Proposal: anaphoric if and while syntax

Jordan Harband ljharb at
Wed Sep 14 22:41:24 UTC 2016

While I like the idea of making it simpler to restrict the scope of
variables, currently a reigning best practice is to never do assignment in
conditionals, since it can be an easy typo from `==` or `===`, and because
it conflates assignment with expression truthiness, harming readability.

This seems like it runs afoul of the latter, certainly, and I haven't yet
convinced myself whether it creates typo hazards (I'm thinking no, but
wanted to bring it up just in case).

On Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 3:14 AM, Danielle McLean <gopsychonauts at>

> On 14 September 2016 at 17:58:24, Viktor Kronvall
> (viktor.kronvall at at wrote:
> > Does this really need new semantic interpretation of the syntax? Using
> the `Array.prototype` methods `.forEach` and `.map` already mitigates this
> problem as far as I can tell by having a different bound variable (argument
> in this case) for each call.
> >
> > I agree that the behavior may be non-intuitive if you have a background
> coming from Java or C++ but the implications would be quite far-reaching
> and the backward compatibility with previous versions would be difficult to
> handle. Wouldn't this require a new 'use strict'-like mode?
> No, adding anaphoric if as I have described it will require neither
> new semantic interpretation of the syntax nor a new strictness
> directive. Currently, it is a syntax error to write a variable
> declaration within an `if` or `while` condition, so there is no valid
> code which contains the proposed syntax.
> Also note that under this proposal, declarations made using the `var`
> keyword would still be hoisted to function scope, *not* scoped to the
> body associated with the condition - i.e., there would be no semantic
> difference whatsoever between the following two snippets:
>     if (var stuff = doThings(stuff);
>     // equivalent to
>     var stuff;
>     if (stuff = doThings(stuff);
> Only declarations made with the newer `let` and `const` keywords,
> which are never hoisted to function scope anyway, would be narrowly
> scoped to the condition and its body.
>     if (let stuff = expr) doThings(stuff);
>     // equivalent to
>     {
>       let stuff = expr;
>       if (stuff) doThings(stuff);
>     }
> (An aside: as the last example demonstrates, the `if` or `while`
> statement body should not need braces to isolate the scope in this
> way. This is consistent with the current behaviour for declarations in
> loops.)
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