arguments.callee in Harmony

Breton Slivka zen at
Thu Sep 24 17:04:48 PDT 2009

On Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 9:26 AM, Brendan Eich <brendan at> wrote:
> On Sep 24, 2009, at 4:06 PM, Charles Jolley wrote:
>> I'm curious, why not just give anonymous functions a default name like
>> "callee".  Or perhaps have "callee" defined in a function scope to represent
>> the function?  That seems to be exactly the same as the above; it just makes
>> it easier for developers.  Is there a perf issue here?
> No, there's simply a backward compatibility problem. Anonymous functions do
> not inject any such name on the scope chain (in any object, new or expected,
> on the scope chain). Changing the language to inject callee (even in an ES5
> declarative envirnment frame) is not backward compatible and probably will
> break some content out there that uses callee in an outer scope to mean
> something else.
> /be
> _______________________________________________
> es-discuss mailing list
> es-discuss at

this discussion reminds me a little bit of the aspect oriented pattern
that has been used in javascript on occasion. The idea there is that
it's possible to replace a function with a wrapped version of the
function that has the original function in the outer scope.

So for instance:

var myarray = [3,4,5];
myarray.toString = (function () {
       var ofunc = myarray.toString;
       return function () {
            return "Extended toString: "+ofunc.apply(this,arguments);

myarray.toString(); //returns "Extended toString: 3,4,5"

This pattern can be generalised:

function extendFunc (object, methodname, func) {
    var ofunc = object[methodname];
    object[methodname]=function () {
        return func.apply(object,[ofunc].concat(arguments));


you can see that in that version, the new function recieves the old
function as its first parameter.

Now, my specific implementation has almost certainly got some flaws in
it (not a lot of error checking or robustness), I'm sure- and people
will argue about the details. It's the basic idea of aspect
orientation that I'm trying to get at here.

The reason I'm bringing this up though is that this is a simple highly
general building block that can be used to build the super
abstraction, I believe (among many other useful abstractions). It's
also implementable in current ecmascript, and it's something that
could become canonized as a native function in a future version of
ecmascript- similar to the array extras that were first in the
prototype library, but are now in ecmascript 5.

There might be even more clever ways to build it so that it doesn't
require an extra parameter (using "with" perhaps?) that could be used
now, but built in native code and optimised in future editions.
Anyway, I just thought I would put that out there for discussion.

More information about the es-discuss mailing list