Saturday, December 15, 2018

5.2 Creating Objects

There are a number of ways to create an object. The standard way of creating an instance of a class is to use the new constructor, which we will be covering in the next section. There is a special class that all classes are based off of called Object. This class can be used to create a new basic object which properties and methods can be attached to. To create an object using the new keyword is done as follows:

var myObj = new Object();

Properties can be added to an object by simply giving the property a value. This adds an interesting quirk to JavaScript programs as null indicates that an existing property has no current value attached to it while undefined means that the indicated property has not been attached to an object. For people use to typed languages this can be confusing as undefined and null are different things. You can check to see if a property is defined by using the following:

if (myObj.variable === undefined) 
// handle undefined variable here

Object Oriented programmers generally refer to functions that are part of an object as methods. As was discussed in Chapter 3, functions can be assigned to a variable. This means that to add a method to an object you simply need to add it as you would any other property. You can create a new function specifically for the object or you can use an already existing function and simply attach it to the object.

// here is a comomon function that will be shared by multiple objects
function printNRS() {
// we are grabbing an html element
var results = document.getElementById("testResults");
// now we are adding the info onto the text contained within the element
results.innerHTML += "
Name: " + + " Rank: " + this.rank +

" Serial Number:" + this.serialNumber; 

// Build first soldier by using an object and adding properties to it
var soldier1 = new Object(); = "Bob"
soldier1.rank = "Private";
soldier1.serialNumber = 12345;

// Methods can be added too
soldier1.printNRS = printNRS;
soldier1.makeCaptain = function() { this.rank = "Captain"};

Notice that in order to reference a property of the object that is calling the function, the this keyword is used. Scope works a bit different than in most other languages and is function based. This is why the function printNRS can access the properties of the object as it is called from that object so holds the object's scope. We will come back to this topic in a bit more detail when we cover closures in a later section.

As mentioned earlier, there is more than one way of creating an object. JavaScript has a shorthand way of creating properties and pairing them to values so that it is easier to create objects with multiple properties initialized. This feature of JavaScript was expanded upon to come up with the JSON data transfer format which is why many people refer to creating objects using key : value pairs as being in JSON format. This shorthand method simply lets you define the contents of the object by using {} to indicate the object and then placing the property name followed by a colon followed by the value. It is possible to have functions within this declaration. Once the object is created you can add additional properties or method as you did with the soldier1 object. So, lets create a second soldier:

var soldier2 = { name : "Doug", rank : "Captain", 
serialNumber : 23456, 
makeMajor : function() {

// adding addtional methods, such as this common method, is possible
soldier2.printNRS = printNRS;

JSON is an acronym and stands for JavaScript Object Notation. It was originally created as a data transfer standard between JavaScript and whatever language is being ran on the server-side. The idea is that objects get converted into strings to be transferred then converted into objects at the destination. It is much simpler and more condensed than XML so has largely replaced XML usage. If you are receiving JSON strings from a server or other input file you can easily convert the strings into JavaScript by using the built-in JSON class as is done to create our third soldier.

var soldier3 = JSON.parse('{ "name" : "Billy", "rank" : "General", "serialNumber" : 42}');
soldier3.printNRS = printNRS;

Manually creating multiple versions of what is essentially the same object does seem like a lot of work. There is a better way which we will cover in the next section.

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