So what is this – javascript

To the uninitiated this can be really confusing in JavaScript. Consider the following:


The code above logs this three times, but what is this?

The main source of confusion is a quirk of the language where depending on the invocation pattern this can be set to the global variable (e.g. window in a browser). But there are come other gotchas.

In the example above this is 3 different objects.

  • Window
  • ATest
  • Object

Function Invocation Patterns

In order to explain this we need to know what function invocation patterns are in JavaScript, of which there are 4.

  • method
  • function
  • constructor
  • apply/call

I’ve covered the first 3 above in my example


image In the method invocation patters, the method is called bare. Javascript assigns the global variable to this in this instance.


imageIn this constructor invocation pattern (i.e. new) this is assigned to the object getting created, ATest 


image In the function invocation pattern this is the enclosing type also, however this is just object in this case i.e. the object literal returned from ATest constructor.


I’m not covering this here but the Apply (and the call) invocation patterns basically let you set the value of this.

Note: Object Literal can be avoided in this example above as follows.
What we do is set the methods on this explicitly.



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