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11.1.1 The Good Parts

11.1.1 The Good Parts

Douglas Crockford’s short book JavaScript: The Good Parts (O’Reilly) describes a JavaScript subset that consists of the parts of the language that he thinks are worth using. The goal of this subset is to simplify the language, hide quirks and imperfections, and ultimately, make programming easier and programs better. Crockford explains his motivation:

Most programming languages contain good parts and bad parts. I discovered that I could be a better programmer by using only the good parts and avoiding the bad parts.

Crockford’s subset does not include the with and continue statements or the eval() function. It defines functions using function definition expressions only and does not include the function definition statement. The subset requires the bodies of loops and conditionals to be enclosed in curly braces: it does not allow the braces to be omitted if the body consists of a single statement. It requires any statement that does not end with a curly brace to be terminated with a semicolon.

The subset does not include the comma operator, the bitwise operators, or the ++ and --operators. It also disallows == and != because of the type conversion they perform, requiring use of === and !== instead.

Since JavaScript does not have block scope, Crockford’s subset restricts the var statement to appear only at the top level of a function body and requires programmers to declare all of a function’s variables using a single var as the first statement in a function body. The subset discourages the use of global variables, but this is a coding convention rather than an actual language restriction.

Crockford’s online code-quality checking tool at includes an option to enforce conformance to The Good Parts. In addition to ensuring that your code uses only the allowed features, the JSLint tool also enforces coding style rules, such as proper indentation.

Crockford’s book was written before the strict mode of ECMAScript 5 was defined, but many of the “bad parts” of JavaScript he seeks to discourage in his book are prohibited by the use of strict mode. With the adoption of the ECMAScript 5 standard, the JSLint tool now requires programs to include a “use strict” directive when “The Good Parts” option is selected.

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