For consistency, use the Standard JS/TS validation tools.

Standard TS/JS

After many years dealing with style guides for various languages, the conclusion is that the style itself is less important than applying it consistently.

So, for the xPack JavaScript source files to be consistent, the first requirement is to pass the Standard JS validation tools, which also have a TypeScript variant (ts-standard)

After this, the main recommendations are:

  • use the ECMAScript 6 specifications (ES 6),
  • if the module does something reasonably complex, the module public functions must be asynchronous,
  • asynchronous functions must use promises (and definitely avoid callbacks),
  • reentrancy should be seriously considered (avoid module-global variables).

The xPack project preferences

Prefer TypeScript to JavaScript

This is Rule no. 1, that overrides all other rules.

If JavaScript code must be still used in some places, prefer ES6 solution.

Definitely avoid using old style code.

Use classes as much as possible

Even if the new syntax is mostly syntactic sugar, and internally things behave as strangely as they did in the first JavaScript versions, still use the new class syntax at large; it is much cleaner and improves readability.

Use promises instead of callbacks

Really. No callbacks at all. Use promises. Actually use async/await.

Use async/await for asynchronous calls

Once async/await became standard, and the V8 engine added support for them, there is no reason for not using async/await.

Wrap old legacy code using callbacks into promises and execute them with await.

Use static class members for sharing

Modules are singletons; using module variables is like using static variables in a multi-threaded environment; they may provide a way of sharing common data between multiple instances of objects created inside the same module, but if not handled correctly this may have unexpected results.

The general recommendation is to make the modules reentrant. In practical terms, do not use module-global variables at all; make the module export a class, and create instances of it whenever needed; for sharing data between instances, use static class members.

Do not restrict export to a single function or class

Bad style:

module.exports = function () {
	return /[\u001b\u009b][[()#;?]*(?:[0-9]{1,4}(?:;[0-9]{0,4})*)?[0-9A-ORZcf-nqry=><]/g;
};
...
const func = require('name')

Apart from being unnamed, returning a single function prevents future extensions, for example exporting a second function from the same module would mandate all modules that use the first function via require() to be updated to require().func1, which may cause many headaches to developers.

module.exports.func1 = function () {
	return /[\u001b\u009b][[()#;?]*(?:[0-9]{1,4}(?:;[0-9]{0,4})*)?[0-9A-ORZcf-nqry=><]/g;
};
module.exports.func2 = function () { ... }
...
const { func1 } = require('name')

The recommendation is to always return functions or preferably classes as properties of the module.exports object, and get them individually by name.

Prefer static classes to group methods

Prepare your module to export multiple functions; group them (by functionality) either below a parent object, or, even better, in classes with static members.

The main advantage of this scheme is that adding new exports will only change the interface incrementally, minimising the risk to break backward compatibility.

Use the spread operator

Th spread operator expands an iterable into its member objects. It also works with arrays and objects

  • Create array copies
const arr1 = [1, 2 3]
const arr2 = [...arr1]
  • Concatenate arrays
const arr1 = [1, 2 3]
const arr2 = [4, 5 6]
const arr3 = [...arr1, ...arr2]
  • Enumerate object properties
class Base {
  constructor (args) {
    super({
      name: 'tree',
      parent: null,
      ...args
    })
  // ...
}

Iterate over an Array

For very simple loops, (one-two lines), use forEach():

const iterable = [10, 20, 30];

iterable.forEach((value) => {
  console.log(value)
})

Debug note: Visual Studio Code is able to step into the lambda function.

For more complex loops, use for ... of.

let iterable = [10, 20, 30]

for (const value of iterable) {
  console.log(value)
}
// 10
// 20
// 30

If the value needs to be changed, use let:

let iterable = [10, 20, 30];

for (let value of iterable) {
  value += 1
  console.log(value)
}
// 11
// 21
// 31

If the last value of the variable is needed outside the loop, define the variable before the loop:

let value
for (value of iterable) {
  // ...
}
console.log(value)

Do not use for ... in since it iterates over the enumerable properties, which include inherited properties (use .hasOwnProperty() to filter them out).

Iterate over the keys of an Object

If the order is not important, iterate over the keys or the entries:

// array like object with random key ordering
var anObj = { 100: 'a', 2: 'b', 7: 'c' };
console.log(Object.keys(anObj)); // ['2', '7', '100']
console.log(Object.entries(anObj)); // [ ['2', 'b'], ['7', 'c'], ['100', 'a'] ]

for (const [key, value] of Object.entries(anObj)) {
  console.log(key, value)
}
// 2 b
// 7 c
// 100 a

Check if object is Array

Array.isArray([1, 2, 3]);  // true

MDN

Check if object is String

isString (x) {
  return Object.prototype.toString.call(x) === '[object String]'
}

Check if object

isObject (x) {
  return typeof x === 'object' && !Array.isArray(x)
}

Please note that null is also an object, and everything created with new is also an object, including:

  • new Boolean(true)
  • new Number(1)
  • new String('abc')

MDN

Use Map to guarantee the order of the values

Although maps can be conveniently implemented with regular objects, the specs do not guarantee the insert order to be preserved.

If the order is important, or if the object need to store other properties too, use a Map.

Make node exports/imports look like ES6 exports/imports

Assuming classes are preferred, the EC6 syntax for export/import would look like:

export class WscriptAvoider { ... }
...
import { WscriptAvoider } from 'wscript-avoider.js'

So, to stay close to this syntax, the recommendation is to preserve the original module.exports object, and add properties to it, preferably classes, even if they have only static members.

To import them, the syntax uses the explicit classs name:

const WscriptAvoider = require('wscript-avoider').WscriptAvoider
WscriptAvoider.quitIfWscript(appName)

Cases like import { WscriptAvoider as Xyz } from 'wscript-avoider.js' would be naturally represented as:

const Xyz = require('wscript-avoider').WscriptAvoider
Xyz.quitIfWscript(appName)

In case the class is not static, instantiate it as usual.

Call exactly the class method

If a method of a class is overridden, calling it from the base class actually calls the derived method (run-time polymorphism).

To ensure the local function, use the function prototype:

class Base {
  constructor () {
    Base.prototype.clear()
  }

  clear () {
    // ...
  }
}

Pack function parameters as objects

For functions with more than 1 parameter, pack them in an object:

class Base {
  /**
   * @param {Object} params The generic parameters object.
   */
  f1 (params) {
    assert(params, 'There must be params.')

    assert(params.name)
    console.log(params.name)
  }

  f2 () {
    f1 ({
      name: value1,
      type: value2
    })
  }
}

Use copy/move constructors & support methods

Make the constructor accept a from parameter, to use it as a source when creating the object.

The default behaviour is to make a copy of the original object.

Add a doMoveAll: true to instruct a move operation; be sure original references are cleared (set to undefined).

Alternatively use copyFrom(from) and possibly appendFrom(from).

Use a clear() method to clear the object content (it might be useful during tests).

Use a separate location for private variables

To reduce clutter, group the private variables below a _private object.

No need to end the name of the variables with _.

Use a separate location for cached variables

If the object uses local cached objects, group them below a _cache object. Initialise it to an empty object in the constructor an in the clear() method.

No need to end the name of the variables with _.

class Base {
  constructor () {
    this._cache = {}
  }

  clear () {
    this._cache = {}
  }
}

Self

When a reference to the static methods or variables is needed, to make things explicit, prefer to define a Self variable.

From within regular methods, use:

// Explicit uppercase, to be obvious when a static property/method is used.
const Self = this.constructor

From within other static methods, use:

// Explicit uppercase, to be obvious when a static property/method is used.
const Self = this

From Understanding ECMAScript 6

The main specifications to be followed are those of ES 6; they override all other older specifications and style guides.

Block bindings

Use const by default, and only use let when you know a variable’s value needs to change

Functions

Use default parameters.

const makeRequest = function (url, timeout = 2000, callback = function() {}) {
  // the rest of the function
}

const add = function (first, second = getValue(first)) {
  return first + second
}

Use rest parameters.

const pick = function (object, ...keys) {
  let result = Object.create(null)
  for (let i = 0, len = keys.length; i < len; i++) {
    result[keys[i]] = object[keys[i]]
  }
  return result
}

The Function constructor.

var add = new Function("first", 'second = first',
                 'return first + second')
console.log(add(1, 1))     // 2
console.log(add(1))        // 2

JavaScript has two different internal-only methods for functions: [[Call]] and [[Construct]]. When a function is called without new, the [[Call]] method is executed, which executes the body of the function as it appears in the code. When a function is called with new, that’s when the [[Construct]] method is called. The [[Construct]] method is responsible for creating a new object, called the instance, and then executing the function body with this set to the instance. Functions that have a [[Construct]] method are called constructors.

const Person = function (name) {
  if (this instanceof Person) {
    this.name = name
  } else {
    throw new Error('You must use new with Person.')
  }
}
var person = new Person('Nicholas')
var notAPerson = Person.call(person, 'Michael')    // works!

Block-level functions

'use strict'

if (true) {
  console.log(typeof doSomething) // throws an error
  let doSomething = function () {
    // empty
  }
  doSomething()
}
console.log(typeof doSomething)

Arrow functions are functions defined with a new syntax that uses an arrow (=>)

  • No this, super, arguments, and new.target bindings The values of this, super, arguments, and new.target inside the function are defined by the closest containing non-arrow function
  • Cannot be called with new Arrow functions do not have a [[Construct]] method and therefore cannot be used as constructors. Arrow functions throw an error when used with new.
  • No prototype Because you can’t use new on an arrow function, there’s no need for a prototype. The prototype property of an arrow function doesn’t exist.
  • Can’t change this The value of this inside the function can’t be changed. It remains the same throughout the entire life cycle of the function.
  • No arguments object Because arrow functions have no arguments binding, you must rely on named and rest parameters to access function arguments.
  • No duplicate named parameters Arrow functions cannot have duplicate named parameters in strict or non-strict mode, as opposed to non-arrow functions, which cannot have duplicate named parameters only in strict mode.
let sum = (num1, num2) => num1 + num2
// effectively equivalent to:
let sum = function(num1, num2) {
  return num1 + num2
};

Enhanced Object Functionality

It is now possible to modify an object’s prototype after it has been created thanks to ECMAScript 6’s Object.setPrototypeOf() method.

In addition, you can use the super keyword to call methods on an object’s prototype. The this binding inside a method invoked using super is set up to automatically work with the current value of this.

From npm’s “funny” coding style

As the name implies, some of them are funny, but some are still useful.

Line length

Keep lines shorter than 80 characters

Indentation

Indentation is two spaces

Curly braces

Curly braces belong on the same line

const f = function () {
  while (foo) {
    bar()
  }
}

Semicolons

Don’t use semicolons, except when required; for example to prevent the expression from being interpreted as a function call or property access, respectively.

;(x || y).doSomething()
;[a, b, c].forEach(doSomething)

Comma first

Put the comma at the start of the next line, directly below the token that starts the list

const magicWords = [ 'abracadabra'
                 , 'gesundheit'
                 , 'ventrilo'
                 ]
  , spells = { 'fireball' : function () { setOnFire() }
             , 'water' : function () { putOut() }
             }
  , a = 1
  , b = 'abc'
  , etc
  , somethingElse

Quotes

Use single quotes for strings except to avoid escaping

const ok = 'String contains "double" quotes'
const alsoOk = "String contains 'single' quotes or apostrophe"
const paramOk = `Back quotes string with ${parameter}`

Whitespaces

Put a single space in front of ( for anything other than a function call

Functions

Use named functions.

  • always create a new Error object with your message (new Error('msg'))
  • logging is done using the npmlog utility

Case, naming, etc

  • use lowerCamelCase for multi-word identifiers when they refer to objects, functions, methods, properties, or anything not specified in this section
  • use UpperCamelCase for class names (things that you’d pass to “new”)
  • use all-lower-hyphen-css-case for multi-word filenames and config keys
  • use named functions, they make stack traces easier to follow
  • use CAPS_SNAKE_CASE for constants, things that should never change and are rarely used

null, undefined, false

  • boolean variables and functions should always be either true or false
  • when something is intentionally missing or removed, set it to null
  • don’t set things to undefined
  • boolean objects are verboten

Exceptions

For the native Node.js callback usage, never to ever ever throw anything. It’s worse than useless. Just send the error message back as the first argument to the callback.

But for the modern ES 6 promise usage, exceptions are fine.

From Node.js modules

Modules

Modules are a way of preventing multiple JavaScript units to pollute the global namespace.

Objects defined at root level in a module are not global, but belong to the module; the usual name for this is module-global.

Caching

Modules are cached after the first time they are loaded. This means (among other things) that every call to require(‘foo’) will get exactly the same object returned, if it would resolve to the same file. Multiple calls to require('foo') will not cause the module code to be executed multiple times.

From this point of view, modules behave like singletons; they can also be compared to static classes in C++.

Leaving status at the module level can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on the environment used to run the module. In server environments, using module-global variables is like using static variables in a multi-threaded environment, if not handled correctly it may have unexpected results.

Exports

To make some functions and objects visible outside the module, you can add them as properties to the special modules.exports object:

const PI = Math.PI
module.exports.area = (r) => PI * r * r
module.exports.circumference = (r) => 2 * PI * r

Although you can rewrite the module.export to be a single function (such as a constructor), still prefer to add them as properties to the object and refer to them explicitly in the require() line:

const square = require('./square.js').square
const mySquare = square(2)
console.log(`The area of my square is ${mySquare.area()}`)

module.exports.area = (width) => {
  return {
    area: () => width * width
  }
}

If you want to export a complete object in one assignment instead of building it one property at a time, assign it to module.exports.

Accessing the main module

When a file is run directly from Node.js, require.main is set to its module. That means that you can determine whether a file has been run directly by testing

require.main === module

The module wrapper

Before a module’s code is executed, Node.js will wrap it with a function wrapper that looks like the following:

module = ... // an object for the current module
module.export = {} // an empty object
exports = module.export // a reference to the exports; avoid using it
__filename = '/x/y/z/abc.js'
__dirname = '/x/y/z'
(function (exports, require, module, __filename, __dirname) {
  // Your module code actually lives in here
});

In each module, the module variable is a reference to the object representing the current module. module isn’t actually a global but rather local to each module.

The module.exports object is created by the Module system. Sometimes this is not acceptable; many want their module to be an object of their own. To do this, assign the desired export object to module.exports.

For convenience, module.exports is also accessible via the exports module-global. Note that assigning a value to exports will simply rebind the local exports variable, which is probably not what you want to do; if the relationship between exports and module.exports seems like magic to you, ignore exports and only use module.exports.

Note that assignment to module.exports must be done immediately. It cannot be done in any callbacks.

Global objects

These are really objects, available in all modules. (see Node.js Globals)

  • global
  • process
  • console
    • console.log('msg') - writes ‘msg’ to stdout
    • console.warn('msg') - writes ‘msg’ to stderr
    • console.error('msg') - writes ‘Error: msg’ to stderr
    • console.assert(value, 'msg')

The Spread syntax

According to JavaScript ES6— The Spread Syntax (…):

  • The spread syntax is simply three dots: ...
  • It allows an iterable to expand in places where 0+ arguments are expected.

Useful cases:

  • inserting Arrays
var mid = [3, 4];
var arr = [1, 2, ...mid, 5, 6];

console.log(arr);
  • Math
var arr = [2, 4, 8, 6, 0];
var max = Math.max(...arr);

console.log(max);
  • Copy an Array
var arr = ['a', 'b', 'c'];
var arr2 = [...arr];

console.log(arr2);
  • String to Array
var str = "hello";
var chars = [...str];

console.log(chars);

Preferred:

Other links:

Linting Tools

Preferred (used automatically by Standard):

  • ESLint, but indirectly via the ‘Standard JS’ tools.

Other links:


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