JavaScript – Functions As Namespaces

Recall from Function Scope and Hoisting that JavaScript has
function scope: variables declared within a function are visible
throughout the function (including within nested functions) but do not
exist outside of the function. Variables declared outside of a
function are global variables and are visible throughout your
JavaScript program. JavaScript does not define any way to declare
variables that are hidden within a single block of code, and for this
reason, it is sometimes useful to define a function simply to act as a
temporary namespace in which you can define variables without
polluting the global namespace.

Suppose, for example, you have a module of JavaScript code that
you want to use in a number of different JavaScript programs (or, for
client-side JavaScript, on a number of different web pages). Assume
that this code, like most code, defines variables to store the
intermediate results of its computation. The problem is that since
this module will be used in many different programs, you don’t know
whether the variables it creates will conflict with variables used by
the programs that import it. The solution, of course, is to put the
code into a function and then invoke the function. This way, variables
that would have been global become local to the function:

function mymodule() {
  // Module code goes here.
  // Any variables used by the module are local to this function
  // instead of cluttering up the global namespace.
mymodule();  // But don't forget to invoke the function!

This code defines only a single global variable: the function
name “mymodule”. If defining even a single property is too much, you
can define and invoke an anonymous function in a single

(function() {  // mymodule function rewritten as an unnamed expression
  // Module code goes here.
}());          // end the function literal and invoke it now.

This technique of defining and invoking a function in a single
expression is used frequently enough that it has become idiomatic.
Note the use of parentheses in the code above. The open parenthesis
before function is required because
without it, the JavaScript interpreter tries to parse the function keyword as a function declaration
statement. With the parenthesis, the interpreter correctly recognizes
this as a function definition
expression. It is idiomatic to use the parentheses, even when they are
not required, around a function
that is to be invoked immediately after being defined.

Example 8-3 demonstrates this namespace
technique. It defines an anonymous function that returns an extend() function like the one shown in
Example 6-2. The code in the anonymous function tests
whether a well-known Internet Explorer bug is present and, if so,
returns a patched version of the function. In addition, the anonymous
function’s namespace serves to hide an array of property names.

Example 8-3. The extend() function, patched if necessary

// Define an extend function that copies the properties of its second and 
// subsequent arguments onto its first argument.
// We work around an IE bug here: in many versions of IE, the for/in loop
// won't enumerate an enumerable property of o if the prototype of o has 
// a nonenumerable property by the same name. This means that properties
// like toString are not handled correctly unless we explicitly check for them.
var extend = (function() {  // Assign the return value of this function 
    // First check for the presence of the bug before patching it.
    for(var p in {toString:null}) {
        // If we get here, then the for/in loop works correctly and we return
        // a simple version of the extend() function
        return function extend(o) {
            for(var i = 1; i < arguments.length; i++) {
                var source = arguments[i];
                for(var prop in source) o[prop] = source[prop];
            return o;
    // If we get here, it means that the for/in loop did not enumerate
    // the toString property of the test object. So return a version
    // of the extend() function that explicitly tests for the nonenumerable
    // properties of Object.prototype.

    // This is the list of special-case properties we check for
    var protoprops = ["toString", "valueOf", "constructor", "hasOwnProperty",
                      "isPrototypeOf", "propertyIsEnumerable","toLocaleString"];   
    return function patched_extend(o) {
        for(var i = 1; i < arguments.length; i++) {
            var source = arguments[i];
            // Copy all the enumerable properties
            for(var prop in source) o[prop] = source[prop];

            // And now check the special-case properties
            for(var j = 0; j < protoprops.length; j++) {
                prop = protoprops[j];
                if (source.hasOwnProperty(prop)) o[prop] = source[prop];
        return o;


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