Essential knowledge about what are Javascript functions with examples

by | Sep 2, 2019 | Javascript, Quick help

Function in programming is one of the most basic elements. It is a set of statements which perform some activity to get the result. In lots of cases, the action is performed using the data which are provided as an input. The statements in the function are executed every time function is invoked.

Functions are used to avoid repeating the same code. The idea is to gather tasks which are executed more than ones into a function and then call the function wherever you want to run that code.

Taking into consideration that function is such an important concept in Javascript I’m going to take a look at:

  • defining a function, 
  • calling a function, 
  • return statement,
  • parameters and arguments, 
  • arrow functions,
  • self-invoking functions.

* To check the code execution open the console in the browser and try to execute the code ( if you are using Google Chrome right-click on the page and select Investigate)

Defining a function

We may define functions in two different ways.

Defining a function as a function declaration always starts with the function keyword. Then we set the name of the function, followed by parameters in the parenthesis or empty parenthesis if there are no parameters needed. Next, the statement comes closed in curly braces ({}). Let’s take a look at a code example: 

function sayHi(name) {
    return'Hi'+name;
}

In the example above the function, the name is sayHiand the parameter is (name). It’s also worth to know that function defined by declaration can be used before its defined because it is hoisted. 

The other way to define a function is known as a function expression. This way, it’s possible to define a named and anonymous function as well. Also, hoisting doesn’t work in this case, so the function has to be defined first, and then it can be used. Most functions created with this method are assigned to a variable. Let’s take a look at the code example: 

var sayHi = function (name) {
    return 'Hi' + name;
}

In the example above function is assigned to variable sayHibut the function itself doesn’t have a name, so we may call this function anonymous. 

Calling a function

Now we know how we can define a function in Javascript with two methods, let’s find out how we can execute this function. Instead of call the function, we may say invoke the function, which is the term for the process of execution. 

So, how to call or invoke the function? 

To call the function from the previous example, we have to start from the name of the function followed with parenthesis with parameters:

function sayHi(name) {
    return 'Hi' + name;
}
sayHi('Peter');

In the code above we can see the name of the function sayHi followed by the expected parameter (Peter). Now the function should start and return Hi Peter string.

Return 

In the example above, our function returned a string with the parameter. Every function needs to return a result if there isn’t any return statement defined the function will return undefined. Let’s check it on an example:

// With return
function calc(a, b) {
    return a + b;
}
calc(1, 4) // returns 5

// Without return
function calc(a, b) {
  a + b;
}
calc(1, 4) // returns undefined

In the example above the first function returns the result of math operation, and the other one doesn’t have the return statement, which means it will return undefined

Parameters and arguments

Parameters and arguments are very ofter used alternately, but there is a difference between those two. Parameters are these names which we put into the parenthesis when defining a function, for example:

function name(param1, param2, param3) {
    // statement
}

In the example above parameters are param1, param2, and  param3. And in this case, there are no arguments yet.

Arguments are the values which are brought into the function by params. It’s what we put inside the function while invoking. Let’s see the example:

name('Mark', 'Peter', 'Kate');

In the example above the function from the previous example is called with the arguments now, and our arguments are  param1 = Mark, param2 = Peter, param3 = Kate.

There is one more thing worth to say if we are on the parameters and arguments topic. Sometimes it happens we are not sure how many arguments we are going to pass to our function. Then we may use argument object and then pass as many arguments as we need. Let’s take a look at how it works in real examples:

// Define a function with one param
function calc(num) {
    return 2 * num;
}

// Invoke the function with more params
calc(10, 5, 2);

In the example above, we defined a function with one parameter num and invoked it with more three arguments. Now the function will recognize num as the first passed argument, but we can treat the param as an array-like object:

// Define a function with one param assuming it's an object
function calc(num) {
    return 2 * num[0] * num[1];
}

// Invoke the function with more params
calc(10, 5, 2);

In this case, we defined a function with a parameter, which is going to be an object, and now we can use all the passed arguments. The function will do the following calculation according to the example above 2*10*5, taking a first and second argument.

Arrow functions

In ES6 arrow functions (=>) were introduced. An arrow function is nothing more than the shorter syntax for declaring function expression. Let’s take a look at the code example:

sayHi = (name) => { 
    // statement
}

In the code example above, we defined an arrow function sayHi with name parameter without using function keyword. In fact, having only one parameter, you can skip parenthesis.

Self-invoking functions

There is also one type of functions in Javascript, the self-invoking functions. These are anonymous functions which are invoked immediately after completion of the definition. The self-invoking function is placed inside an additional parenthesis and with extra pair of parenthesis at the end. Let’s take a look at the code:

(function (num1, num2) {
    return num1 + num2;
})();

In the example above, you can see that self-invoking function is a normal anonymous function with an additional two pairs of parenthesis.

Conclusion

In this article, I went through essential things about functions like defining functions using two different methods and invoking functions. I also explained the difference between parameters and arguments and described the usage of the arguments object. Besides, I went through arrow functions and self-invoking functions.

I hope this article will be useful to you. Try to create your own functions and play with different methods of defining and invoking.

Have fun with coding!

Thank you for reading!

This article was provided by our teammate Anna.

Start learning now!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!