A micro-utility for shifting `this` into the first function parameter
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README.md

Thee is a micro-utility to make you never have to use the this keyword ever again.

Why thee?

I think we can all agree, the this keyword in javascript is dumb. So thee gets rid of the need to use it. Ever. Like this:

Normally we would write

var ackgnowledgeClick = function(e) {
	this.textContent = "You Clicked the button at (" + e.pageX + ", " + e.pageY + ")";
};
$('button').on('click', ackgnowledgeClick);

Now you can

npm install thee

or

jspm install npm:thee

and

import thee from 'thee'

var ackgnowledgeClick = function(button, e) {
	button.textContent = "You Clicked the button at (" + e.pageX + ", " + e.pageY + ")";
};
$('button').click( thee(ackgnowledgeClick) );

Nice and simple. See below for more uses

Thee is written entirely in es6 javascript. An cross-compiled es5 version is available for those not using a compiler (like Babel with Jspm. I can't emphasize enough that you should use Jspm).

We don't all agree that this is dumb?

Oh boy. Let me take you through this and keep an open mind.

Let's start with the following code

var fred = {
	name: "Fred Flintstone",
	sayHi: function() {
		alert("Hello from " + this.name);
	}
};

var button = $('button');
button.click(function() {
	fred.sayHi();
});

Now an enterprising (and OCD) developer might say

Hold on, I should be able to clean this up! We've got click taking a simple function argument in which we don't care about parameters, and fred.sayHi is a simple function in which we don't care about parameters. So how about

$('button').click(fred.sayHi);

less indirection, and I save two lines of ceremony code and...oh...crap

Yeah, doesn't work, does it? All of a sudden you're not saying "Hello from Fred Flintstone". That's because the this parameter changes out underneath us.

So ok, you might concede; this is confusing, but isn't it a necessary evil? It might be dumb, but you can't exactly get around without it?. Afterall, this is special, it's not like this is just another much more familiar language feature in disguise, is it?

Assuming that you fist pumped and screamed out loud "no it's not!" let me blow your mind. It is! Let me prove it to you.

Most people are aware that all functions in javascript have a special call method.

    doStuff.call(1, 2, 3);

This will invoke doStuff while setting this to 1, the first agument to 2, and the second to 3".

In fact if you wanted to, you could use only .call to invoke all functions in your codebase. In that case we might rewrite the above code in this way.

var fred = {
	name: "Fred Flintstone",
	sayHi: function() {
		alert.call(window, "Hello from " + this.name);
	}
};

var button = $.call(window, 'button');
button.click.call(button, function() {
	fred.sayHi.call(fred);
});

this is verbose, but equivalent to the previous code. So let's say we only ever invoked functions with .call. Let's take a more complex example

var function whatAreThings(arg1, arg2) {
	console.log("Things passed in:", this, arg1, arg2, arguments[2]);
}
whatAreThings.call("one", "two", "three", "four");
// Will print
//   Things passed in: one two three four

Umm (you say) - so how exactly is this different from like...any other parameter?

Now you're getting it!

this is just a parameter! It's in fact worse because

  • it's not included in the automatic arguments object
  • and you don't get to name it in an nice way

Oh and there's the fact that if you don't explicitly use .call the programming language takes a guess at what you want this to be. (Cameron Spear requests I note here here that I am being hyperbolic. Javascript doesn't really take a guess so much as follow a limited though confusing list of rules).

whatAreThings("one", "two", "three"); //Things passed in: window one two three

(function() {
	'use strict'
	whatAreThings("one", "two", "three"); //Things passed in: undefined one two three
})();

var obj = {};
obj.whatAreThings = whatAreThing;
obj.whatAreThings("one", "two", "three"); //Things passed in: [Object object] one two three

What a pain in the ass!

So the question becomes. Why use this at all? And the good news is, in your own code, you usually don't have to. The problem is more when you try to use a library's code. These often force you to use this. And that's where thee comes in!

More Uses

thee is not just for wrapping functions. You can use it to wrap whole objects, which will return a new object with the same properties but wrapped methods.

Instead of

var Person = React.createClass({
	name: "Person component",
	render: function() {
		return (
			<header>{this.props.name}</header>
		)
	},
	componentWillMount: function() {
		logMouting(this)
	}
})

you can do

var Person = React.createClass(thee({
	name: "Person component",
	render: function(c) {
		return (
			<header>{c.props.name}</header>
		)
	},
	componentWillMount: logMouting //yay! this works like it should
}))

Heck, wee can even do es6 arrow functions because without this, who cares about scope binding?

var Person = React.createClass(thee({
	name: "Person component",
	render:( (c) =>
		<header>{c.props.name}</header>
	),
	componentWillMount: logMouting
}))

Note that all other parameters will still be present, they will simply be shifted over by one.

this checking

Code using thee shouldn't use this. Therefore, when first wrapping a function, thee will by default attempt to parse the function code for usages of this and throw an error if this is found. Sometimes this might not be the desired behavior. In order to disable it, pass an optioins object with { noThisCheck: true}

fred.sayHi = thee(function(p) { console.log("Hi from this. " + p.name) }, { noThisCheck: true }) );

or disable it globally

thee.noThisCheck = true 
//...
fred.sayHi = thee(function(p) { console.log("Hi from this. " + p.name) } );

Limitations

Thee does not absolve you from ever having to know how this works. It is not magic and subject to limitatiosn posed by javascript. For example the following will not work

var fred = {
	name: "Fred",
	sayHi: thee(function(f) { alert(f.name + " says hi"); })
};

var fredHi = fred.sayHi;
$('button').click(fredHi); //name will not exist
//or even
$('button').click(fred.sayHi); //name will not exist

as at the time the function runs, it has already lost the fred context; this is the way javascrpt works and there is simply nothing to be done about it. To preserve context either wrap the entire object so that it can be captured, or use bind as you normally would.

About thee

thee is written as part of the New Orleans Open Source Hackathon. The original name was Thus but a Thus library that does the exact opposite already exists. Boo on Thus!. The name was suggested by Gant Laborde who is a judge. Hi Gant!