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The practical inheritance pattern has been designed to standarize the inheritance patterns used within iai modules. It has been published independently, attached to the following paper:

An alternative to the constructor pattern

Note: This document is a review of a previous version of this document.


Simplicity & expressiveness

The object declarations must be simple and expressive, and should not be verbose.

Goals, by relevance

#1: Forget the concept of classes.

Everything is a instance in javascript, so talking about classes, even in quotes, is a mistake. There is no excuse.

#2: Vanilla compliant pattern.

The pattern for object declarations must be enough simple to be implemented with plain vanilla javascipt, without the need of helper functions.

#3: Avoid the use of the new keyword.

The use of the new keyword is not combinable with the ECMAScript Function.prototype functionalities, specially call and apply, and breaks possible chained calls.

#4: Avoid usage of helper functions.

Encourage to not use an utility function when it does not provide clear benefits for readability of code. Sometimes Vanilla javascript produces the code most simple and most descriptive, or at least the code that is enough simple and enough descriptive.

#5: Provide helper functions for convenience.

Helper functions usage is convenient for reducing verbosity, especially when declaring long inheritance chains.

constructors builders

Research about creational design patterns and cross out definitions that refer specifically to the concept of classes. Prototype and Builder are the patterns that do not rely specifically on the class concept by definition. In fact, JavaScript implements both natively:

  • The prototype pattern, through the native Object.

      // prototype is a fully initialized instance of Object.
      var prototype = {
        // ...
      // create a new object with specified prototype
      var object = Object.create( prototype );

    See on the ECMA 5.1 specification:

  • The builder pattern, allowing the use of a function as an object's constructor when invoked with the new keyword (aka. constructor pattern).

      // the function builder separates object construction from its representation (aka instance)
      function builder(){
        // ...
      builder.prototype = {
        // ...
      // builder can create different representations with the same construction process
      var object = new builder();

    See on the ECMA 5.1 specification:

prototypal classical practical inheritance pattern

As said, the tools to implement an inheritance pattern, either prototypal-based or builder-based, are natively bundled within ECMAScript specification:

  1. Object.create is the way to create a new object with the specified prototype.
  2. Functions, used as constructors, initialize a newly created object with the specified prototype (being the specified prototype the value of function's prototype property).

The challengue are researching and developing, featuring all the goals defined herein, the following:

  1. A pattern that efficiently replaces the constructor builder pattern (to avoid the usage of the new keyword).
  2. Some helper functions to reduce code verbosity on huge object declarations or huge inheritance chains (the fewer and simpler, the better).

The solution to #1 is simple, and semantically equivalent to the constructor pattern: use a function that creates a new object with speficied prototype, performs all neccessary initializations, and returns the newly created instance. There are many possible solutions to implement it, as the following:

  • The widely used Simple “Class” Instantiation, derived from John Resig's researches. This pattern avoids the use of the new keyword outside the builder function, like some ECMAScript built-in constructors that can be called as functions.

      function builder(){
        if( !(this instanceof builder) ){
          return new builder();
        // initialize instance (this)...
        // do not return!! (or return this)
      builder.prototype = {
        // ...
      var object = builder();

    See on the ECMA 5.1 specification:

  • The practical inheritance pattern (also builder pattern), designed and crafted to be used within iai modules, and presented on this paper. This pattern fits all the goals defined herein.

      function builder(){
        var instance = this instanceof builder? this : Object.create(builder.prototype);
        // initialize instance...
        return instance;
      builder.prototype = {
        // ...
      var object = builder();

Both code snippnets above will pass an instanceof check as expected. Any object having builder.prototype on its prototype chain will resolve true for object instanceof builder.

See on the ECMAScript 5.1 specification:

The inheritance chain

Work in progress...


This document is being reviewed as the buider pattern is being reviewed too. Please follow to previous version of this document for further understanding of the builder pattern and its beginnings.