A fresh look at JavaScript Mixins

(Russian, Japanese)

In this article I’ll explore JavaScript mixins in detail, and introduce a less conventional, but to my mind more natural mixin strategy that I hope you’ll find useful. I’ll finish up with a profiler matrix summarizing the performance impact of each technique. [A big Thank You to the brilliant @kitcambridge for reviewing and improving the code on which this blog is based!]
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Delegation vs Inheritance in JavaScript

When asked what he might do differently if he had to rewrite Java from scratch, James Gosling suggested that he might do away with class inheritance and write a delegation only language.

Using inheritance as a vehicle for code reuse is a bit like ordering a happy meal because you wanted the plastic toy. Sure a circle is a shape and a dog is a mammal – but once we get past those textbook examples most of our hierarchies get arbitrary and tenuous – built for manipulating behaviour even as we pretend we are representing reality. Successive descendants are saddled with an ever increasing number of unexpected or irrelevant behaviours for the sake of re-using a few.

Delegation is a technique that promotes code reuse by allowing runtime function invocation in the context of a specific instance – regardless of the hierarchical lineage of instance and function. JavaScript has excellent support for Delegation in the form of call and apply which lets us inject an object into the this value of any function. This permits unfeterred code sharing, free from the constraints of unwieldy, unnatural and overly complex hierarchies.

I’m going to demonstrate, by way of a use case, how call and apply can promote a clean, functional approach code to re-use. Then I’ll discuss how the ES 5 specification enables re-use of built-in functions by formalizing the concept of generic functions.

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Understanding JavaScript Prototypes.

(en EspaƱol)

JavaScript’s prototype object generates confusion wherever it goes. Seasoned JavaScript professionals, even authors frequently exhibit a limited understanding of the concept. I believe a lot of the trouble stems from our earliest encounters with prototypes, which almost always relate to new, constructor and the very misleading prototype property attached to functions. In fact prototype is a remarkably simple concept. To understand it better, we just need to forget what we ‘learned’ about constructor prototypes and start again from first principles.
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Five ways to create objects – part 2: Inheritance

Let me start by saying I think inheritance is somewhat overrated in JavaScript. A lot of the inheritance you are going to need is already created for you: Function, String, Number etc. all inherit Object via its prototype.

I actually wonder if more energy goes into intellectual exercises around JavaScript inheritance than into using inheritance for real time solutions. Yes, JavaScript has an excellent inheritance mechanism but lets face it all those examples with furry animals, hierarchies of wheeled vehicles and the like have little real world application in client side coding.

How often do your new objects really need to inherit from other new objects you have created? By its nature the client object modelling is essentially flat (like your monitor). If you find yourself in JavaScript creating complex java-style object models with layers of inheritance then you might want to ask yourself why. Ajax allowed us to defer to the server where we used to have to clone our business/server logic on the client. I’d argue such complex data structures are best left to the server, because they perform better, are more easily distributed across subsystems and are probably more suited to classical OOP.

With that said, JavaScript does offer a very nifty inheritance strategy – there are no classes – objects inherit from objects. Period. It’s clean and its simple.

So here goes..

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