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Closures to Extend Variable Scope

13 Jun

Closures in JavaScript are a fairly straightforward concept, and have been discussed online in a number of in-depth articles. The fact that they are straightforward doesn’t necessarily mean they’re simple however, as seen by the extensive articles that cover the subject. To create a closure, you nest a function inside of a function. That inner function has access to all variables in its parent function’s scope. This comes in handy when creating methods and properties in object oriented scripts. Here is a simple example that demonstrates the use of a closure:

function myObject() {
  this.property1 = "value1";
  this.property2 = "value2";
  var newValue = this.property1;
 this.performMethod = function() { myMethodValue = newValue; return myMethodValue; };
  }
  var myObjectInstance = new myObject();
  alert(myObjectInstance.performMethod());

The key portions of the script are the nested anonymous function are highlighted in bold and the method call in the alert function (last line). Because the method in the alert is actually calling a nested function, that method is able to read the value of the variable called newValue, even thought that variable is not within the scope of the anonymous function, or method.

Developers use closures all the time, probably unknowingly, since a closure is created any time an anonymous function is nested inside another function and utilizes variables from the parent function’s scope. The power of the closure is revealed when that method (the inner function) is called, and values that normally wouldn’t be accessible are within “regional” scope and are thus able to be used as any other value.

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Posted by on June 13, 2011 in JavaScript, Scopes and Closures

 

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