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8.4.1 Defining Your Own Function Properties

8.4.1 Defining Your Own Function Properties

Functions are not primitive values in JavaScript, but a specialized kind of object, which means that functions can have properties. When a function needs a “static” variable whose value persists across invocations, it is often convenient to use a property of the function, instead of cluttering up the namespace by defining a global variable. For example, suppose you want to write a function that returns a unique integer whenever it is invoked. The function must never return the same value twice. In order to manage this, the function needs to keep track of the values it has already returned, and this information must persist across function invocations. You could store this information in a global variable, but that is unnecessary, because the information is used only by the function itself. It is better to store the information in a property of the Function object. Here is an example that returns a unique integer whenever it is called:

// Initialize the counter property of the function object. // Function declarations are hoisted so we really can // do this assignment before the function declaration. uniqueInteger.counter = 0;

// This function returns a different integer each time it is called.

// It uses a property of itself to remember the next value to be returned.

function uniqueInteger() {

return uniqueInteger.counter++; // Increment and return counter property


As another example, consider the following factorial() function that uses properties of itself (treating itself as an array) to cache previously computed results:

// Compute factorials and cache results as properties of the function itself.

function factorial(n) {

if (isFinite(n) && n>0 && n==Math.round(n)) { // Finite, positive ints only

if (!(n in factorial)) // If no cached result

factorial[n] = n * factorial(n-1); // Compute and cache it

return factorial[n]; // Return the cached result


else return NaN; // If input was bad


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