Saketh Kowtha
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Articles by @sakethk

All about closure in javascript

Saketh Kowtha
ยทDec 6, 2021ยท

4 min read

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Hello all ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿป,

This article is all about closure in javascript.

Closure is not a easy topic. It will be confusing topic for beginners. In this article i will try to explain it easily.

What is a closure

According to MDN

A closure is the combination of a function bundled together (enclosed) with references to its surrounding state (the lexical environment). In other words, a closure gives you access to an outer functionโ€™s scope from an inner function. In JavaScript, closures are created every time a function is created, at function creation time.

According to Stackoverflow

A closure is a persistent scope which holds on to local variables even after the code execution has moved out of that block. Languages which support closure (such as JavaScript, Swift, and Ruby) will allow you to keep a reference to a scope (including its parent scopes), even after the block in which those variables were declared has finished executing, provided you keep a reference to that block or function somewhere.

It might confusing you again. Let's jump to javascript lexical scoping in a high level not in detail because lexical scoping is a huge concept i will try to publish article on it separately.

var title = "Devto"
function printTitle(){
 console.log(title)
}
printTitle() // Devto

The above snippet will print Devto in console. title variable is accessible in printTitle method because title variable is in printTitle parent scope. So if title and printTitle both are in single scope here i.e global scope

Consider the following snippet

function main(){
  var title = "Devto"
  function printTitle(){
   console.log(title)
  }
  printTitle() 
}
main() // Devto

The above snippet will print Devto in console but in this title and printTitle are not in global scope instead they are in main method scope.

Now checkout this example

var title = "Devto"
function main(){
  function printTitle(){
   console.log(title)
  }
  printTitle() 
}
main() // Devto

Same output but here the difference is title is in global scope and we are accessing it in printTitle method. So here the point is child's can access their parent / global level scope items. This is not only in javascript you can see this feature in other languages like Java, C#, C++ and Python etc..

We will the change above snippet

var title = "Devto"
function main(){
  return function printTitle(){
   console.log(title)
  }
}
const printTitleGlobal = main()
printTitleGlobal() // Devto

In javascript functions are First class objects means they are like variables. We can return any type of variable in a function so here we can return function itself because as i said it is also treated as a variable.

In the above snippet main method returning printTitle method and we are assigned it to printTitleGlobal variable and called that printTitleGlobal function. Indirectly we are calling printTitle function as title in global scope it is accessible in printTitle method so worked as expected.

Now Check the following snippet

function main(){
  var title = "Devto"
  return function printTitle(){
   console.log(title)
  }
}
const printTitleGlobal = main()
printTitleGlobal()

Can you guess the output ? It is same but here the craziest thing is title is in main method's scope but we are executing printTitleGlobal function in global scope . As per javascript lexical scope concept once the function is executed completely JS will clear the memory allotted for that. Here once main method is called it should clear all the references related to main method so JS should clear title, printTitle and main. As we stored printTitle in printTitleGlobal we can call that method anytime but that method has main method references which should be cleared after execution of main.

Then how it is printing "Devto" โ“.

That is what closure is โ—๏ธ

When ever we return any function in javascript. JS will not only return that method before returning it will find all the references required to that returned function it will pack all the references along with along with that function. We will call that pack as closure.

A closure is the combination of a function bundled together (enclosed) with references to its surrounding state (the lexical environment).

Now the above definition will make sense once we call main method it will give us a closure named main that closure will hold all the references required for printTitle and main method scope will get cleared after execution but still some of references required for printTitle are persistent in closure.

Checkout this screenshots: I have added two debuggers this is the screenshot taken at the time of first debugger which is in main method. Look at the call stack in the left side window and scope in right side. title is in local scope. This is as expected. Image description

Now time for second debugger which is inside printTitle method. main got cleared from call stack and in right side you can see Closure (main) it has title reference. This is the one holding reference of title which is being used in printTitle.

Image description

Hope you enjoyed it. Cheers!

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