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Abstract Syntax Tree

The CoffeeScript AST format is much pretty much exactly like JavaScript's. Only: it has a few new node types, a few new properties in existing types, and some unsupported ones are removed.

  • New node types are always prefixed with Coffee, eg: CoffeeLoopStatement.

  • New properties are always prefixed with underscore, eg: _prefix in ThisExpression.

  • Types supported in JS but not Coffee are removed, eg: WithStatement.

Refer to the Mozilla's Parser API spec for the JavaScript version.

Inspecting the syntax tree

In the command line, you can use the --ast option:

js2c file.coffee --ast

Programatically, just check the result's ast property:

result = js2coffee.build(source);
console.log(result.ast);

An example of an AST:

/* echo "alert()" | js2c --ast */

{ type: 'Program',
  body:
   [ { type: 'ExpressionStatement',
       expression:
        { type: 'CallExpression',
          callee: { type: 'Identifier', name: 'alert' },
          arguments: [],
          _isStatement: true } } ],
  comments: [] }

About this document

A few pointers on notation:

  • Array properties are denoted with [ ... ]. (eg: expressions in an ArrayExpression)

  • Optional properties are denoted with *, meaning they can be null in some cases. (eg: argument of a ReturnStatement)

Basic node types

Statement

A block contains many statements. (eg, IfStatement, ExpressionStatement).

Expression

Fragments of a statement (eg, ObjectExpression, Identifier).

Node types

These are nodes available in both CoffeeScript and JavaScript.

Program

The root node.

BlockStatement

A sequence of statements. Usually belongs to a loop like WhileStatement, or an IfStatement, or some other.

  • body : [ Statement, ... ]
  • _negative : Boolean (true if it's unless)

ExpressionStatement

A statement with one expression in it.

Identifier

Just an identifier.

  • name : String

IfStatement

A conditional. This encompasses both the if and else parts.

BreakStatement

Just break, for breaking out of loops. No properties.

ContinueStatement

Just continue, for breaking out of loops. No properties.

SwitchStatement

ReturnStatement

Can have its argument missing (eg: return).

ThrowStatement

TryStatement

A try block. Encompasses all try, catch, and finally.

CatchClause

A handler in a TryStatement. (eg: catch err)

WhileStatement

DebuggerStatement

Invokes a debugger. No properties.

ThisExpression

Just this.

  • _prefix : Boolean (true if rendered as @)

ArrayExpression

ObjectExpression

  • properties : [ Property, ... ] *
  • _braced : Boolean (true if braced, eg { a: 1 })
  • _last : Boolean (true if it's the last expression in the scope)

The _last property is set to true when the expression is the last in the scope, such as in this example. In these cases, js2coffee will omit the braces and won't indent the object.

/* assume there's nothing else in the file */
({a:2, c:3});

Property

Inside ObjectExpression.

FunctionExpression

(note: id is removed from function expressions.)

UnaryExpression

A prefix expression. Note that this operator also be not, which is not available in JS.

  • operator : String (eg: "void", "!")
  • argument : Expression

BinaryExpression

AssignmentExpression

An assignment. Also covers shorthand like +=.

UpdateExpression

An increment or decrement. (a++)

  • prefix : Boolean
  • operator : String (eg: ++)
  • argument : Identifier

ConditionalExpression

The ternary operator. (if a then b else c)

NewExpression

Instanciation (eg: new X()).

CallExpression

A function call.

  • callee : Expression
  • arguments : [ Expression, ... ]
  • _isStatement : Boolean (true if it has no parentheses)

MemberExpression

Scope resolution (eg: this.foo).

SwitchStatement

SwitchCase

A case inside a SwitchStatement. Then test is not present, it's the else.

Identifier

  • name : String

Literal

  • raw : raw code as a string (eg: "\"hello\"")
  • value : whatever the value is (eg: hello)

CoffeeScript-specific

These are CoffeeScript-specific AST types:

CoffeeListExpression

a comma-separated list (eg: when a, b).

CoffeePrototypeExpression

Prototype resolution operator. Similar to MemberExpression.

Examples:

a::b

# { type: 'CoffeePrototypeExpression',
#   object: { type: 'Identifier', name: 'a' },
#   property: { type: 'Identifier', name: 'b' } }

CoffeeLoopStatement

A forever loop. Compiles to loop.

Examples:

loop
  a()

# { type: 'CoffeeLoopExpression',
#   body: {
#     type: 'BlockStatement',
#     body: { ... } }

CoffeeEscapedExpression

A backtick-wrapped JS expression.

  • value : the raw value

Example:

`undefined`

# { type: 'CoffeeEscapedExpression',
#   value: 'undefined' }

CoffeeDoExpression

Represents do -> ....

Example:

do -> ...

# { type: 'CoffeeDoExpression'
#   function: {
#     type: 'FunctionExpression'
#     body: { ... } } }

BlockComment

A ### ... ### comment.

  • value : String

LineComment

A # ... comment.

  • value : String

Only in JavaScript

These node types are not present in CoffeeScript ASTs, but are present in JavaScript ASTs.

SequenceExpression

turned into a sequence of ExpressionStatements.

EmptyStatement

removed from the tree.

FunctionDeclaration

converted into a = -> (AssignmentExpression).

VariableDeclaration

converted into a = -> (AssignmentExpression).

VariableDeclarator

converted into a = -> (AssignmentExpression).

WithStatement

throws an error; unsupported in CoffeeScript.

LabeledStatement

throws an error; unsupported in CoffeeScript.

ForStatement

Converted to WhileStatement loops.

ForInStatement

Converted to WhileStatement loops.

DoWhileStatement

Converted to CoffeeLoopStatement loops.

ES6/Harmony

ArrowFunctionExpression

ArrayPattern

For destructuring

ObjectPattern

For destructuring