I don’t like JavaScript for many reasons, but I do have to use it on a daily basis. After writing shitty code for a while, I knew that I had to improve it because I was losing too much time trying to figure what my code was meant to do (lol).

After reading a lot of web tutorials and a book (Maintainable JavaScript, by Nicholas Zakas), I wrote my own guidelines (obviously, inspired on what others said) to guide myself and my slaves team. ;)

Apply correct indentation

Badly indented code is hard to read. Fact. I like using tabs/4 spaces for each indent level.

// bad code
input.keyup(function(e) {
if (e.keyCode == 13) {
 submitQuery();
}
});

// good code, properly indented
input.keyup(function(e) {
    if (e.keyCode == 13) {
        submitQuery();
    }
});

Always use semicolons

JavaScript has a featured called ASI - Automatic Semicolon Insertion - which automatically inserts missing semicolons. It usually works in a predictable way, but sometimes it will break your program. Therefore, it’s better to code defensively and always use semicolons

// broken code
var foo = function() {
    return
        { 'bar' : 'baz' }
}

// which is parsed as
var foo = function() {
    return;
        { 'bar' : 'baz' };
};

Don’t write long lines

Lengthy lines are harder to read, and they can lead to mistakes. I always try to wrap my code in 80 character lines, breaking the line when it reaches the limit, and indenting the next line two levels

// bad, yet valid code
var submitQuery = function() { keyword = input.val(); document.location.href = target + keyword; };

// more readable code
var submitQuery = function() {
    keyword = input.val();
    document.location.href = target + keyword;
};

Blank lines are for free

Use blank lines to separate related and unrelated code - it really makes the code more readable.

// bad, at first glance you can't tell what the code does
var checkboxes = $('input[name=message-check]:checked');
var action = $(this).data('action');
var ids = [];
checkboxes.each(function () {
    ids.push($(this).data('id'));
});
$.post(document.location, {
    id: ids,
    action: action
}, function(r) {
    document.location.reload();
});

// good, you can see clearly what the code does
var checkboxes = $('input[name=message-check]:checked');
var action = $(this).data('action');

var ids = [];
checkboxes.each(function () {
    ids.push($(this).data('id'));
});

$.post(document.location, {
    id: ids,
    action: action
}, function(r) {
    document.location.reload();
});

Camelcase or underscores are both good

Name your variable and functions either with camel case names or with underscore separated names. The important thing is that you maintain the only one style in your program.

// lowercase and underline
var myaccountbalance = 10;
var draw_cash_from_account = function() {
    ...
};

// camelcase
var myAccountBalance = 10;
var drawCashFromAccount = function() {
   ...
};

Constants should be constant

JavaScript has no real constants (no bitching, please), and the only way to differentiate them from regular variables is through style. The best way to define constant names is by using uppercase names separated by underlines.

// bad, not readable nor different from regular variables
var myconst = 3.14;

// bad, regular variable style
var myConst = 3.14;

// bad, not readable
var MYCONST = 3.14;

// good
var MY_CONST = 3.14;

Strings

Strings should be circled by single quotes so you don’t need to escape double quotes.

// escaping sucks
var quote = "\"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.\"";

// single quotes for da win :D
var quote = '"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without."';

Numbers

Integers pose no threat to the code reader, but decimals can be tricky. That’s why you should always include digits before and after the decimal point.

// is it 0.1 or the coder forgot something before the point?
var dec = .1;

// is it 1 or the coder forgot something after the point?
var dec = 1.;

// good, it leaves no room for doubts
var dec = 1.0;
var dec = 0.1;

Object literals

Don’t use new Object(). It’s too verbose, and {} makes your code more compact and readable.

// too verbose
var myObj = new Object();

// compact and readable
var myObj = {};

Array literals

Just like object literals, don’t use new Array(). [] does the same thing, is less verbose and makes your code more compact and readable.

// too verbose
var arr = new Array();

// compact and readable
var arr = [];

Comments

Comments should be used when something is unclear, and must be indented according the commented block. Multiline comments should use the /* */ delimiters.

// Loads user settings
settings = User.load_settings();

/* Extracts API settings */
api_settings = settings.ApiSettings;

/**
 * Loads user friends via AJAX
 * @var int     User ID
 * @var string  Output type (JSON, XML)
 */
function load_friends(user_id, output) {
// ...
};

Statements and expressions

Braces should be used in all block statements - this includes one line blocks.

// Good, more readable than when without braces
if (User.has_wumpus()) {
    User.hunt();
}

// Good
if (Wumpus.is_visible()) {
    User.show_options();
    Cave.describe();
}

// Bad
while (Wumpus.is_alive()) Game.run();

// Good
while (Wumpus.is_alive())
{
    Game.run();
}

Variables and functions

  • Enforce the language strict mode with “use strict”; - your code will be less error prone because the language standards will be enforced.
  • Declare all variables (when possible) at the top of a function, just like you’d do in C. Debugging and changing variables will be easier.
  • Declare functions before usage. JavaScript functions can be declared and used anywhere on the code, but declaring them before usage will make it easier for the reader to understand the logic of the program.
  • Always use the identity (=== and !==) operator instead of the equality (== and !=) operator to avoid type coercion.

Avoid null comparisons

Do not use the identity/equality operators to find empty values, i.e., comparing with null. This is tricky and can break your programs.

// Bad
if (foo === null) {
// ...
}

// Good
if (typeof foo === 'undefined') {
// ...
}

// Detecting reference values
if (foo instanceof Foo) {
// ...
}

For now, that’s all. ;)