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JavaScript Variable Scope

Understanding variable scope is very important, because if you don't use scope properly, you could end up with unexpected results and a very confusing bug. The scope of a variable refers to the parts of the code from which it is visible. JavaScript has three scopes: global, local, and closure.

A variable that is declared outside any function definition has a global scope. It can be accessed and modified from any place in your script. A variable that is declared inside a function definition has a local scope. It is created every time code execution enters the function, and is destroyed every time code execution reaches the function. It cannot be accessed by any code outside the function.

<script>
// global definition of saying
var saying = "To fail to plan is to plan to fail."
 
function sayIt()
{  
   // local definition of saying
   var saying = "The harder you work, the luckier you get.";
   document.write(saying);
}

// calling function uses local declaration
sayIt();

// outside of function uses global declaration
document.write(saying);
</script>

Output:

The harder you work, the luckier you get. 
To fail to plan is to plan to fail. 

In the code above the variable saying is declared globally and locally. The function will access its local variable. The write statement outside the function will access the global variable.

<script>
// global definition of saying
var saying = "To fail to plan"
 
function sayIt()
{  
   saying += ", the luckier you get.";
   document.write(saying);
}

sayIt();
</script>

Output:

The harder you work, the luckier you get.

In the code above the variable saying is declared globally, but since the keyword var is not used inside the function, it accesses the globally declared saying variable, modifies it, and then writes it.

<script>
var saying = "To fail to plan is to plan to fail."

function parentSayit()
{
   var saying = "The harder you work";
   function sayIt()
   {
      saying += ", the luckier you get.";
      document.write(saying);
   }
   return sayIt;
}

var x = parentSayit();
x();
</script>  

Output:

The harder you work, the luckier you get.

In the code above, the variable saying is declared globally and locally. The variable saying declared within the function is private to the function and can't be accessed outside the function. But here we have a nested function, and nested functions can access variables within its parent function. So when the nested function sayIt modifies the variable saying, it's modifying the variable declared locally within its parent. This is referred to as closure.

The purpose of defining a function inside another function is to scope it to that function. In other words, it does all its work as if the code in the parent function was the entire script. But in the code above I have the parent function return a reference to its nested function, and then I execute that outside the parent function. This is just for instructional purposes and not something you would normally do.


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