Damián Franco Álvarez's blog

What's wrong with you, JavaScript?

Posted on 27/06/2013

Prototypal Object Orientation

Class-based object orientation is the most used approach to object orientation. JavaScript is the only mainstream language that has prototypes. I don’t want to say which one is better, just that I feel more confortable with classes. JavaScript prototypes can emulate class systems. In fact, there are many libraries for that.

Modules and Var declaration

JavaScript has no formal construct for namespaces. Module pattern (passing the namespace as an argument to an anonymous self-invoking function) is really helpful. Lexical scope and closures are nice, which allows the module pattern, but something as important as namespaces must be part of the language, don’t you think?

Another weird behaviour is related to the var keyword. If you declare a variable with var, it will belong to the local scope. If you don’t, its scope will be global with overwritting problems and performance penalty (the interpreter will look up the scope chain to find the global variable).


Event driven code is really common in JavaScript. Usually, if you don’t use promises or some stuffs like Flow-Based Programming (FBP), you define a callback that is passed as argument to a function that binds that function to an event, like DOM events in the browser or EventEmitter events in Nodejs. So, when you have a callback that binds another callback to another event that binds another callback to… and enclosed by the module pattern, you will see something like this:

    $("#my-button1").on("click", function(msg1)
        $("#my-button2").on("click", function(msg2)
            $("#my-button3").on("click", function(msg3)

I prefer indentation over braces and parenthesis, so the above code looks pretty ugly for me.

Dynamic typing and late binding

Delaying type-checking to runtime is nice for fast-prototyping and data intensive applications (generating types and behaviours based on runtime data). Not so many years ago, JavaScript was used as a toy language to add some animations, form validations and simple stuffs. AJAX changed it all. JavaScript has been growing up since then and nowadays it is used in bigger apps (databases, game engines, communications apps, multimedia apps..) that may have a high cyclomatic complexity. Since JavaScript just checks types and binds names in runtime, a stupid unnoticed error misnaming a variable or a method could slap your face in the worst moment (demo effect).

Static typing is not the holy grail, but it is safer. Haskell guys, as @EleDiaz , know that if Haskell code compiles, it is almost certain that it will work as expected.

And some web applications need performance. Doing some tasks in the compilation time (AOT), can give us, for example, a higher FPS value in our game.

Weak typing

Coercion plus dynamic typing results on a debugging hell. Many JavaScript programmers, I guess, have noticed that debugging JavaScript code is not easy. Many errors are hidden by implicit conversions. It might speed up development (in my opinion, it’s just true in the case of small apps; bigger applications require safety), but it slows down debugging by a higher factor.

Surprise behaviour

JavaScript is a joker. Let’s see:

var a = (7, 5); // -> a = 5
typeof({} + []) // -> "string"
typeof([] + {}) // -> "number"

"1" >= -Infinity // true
"A" >= -Infinity // false
"A" < -Infinity  // false

Despite of the fact that ES 6 has some new proposals to minify or solve these and other problems, there is another path to avoid them: use another programming language that targets JavaScript.

There are some new languages that try to hide the bad parts adding a syntax sugar layer keeping the JavaScript semantics. Other languages have a completely new syntax and semantics. And there is another option, compilers for old languages that generate JavaScript code.