JavaScript style guide
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Readme.md
jshint-options.json

Readme.md

JavaScript Style Guide

This is a guide for writing JavaScript code in any environment. It is inspired by pragmatic thought leaders in the community and decisions from working with JavaScript in Node and in the browser day-in-day-out.

This guide was forked from Felix Geisendörfer's guide and is licensed under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license. The original guide is located here. You are encouraged to fork this repository and make adjustments according to your preferences.

There is a jshint options json file in this repo to help you conform to some of the guidelines outlined here.

Creative Commons License

2 Spaces for indention

Use 2 spaces for indenting your code and swear an oath to never mix tabs and spaces in your code - a special kind of hell is awaiting you otherwise.

Spacing

Follow Crockford’s rules about spaces and be consistent:

  • No space between and named function and its brackets: function foo() {}
  • Exactly one space between an annonymous function and its brackets: function () {}
  • Exactly one space after a comma: console.log(a, b, c)
  • Exactly one space each side of infix operators: 5 + 5 / 3, 10 * Math.min(a, b)
  • No space between a prefix/postfix operator and its operand: -8 / 2, i++
  • No space after a property name and exactly one space after it in an object literal: foo: bar

No trailing whitespace

Just like you brush your teeth after every meal, you clean up any trailing whitespace in your JS files before committing. Otherwise the rotten smell of careless neglect will eventually drive away contributors and/or co-workers.

No Semicolons

Semicolons should be omitted for brevity and reduced visual noise.

Semicolons are unnecessary and all JavaScript implementations follow the same automatic semicolon injection rules to-the-T (yes, including IE6). Removing them makes the code easier to write and easier to read.

There are exceptional circumstances when lines should start with a semicolon. However, these circumstances are not common, and you should ratify your decision to use one before beginning a line with a semicolon.

Here is Isaacs' run down on those circumstances (verbatim, from here):

  • for (;;) loops. They're actually required.
  • null loops like: while (something) ; (But you'd better have a good reason for doing that.)
  • case "foo": doSomething(); break
  • In front of a leading ( or [ at the start of the line. This prevents the expression from being interpreted as a function call or property access, respectively.

Some examples of good semicolon usage:

;(x || y).doSomething()
;[a, b, c].forEach(doSomething)
for (var i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
  doSomething()
}

Note that starting lines with - and + also should be prefixed with a semicolon, but this is much less common.

To Recap: If a line begins with [, (, + or -, you should start it with a semicolon.

80 characters per line

Limit your lines to 80 characters and be strict about it. Yes, screens have gotten much bigger over the last few years, but your brain has not. Use the additional room for split screen, your editor supports that, right?

Use single quotes

Use single quotes, unless you are writing JSON.

Right:

var foo = 'bar'

Wrong:

var foo = "bar"

Opening braces go on the same line

Your opening braces go on the same line as the statement.

Right:

if (true) {
  console.log('winning')
}

Wrong:

if (true)
{
  console.log('losing')
}

Also, notice the use of whitespace before and after the condition statement.

One liners

Blocks containing a single statement may appear on one line, if desired. Curly braces should be omitted. Blocks containing more than one statement (and an if that has any else ifs or an else) should always appear on multiple lines with braces. This is because the most important tokens should always appear on the left.

Right:

if (true) console.log('winning')

if (true) {
  console.log('winning')
} else {
  console.log('losing')
}

Wrong:

if (true) { console.log('winning') }
if (true) console.log('winning') else console.log('losing')

Declare many variables per var statement

Declare many variables per var statement as it is less to type, and less visual noise.

Right:

var keys = [ 'foo', 'bar' ]
  , values = [ 23, 42 ]
  , object = {}
  , key

while (items.length) {
  key = keys.pop()
  object[key] = values.pop()
}

Wrong:

var keys   = [ 'foo', 'bar' ]
var values = [ 23, 42 ]

var object = {};
while (items.length) {
  var key = keys.pop()
  object[key] = values.pop()
}

Use lowerCamelCase for variables, properties and function names

Variables, properties and function names should use lowerCamelCase. It is most preferrable to use a single word for a variable name. Make an effort to choose a good balance between meaningfull-ness and brevity. Single character variables should generally be avoided, but are occasionally acceptable.

Right:

var admins = db.query('SELECT * FROM users ...');

Wrong:

var admin_user = db.query('SELECT * FROM users ...')
var adminUsersFromDb = db.query('SELECT * FROM users ...')

Use UpperCamelCase for constructors

Constructors should be capitalized using UpperCamelCase (also known as Pascal Case).

Right:

function BankAccount() {
}

Wrong:

function bank_Account() {
}

Use UPPERCASE for Constants

Constants should be declared as regular variables or static class properties, using all uppercase letters.

Node.js / V8 actually supports mozilla's const extension, but unfortunately that cannot be applied to class members, nor is it part of any ECMA standard.

Right:

var SECOND = 1 * 1000

function File() {
}
File.FULL_PERMISSIONS = 0777

Wrong:

const SECOND = 1 * 1000

function File() {
}
File.fullPermissions = 0777

Object / Array creation

Use comma first style and put short declarations on a single line. Only quote keys when your interpreter complains:

Right:

var a = [ 'hello', 'world' ]
var b =
  { good: 'code'
  , 'is generally': 'pretty'
  }

Wrong:

var a = [
  'hello', 'world'
]
var b = {
  "good": 'code',
  is generally: 'pretty'
};

Right:

var required =
  [ 'main-nav'
  , 'local-news-selector'
  , 'notifications'
  , 'datepicker'
  ]

Wrong:

var required = [
  'main-nav',
  'local-news-selector',
  'notifications',
  'datepicker',
]

For an explanation on why to use comma-first, look no further than this gist by Isaacs. Deviate slightly from the npm style here about the level of indentation. The npm style is to line up with where the opening symbol naturally occurs:

Wrong:

var myObj = { propA: 10
            , proB: 20
            }

It is better to have consistent levels of indenation, which means you don’t have to maintain all those indents if you rename the variable. Break a line and indent before the start symbol:

Right:

  var myObj =
    { propA: 10
    , proB: 20
    }

Use the === operator

Programming is not about remembering stupid rules. Use the triple equality operator as it will work just as expected.

Right:

var a = 0
if (a === '') {
  console.log('winning')
}

Wrong:

var a = 0
if (a == '') {
  console.log('losing')
}

Use the ternary operator

The ternary operator should be used on a single line if it will fit within the 80 char limit. Split it up into multiple lines if it doesn't.

Right:

var foo = (a === b) ? 1 : 2

Wrong:

var foo = (aReallyLongVariableName.someProperty === bReallyLongVariableName.someProperty) ? 1 : 2

Do not extend built-in prototypes

Do not extend the prototype of native JavaScript objects. Unless you are writing or using a 'polyfill' to simulate standard behaviour in old environments.

Right:

var a = []
if (!a.length) {
  console.log('winning')
}

Wrong:

Array.prototype.empty = function () {
  return !this.length
}

var a = []
if (a.empty()) {
  console.log('losing')
}

Use descriptive conditions

Any non-trivial conditions should be assigned to a descriptive variable:

Right:

var isAuthorized = (user.isAdmin() || user.isModerator())
if (isAuthorized) {
  console.log('winning')
}

Wrong:

if (user.isAdmin() || user.isModerator()) {
  console.log('losing')
}

Write small functions

Keep your functions short. A good function fits on a slide that the people in the last row of a big room can comfortably read. So don't count on them having perfect vision and limit yourself to ~15 lines of code per function.

Limit your parameters

Functions should aim to have less than 5 parameters. 5 is the most that any should have. If you find yourself wanting more paramaters, you should generally use an options hash instead.

Good:

function animate(el, options, cb) {
  ...
}

Bad:

function animate(el, duration, ease, delay, properties, cb) {
  ...
}

Keep your files small

There are times when a 1,000+ line file is needed but as a general rule of thumb try and keep your file < 300 lines. More than 500 lines and it's starting to be a code smell.

Return early from functions

To avoid deep nesting of if-statements, always return a functions value as early as possible.

Right:

function isPercentage(val) {
  if (val < 0) {
    return false
  }

  if (val > 100) {
    return false
  }

  return true
}

Wrong:

function isPercentage(val) {
  if (val >= 0) {
    if (val < 100) {
      return true
    } else {
      return false
    }
  } else {
    return false
  }
}

Or for this particular example it may also be fine to shorten things even further:

function isPercentage(val) {
  var isInRange = (val >= 0 && val <= 100)
  return isInRange
}

Name your closures

Feel free to give your closures a name. It shows that you care about them, and will produce better stack traces, heap and cpu profiles.

Right:

req.on('end', function onEnd() {
  console.log('winning')
});

Wrong:

req.on('end', function () {
  console.log('losing')
});

Limit nested closures

Use closures, but don't nest them too much. Otherwise your code will become a mess. Your 80 char line limit should help prevent you nesting too far.

Right:

setTimeout(function () {
  client.connect(afterConnect)
}, 1000)

function afterConnect() {
  console.log('winning')
}

Wrong:

setTimeout(function () {
  client.connect(function () {
    console.log('losing')
  });
}, 1000)

Comments

Inline comments should be line comments: //, regardless of how many lines they span, eg:

  // Only run on browsers that support media queries.
  // If a browser doesn't support media queries, .mq()
  // will always return false.
  if (!window.Modernizr.mq('(min-width:0px)')) return
  breakPoints.push(new BreakPoint(name, media).check())

Comments describing the functionality of a method or function should be multi-line comments: /* */, eg:

  /*
   * Sanitizes a file-type extension
   */
  function getFormat(f) {
    switch (f) {
      case '.jpg': return 'jpeg'
      case '.gif': return 'gif'
      default: return 'png'
    }
  }

Try to write comments that explain higher level mechanisms or clarify difficult segments of your code. Don't use comments to restate trivial things. Be terse, to the point and don't waffle.

Right:

// 'ID_SOMETHING=VALUE' -> [ 'ID_SOMETHING=VALUE'', 'SOMETHING', 'VALUE' ]
var matches = item.match(/ID_([^\n]+)=([^\n]+)/))

/*
 * This function has a nasty side effect where a failure to increment a
 * redis counter used for statistics will cause an exception. This needs
 * to be fixed in a later iteration.
 */
function loadUser(id, cb) {
  // ...
}

var isSessionValid = (session.expires < Date.now())
if (isSessionValid) {
  // ...
}

Wrong:

// Execute a regex
var matches = item.match(/ID_([^\n]+)=([^\n]+)/))

// Usage: loadUser(5, function () { ... })
function loadUser(id, cb) {
  // ...
}

// Check if the session is valid
var isSessionValid = (session.expires < Date.now())
// If the session is valid
if (isSessionValid) {
  // ...
}

Errors

Use actual Error objects for errors, not strings or any other type of object. Justification here.

Don't throw in asynchronous code.

Right

if (unicorns.length < 10) {
  callback(new Error('not enough unicorns'))
}

Wrong:

if (unicorns.length < 10) {
  callback('not enough unicorns')
}
if (unicorns.length < 10) {
  callback('not enough unicorns')
}
if (unicorns.length < 10) {
  throw 'not enough unicorns'
} else {
  callback(null, unicorns)
}

Asynchronous function signature

Writing asynchronous functions with a callback, the callback's signature should always be function (err, data) { ... }.

Prefer function declaration over assigning a function expression

To define a function in the current scope, use a function declaration. Don't assign the result of a function expression to a variable.

Right:

function greet() {
  console.log('hello')
}

Wrong:

var greet = function () {
  console.log('hello')
}

module.exports

When writing in a node style environment, export only one thing from your module. In general, if you are assigning multiple exports, you have designed a poor API or you have written several modules that should be separated out.

Put your module exports as close to the top of the file as possible. This helps someone reading your module to know what is being exported.

Right:

module.exports = jim

Wrong:

module.exports.jim = jim
module.exports.bob = bob
module.exports.barry = barry

Require as soon as possible

Put as many requires as possible in the main body of your module (so that it runs when it is loaded).

If something is missing you want to know about it when your program starts up and not when it's been running in production for 48hours before hitting a certain code path.

Right:

module.exports = doSomething

var async = require('async')

function doSomething() {
  async.map(...)
}

Wrong:

module.exports = doSomething

function doSomething() {
  require('async').map(...)
}

Object.freeze, Object.preventExtensions, Object.seal, with, eval

Crazy shit that you will probably never need. Stay away from it.

Getters and setters

Do not use setters, they cause more problems for people who try to use your software than they can solve.

Feel free to use getters that are free from side effects, like providing a length property for a collection class.

Embedding JS in HTML

The type attribute is unnecessary and obsolete, so don't use it. //<![CDATA[ is required if you want your document to parse as XML. You should be using the HTML5 DOCTYPE, in which case your document will parse as HTML meaning that //<![CDATA[ is unnecessary.

Right:

<script>
  console.log('Boo')
</script>

Wrong:

<script type="text/javascript">//<![CDATA[
  console.log('Boo')
//]]></script>

Minify and concatenate JavaScript that is sent to the browser

Minimising the number of HTTP requests and file sizes will make your site faster.

Use module.js in the browser

The browser environment has no native module system. Node has a good one, so simlulate that with module.js.