`this` context lost in Javascript/Typescript

In Javascript, the context of this is often “lost”, but what it’s actually doing is indeed referencing the current scope it’s in at runtime. this Javascript behavior is a big reason why people dislike the language so much. Hater’s gon’ hate! Typescript offers an easy solution to this which compiles into the Javascript you would have had to written to resolve this.

Example


function Foo() { this.message = "Howdy"; this.shout = function () { alert(this.message); }; document.addEventListener('click', this.shout, false); } var foo = new Foo();

In this example we would expect clicking the document would alert “Howdy” but instead it alerts undefined… 👎!!!
…the same happens in Typescript:


class Foo { message: string = "Howdy"; shout(){ alert(this.message); } constructor(){ document.addEventListener('click', this.shout, false); } } let foo = new Foo();

The context of this is not what we want it to be!

Why?

The this within the shout function is referencing the document rather than the desired instance of Foo because shout is being executed within the document scope:


document.addEventListener('click', this.shout, false);

The fix

Typescript has given us ‘arrow function’ syntax to fix this:


class Foo { message: string = "Howdy"; shout = () => { alert(this.message); } constructor(){ document.addEventListener('click', this.shout, false); } }

Syntax-wise all that has changed is function() to () =>. In Javascript you would have had to do this (and infact this is what the above compiles into):


function Foo() { var _this = this; this.message = "Howdy"; this.shout = function() { alert(_this.message); }; document.addEventListener('click', this.shout, false); }

Storing a reference to this at the root of the class/function means there will be no confusion of what this it’s suppose to be. Another popular name for _this is/was that.

With Typescript, it does this for you at compile time and you can use this with confidence… 👍!!!