iterator next method returning new object

Jason Orendorff jason.orendorff at gmail.com
Mon Mar 2 11:06:11 PST 2015


The most important things here are:

1.  Like all performance hacks, unless you've measured a speed
improvement under fairly realistic workloads, you shouldn't do this.

2.  Whenever you need a custom iterator, try writing a generator
instead. It's amazing. You can get the behavior you want in a fraction
of the developer time, with clearer and *much* smaller code.

As to your question, here are some (additional) seeds of doubt as requested:

-   Storing this object isn't entirely free. You have to create a
property (or closed-over variable, same deal, roughly) to stash it in,
and each time .next() is called, you have to access that property or
variable. Also, storing the object prevents the most-recently-iterated
value from being GC'd. (Normally this won't matter. It could matter if
you have thousands of iterators going at once, and each one is only
occasionally consulted.)

-   If the caller is a jerk, they might do something like freeze the
object (which means your .next() method will keep getting called
forever, since it can't set .done to true) or replace the .value
property with an accessor, and then perhaps your next() method would
throw or something. You probably never care about stuff like this, and
that's OK. Certain very rare users do have to care. Worse, your JS
engine's JIT does have to care.

-   The statement `return {value: v, done: false};` can't fail,
whereas `cachedObject.value = v` can fail, in the unlikely cases
described above, or can trigger a setter, and therefore may require
your JS engine to check something each time you do it. That's extra
work and it could slow things down.

-   The JS engine might be smart enough (if not now, then a year down
the road) to optimize away the temporary object created by `return
{value: v, done: false};`. If it does, then using a new object is
probably better for your JS engine's optimizer, because getting .value
or .done off of that object is *guaranteed* to produce `v` and
`false`, respectively, with no side effects and no possibility of
triggering any getters, setters, proxy traps, etc.

-j

On Sat, Feb 28, 2015 at 4:52 PM, Mark Volkmann
<r.mark.volkmann at gmail.com> wrote:
> I know there was a discussion about this recently, but I don't recall seeing a reason why it would be problem for a custom iterator to return the same object over and over with different values for the value and done properties. I tried this in some sample code using Traceur and Babel and it works fine. What are the potential problems with doing that?
>
> ---
> R. Mark Volkmann
> Object Computing, Inc.
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> es-discuss mailing list
> es-discuss at mozilla.org
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