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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