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Error Handling In JavaScript

Linas Spukas
Full-stack web developer with a specialisation in React and NodeJS.
・3 min read

When running JavaScript code, many errors can occur. Wrong input, undefined variables, functions, the incorrect syntax will cause mistakes. If we don't handle them, they will block further execution of the code and lead to poor user experience and frustration. In this article, we will take a quick look at how to handle occurring errors for easier debugging and meaningful information to the user.

try, catch And finally

Most errors occur and require handling when dealing with user inputs or data from other sources, for example, reading and sending data to the server or running asynchronous code. If an error happens during the execution, JavaScript will stop and create an error object. It is called throw an exception.
Try-catch statement lets to check a defined code for errors in the try block, and if it detects one, it will skip the following statements and jumps to the catch block to handle the error.

try {
  // x is not defined in the scope and will throw an exception
  console.log(x)
  // this statement will be skipped
  console.log('Last block call');
} catch(error) {
  console.error(error);
}

In the example above, we try to execute two statements where the first one should log not defined variable x. JavaScript, by default, will throw an exception and jumps to the catch block. catch will hold the value of that exception. For easier debugging use console.error instead of console.log, because it will form the error message and add it to the list of errors generated by the page.
When using a try-catch, if an error will occur, only try block statements will stop executing. The code outside try-catch will not freeze and continue to run.

While try-catch always comes together, there's additional finally block, that will execute code whether or not the exception is thrown. You would usually use it to close the connection or stream, to fail elegantly by releasing the code in the block in case of errors.

try {
  // ...
} catch(error) {
  // ...
} finally {
  closeConnection();
}

throw Statement

throw statement lets you create custom error messages. When the statemente executes, a value must be specified, and it can be any type:

throw 7; // Number type
throw 'Invalid string'; // String type
throw false; // Boolean type
throw { name: 'SyntaxError'; message: 'Unknown character' }; // Object type
throw new Error('Typo'); // Error object constructor

When using throw in the try-catch statement, the triggered throw exception value can be accessed in the catch block.
If the throw statement is not handled, for example, in the try-catch, it stops the JavaScript executions.

Error Object

The Error object is built in JavaScript error constructor, which is called automatically when the error occurs or can be generated and thrown manually. It holds three properties: name, message, and stack.
When using a built-in Error object, it makes debugging more accessible, because it traces back the call stack until the thrown error, so you can see which line of code caused the problems.
Most auto generated thrown named errors are:

  • SyntaxError - error made in the syntax, i.e. misplaced comma in the code
  • TypeError - type connected error, i.e. run a method that type does not have 'str'.toFix()
  • ReferenceError - when referencing functions or variables that are not declared

To use a constructor, we call it with new variable and specify a message as an argument:

try {
  throw new Error('Invalid input');
} catch(error) {
  console.error('Name:', error.name); // Name: Error
  console.error('Message:', error.message); // Message: Invalid input
}

Conclusion

That's the basics of error handling in JavaScript. Error eventually will happen, and knowing how to manage them gracefully can make debugging more comfortable and lead to better user experience.

Discussion (3)

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wepukhulutimothy profile image
WEPUKHULU TIMOTHY

JavaScript errors give a lot of headaches thanks

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jreckers profile image
jreckers

Really nice explanation, Thank You

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tristanharkleroad profile image
Tristan Harkleroad

This was very useful for me thank you!