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11. November 2007

Safe fun with Object.prototype.

Lets look at two "shortcommings" of Javascript in todays browsers. The first is that you should stay away from Object.prototype (so as not to break other peoples programs). The second is that Javascript only has a single thread. We can fix the first using the advantage of the second.

My idea is that if we have a process that would benefit from extending Object.prototype, then we can do this during the time we are processing. Afterwards we simply remove the extensions and everything is back to normal.

Object.prototype.toHTML = htmlGenerationFunction;
delete Object.prototype.toHTML;

This trick won't work on browsers that don't implement the delete operator (IE3), and it's going to be a pain if hasOwnProperty isn't supported either (Safari 1 and IE5.0). But if you're not supporting those browsers then you can consider this trick (test yours here).

I've thrown together a toJSON converter using this method. Admittedly, the code is no cleaner than the original example, but it works, will use native methods where available, and proves the concept.

Published: 11. November 2007. Tagged: , .