{ Function Basics. }

Objectives:

By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Define what a function is and how they are essential in programming
  • Create functions using function declarations or function expressions
  • Explain how scope works in JavaScript and compare function, block and global scope
  • Understand what hoisting is and how the JavaScript compiler works when analyzing variables and functions

What is a function

A function is a repeatable process of procedure. A real world analogy of a function is the brew button on a coffee machine. The coffee machine has inputs (hot water, and coffee grounds), and outputs (hot coffee). When you press the button to brew a pot of coffee, you are starting a process that should return an expected output to you. The same thing is true in programming. A function takes a set of variables as inputs and returns a value as an output.

We have already seen many functions in action. For example, in the array chapter, we learned about push and pop. These are both functions that operate on an array. Consider the following example:

var arr = [5,4,3,2,1];
var poppedVal = arr.pop();
console.log(arr);
console.log(poppedVal);

In the example, we are using the pop function. It takes no inputs, and it returns a value which is the last item in the array that has been removed from the array. When you run the code in your console, you'll see the array is now [5,4,3,2] and the value of poppedVal is 1.

Declaring Functions

So far we have only used functions, but to be a knowledgeable JavaScript programmer, we need to learn to write our own functions as well. There are multiple ways to write functions in JavaScript. We will cover the differences in more detail later. For now, let's start with one way: a function declaration.

In general, we declare a function in the following way:

function anyNameYouWantForTheFunction() {
    // As many lines of code as you want
}

In general, this type of function syntax consists of four parts:

  1. The function keyword,
  2. The name of the function (in this case, anyNameYouWantForTheFunction),
  3. Any parameters for the function (we'll ignore this for now, but parameters will go inside of the parentheses after the function name),
  4. The function body (the code for the function, which lives inside of the curly braces).

It might seem silly, but it would be good to practice typing this syntax out a few times. You'll be writing functions constantly in JavaScript, so the syntax is something you should commit to muscle memory. Try typing these out:

function myFunction() {
}

function myOtherFunction() {
}

function yetAnotherFunction() {
}

function okayIGetItThisIsTheSyntaxForFunctions() {
}

The functions above aren't very interesting, because none of them have a function body. Let's look at an example of a function that actually does something:

// this is called the function definition - we are ONLY defining the function here
function firstFunction(){
    console.log("I just wrote my first function!");
}

Now we have declared a function called firstFunction, but we have not used the function yet. To execute the code within the function, we must invoke the function. A function is invoked by adding a () after the name of the function:

// to call or invoke the function
firstFunction();

If you run this code in the Chrome console, you will see the output is "I just wrote my first function" and on the next line, undefined. Next, we'll learn where the undefined is coming from.

Returning Values From Functions

In JavaScript, if we do not specifically tell the function to return something, it will return undefined when it is finished executing. So how do we tell a function to return something? We use the return keyword!

// this is called the function definition -
// we are ONLY defining the function here
function firstFunction(){
    return "I just wrote my first function!";
}

// to call or invoke the function
firstFunction(); // now we don't see undefined anymore!

Now our function is returning "I just wrote my first function". To capture that string, let's use a variable:

var returnValue = firstFunction();
console.log(returnValue);

Now in the console, you should see "I just wrote my first function". That is the value that was returned from our function call and that is now saved in the returnValue variable.

Remember, the return keyword can ONLY be used inside of a function. let's take a look at another example.

function secondFunction(){
    return "Hello";
    return "Goodbye";
}

secondFunction(); // "Hello"

We see from this example that the return keyword can only be executed once in a function. Once it is executed, the function is complete and no other lines of code will be executed.

Conditional Logic With Return Statements

Now that we have an idea of how functions work, let's explore a previous topic and see how we can refactor some boolean logic. Let's imagine we want to write a function that returns true if a random number is over .5 - otherwise the function should return false. Here is one way we can write it

function isOverPointFive(){
    if (Math.random() > .5){
        return true;
    } else {
        return false;
    }
}

This code will work just fine, but remember, the return keyword exits from a function. So if the random number is greater than .5 we will exit the function early and never reach the else condition. So we don't even need the "else" condition! We can refactor our code to look like this:

function isOverPointFive(){
    if(Math.random() > .5){
        return true;
    }
    return false;
}

Much better! If the number is greater than .5, return true and exit the function. Otherwise just return false.

Finally if we wanted to be really fancy - we could use a ternary operator!

function isOverPointFive(){
    return Math.random() > .5 ? true : false;
}

Simplifying it even further, we can take advantage of the fact that Math.random() > .5 returns true or false. So we don't actually need the ternary operator:

function isOverPointFive(){
    return Math.random() > .5;
}

Exercises

  • Write a function called myName that logs your full name. Save your full name to a variable inside of the function body, then use console.log to print your name to the console.

    myName(); // if your full name was Elie Schoppik this function would return "Elie Schoppik" 
    
  • Create an array called favoriteFoods which contains the strings "pizza" and "ice cream".

  • Write a function called randomFood. The function should use Math.random to randomly choose a favorite food in your favoriteFoods array to return. For example, your function will return either pizza or ice cream, depending on what you get back from Math.random.

    randomFood(); // either returns "pizza" or "ice cream"
    
  • Create a variable called numbers which is an array that contains the numbers 1 through 10.

  • Write a function called displayOddNumbers which iterates over the numbers array and console.logs out all of the numbers that are odd. Here is what that might look like:

    displayOddNumbers(); 
    
    // 1
    // 3
    // 5
    // 7
    // 9
    
  • Write a function called displayEvenNumbers which iterates over the numbers array and console.logs out all of the numbers that are even. Here is what that might look like:

    displayEvenNumbers(); 
    
    // 2
    // 4
    // 6
    // 8
    // 10
    
  • Create a function called returnFirstOddNumber which iterates over the numbers array and returns the first odd number it finds

    returnFirstOddNumber(); 
    
    // 1
    
  • Create a function called returnFirstEvenNumber which iterates over the numbers array and returns the first even number it finds

    returnFirstEvenNumber(); 
    
    // 2
    
  • Create a function called returnFirstHalf which returns the first half of the numbers array

    returnFirstHalf(); 
    
    // [1,2,3,4,5]
    
  • Create a function called returnSecondHalf which returns the second half of the numbers array

    returnSecondHalf(); 
    
    // [6,7,8,9,10]
    

Solutions

myName

function myName(){
    var myName = 'Elie Schoppik';
    console.log(myName);
}

randomFood

var favoriteFoods = ['pizza', 'ice cream'];
function randomFood(){
    // lets find a random number between 0 and 1 and multiply it by the length of the array. This will give us a number between 0 and 2. If we always round down, we will get either 0 or 1, so we can use Math.floor to round down.
    var randomIndex = Math.floor(Math.random() * favoriteFoods.length);
    console.log(favoriteFoods[randomIndex]);
}

displayOddNumbers

var numbers = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10];
function displayOddNumbers(){
    for(var i = 0; i < numbers.length; i++){
        // if the value we are at in the array is not divisible by 2 (it's an odd number)
        if(numbers[i] % 2 !== 0){
            // print out that value!
            console.log(numbers[i]);
        }
    }
}

displayEvenNumbers

var numbers = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10];
function displayEvenNumbers(){
    for(var i = 0; i < numbers.length; i++){
        // if the value we are at in the array is divisible by 2 (it's an even number)
        if(numbers[i] % 2 === 0){
            // print out that value!
            console.log(numbers[i]);
        }
    }
}

returnFirstOddNumber

var numbers = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10];
function returnFirstOddNumber(){
    for(var i = 0; i < numbers.length; i++){
        if(numbers[i] % 2 !== 0){
            // print out that value, using return gets us out of the function!
            return numbers[i];
        }
    }
}

returnFirstEvenNumber

var numbers = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10];
function returnFirstEvenNumber(){
    for(var i = 0; i < numbers.length; i++){
        if(numbers[i] % 2 === 0){
            // print out that value!
            return numbers[i];
        }
    }
}

returnFirstHalf

var numbers = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10];
function returnFirstHalf(){
    return numbers.slice(0,numbers.length/2);
}

returnSecondHalf

var numbers = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10];
function returnSecondHalf(){
    return numbers.slice(numbers.length/2);
}

When you're ready, move on to Function Parameters and Scope

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