.

There is another way to represent boolean values - as bit flags.
Using bit flags/field operators:

const STATUS = {
  reject: 'nope',
  accept: 'hire',
  reevaluate: 'maybe',
};

const FLAGS = {
  noShow: 0x01,
  availableImmediately: 0x02,
  angular: 0x04,
  react: 0x08,
  vue: 0x10,
};

const results = FLAGS.availableImmediately | FLAGS.vue;
const status = interviewStatus(results);

console.log(status);

function interviewStatus(results) {
  if (match(results, FLAGS.noShow)) return STATUS.reject;

  if (
    match(results, FLAGS.angular) ||
    match(results, FLAGS.react) ||
    match(results, FLAGS.vue | FLAGS.availableImmediately)
  )
    return STATUS.accept;

  return STATUS.reevaluate;
}

function match(value, flags) {
  return (value & flags) === flags;
}
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Again interviewStatus() is somewhat reminiscent of a switch statement wrangled to behave like an expression.

One final point: readability.

It's kind of interesting how many comments claim that if based solutions are more readable. Personally I find that most of the if based proposals require a prolonged mental parse to just get the gist of the code. Obviously readability is a lot more subjective than most people are willing to admit.

Using the nullish coalscing operator:

const STATUS = {
  reject: 'nope',
  accept: 'hire',
  reevaluate: 'maybe',
};

const results = {
  noShow: false,
  immediateAvailability: false,
  experience: {
    angular: false,
    react: false,
    vue: true,
  },
};

const status = interviewStatus(results);

console.log(status);

function interviewStatus(results) {
  return maybeReject(results) ?? maybeAccept(results) ?? STATUS.reevaluate;
}

// "maybe" prefix - returns a value or `undefiend`
function maybeReject({ noShow }) {
  return noShow ? STATUS.reject : undefined;
}

function maybeAccept({
  experience: { angular, react, vue },
  immediateAvailability,
}) {
  return angular || react || (vue && immediateAvailability)
    ? STATUS.accept
    : undefined;
}
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In my view:

  • the rejection criteria can be easily located and identified quickly
  • the acceptance criteria can be easily located and identified fairly quickly
  • it should be obvious that rejection criteria take precedence over acceptance criteria

Now I'm certain there already is a queue of people forming getting ready to drop a ton of bricks on me, how they don't find the above code readable at all.

That's not surprising β€” something is only judged as "readable" if it is already familiar. Anything unfamilar to an individual is also not as readable because of the additional cognitive effort that is required to read it.

In natural langauge there is the notion that

If you learn only 800 of the most frequently-used lemmas in English, you'll be able to understand 75% of the language as it is spoken in normal life.

However

Eight hundred lemmas will help you speak a language in a day-to-day setting, but to understand dialogue in film or TV you'll need to know the 3,000 most common lemmas.

Going further

And if you want to get your head around the written word - so novels, newspapers, excellently-written … articles - you need to learn 8,000 to 9,000 lemmas.

So just because something isn't deemed "readable" by a certain group of people doesn't necessarily imply that it is unreasonable.

From that point of view it's important to get exposure to a broad spectrum of programming styles (preferably across languages from different programming paradigms) β€” with that exposure a lot more code becomes "readable".

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siddharthshyniben profile image
Siddharth

I can't believe some people put hearts

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cariehl profile image
Cooper Riehl

I liked this post, not because I think switch (true) is a good paradigm (it isn't), but because the post itself is interesting.

The author isn't saying "you should use switch (true) in your code", they're saying "let's have a discussion about whether switch (true) is acceptable". IMO, that's a useful discussion!

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

That's the fun of this item 😊
It shows it's important to keep an open mind!

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andreidascalu profile image
Andrei Dascalu

Vomit.
Either a verbose aggregation of desired Boolean checks OR return from currying some composable functions that return a similar aggregation.
I am slightly partial to the second as I believe anyone looking for FP would be.

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disgustingdev profile image
disgusting-dev • Edited

How about that (pre-enterprise example :))

//allocate in one place binding of all rules with results
const conditionsEnum = {
  nope: ignoringConditions,
  hire: hiringConditions,
  maybe: mbConditions,
}

let result = '';

//find first truth in there
for (let field in conditionsEnum) {
  if (conditionsEnum[field].some(condition => !!condition())) {
    result = field;

    return result;
  }
}
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values in object are just arrays of functions:

const ignoringConditions = [
  () => false,
  () => false,
  () => false,
]

const hiringConditions = [
  () => true,
  () => false,
  () => false,
]

const mbConditions = [
  () => false,
  () => false,
  () => false,
]
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Hope my nickname speaks for itself

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

Hope my nickname speaks for itself

🀣🀣

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jmdejager profile image
🐀πŸ₯‡ Jasper de Jager

This was a tough one for me, I like the style, but if/else is easier to read and comprehend. so for me it's a 🀒

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edave64 profile image
edave64

This code definitely smells. So you have multiple conditions that are all mutually exclusive, but not similar enough that you can't just use a regular switch?

In any case, that's not what switch is for. If-else that stuff. Or, even better in this case, just if's because return ends control flow anyways.

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stevezieglerva profile image
Steve Ziegler

You can always (and probably should) refactor long bool expressions into a functions with descriptive names.