Non-method functions and this

Axel Rauschmayer axel at
Mon May 16 13:36:48 PDT 2011

> This breaks the web, so regardless of whether it's worth it, it's just not possible. Harmony and non-Harmony share a heap with the same built-in globals. If you change and Function.prototype.apply, you break the web.

I suspect that a new type for the new-style functions would have to be introduced anyway => not practical.

>> As an aside, I'm surprised that (ES5) JavaScript interprets the following as a method call:
>> (obj.method)(arg)
>> It seems like the temporary result of the expression obj.method includes a value for "this" (which is lost after making the assignment func = obj.method).
> That's not how the language is specified; there's no temporary variable introduced.
> Briefly: ES has been specified since time immemorial with a fictional kind of value known as a "Reference." You can think of this as a first-class lvalue: it's a value that encapsulates a reference to an assignable location (in the heap, or possibly the stack, depending on the implementation). Many operations in the language automatically dereference a reference value, i.e. retrieve the value it points to, so most of the time these reference values aren't something a JS program can get its hand on directly. But paren expressions don't automatically dereference their result, they just pass reference values on through to their containing expression.
> So in your example, the expression |obj.method| produces an "object reference" (roughly, a pointer to the |method| property of the |obj| object), and the paren expression just passes that object reference through to the call. The method call then uses the base object of the object reference, which is |obj|, as the |this|-binding.

Thanks for explaining the details. With "temporary result", I meant what you call "object reference". Similar to Common Lisp places (setf etc.), I suppose. If you use the conditional operator, you can force the dereferencing of an object reference:

(true ? obj.method : null)(arg)

Dr. Axel Rauschmayer

axel at


More information about the es-discuss mailing list