why JavaScript methods are useful

Goal

Follow along to learn what methods are and how they are used.

Methods

You can think of a method as an action that a number, string or object can perform or have taken on it. There is an important difference between a method and a function. A function is a named block of code that can be invoked from anywhere within the code, but a method can’t be invoked unless it’s on a number, string or object.

Methods on numbers

Let’s change a number into exponential notation. Exponential notation is essentially just a way of shortening really long numbers, or really small numbers by removing their zeros. If you’re not familiar with exponential notation, here’s how it works. Take the number 42.5. In exponential notation, we write it 4.25 * 10. Or take 396.87, in exponential notation, that’s 3.9687 * 102. You can also write it as 3.9687e+2. Exponential notation makes it easy to write very large or very small numbers. For example, 1,000,000,000 becomes 1e+9, and 0.00000005 becomes 5e-8.

We can use JavaScript to easily change numbers into exponential notation by using the toExponential() method:

JavaScript

console.log(31415.92.toExponential());
"3.141592e+4"

You can also go in the other direction, and convert out of exponential notation by using the toFixed() method:

JavaScript

console.log(3.141e2.toFixed());
"314"

(Note here that 3.141e2 means the same thing as 3.141e+2). The toFixed() method will round to the nearest whole number. Here’s how we can tell it how many decimal places to use:

JavaScript

console.log(31.4.toFixed(2));
"31.40"

The 2 in the parentheses is an argument to the toFixed() method. Arguments provide a bit more information to methods to help them know what they’re supposed to do. In this case, the argument is optional. When a method doesn’t take an argument, or when the argument is optional and you aren’t using it, you still need the parentheses on the end - so you have to write 31.4.toFixed(2), not 31.4.toFixed.

Here’s another method that takes an argument:

JavaScript

console.log(5.12345.toPrecision(4));
"5.123"

You can also call a method on a variable, since the variable is just standing in for the number it represents:

JavaScript

let myNumber = 5.12345;
console.log(myNumber.toPrecision(4));
"5.123"

Methods on strings

You can call methods on strings, just like you can with numbers:

JavaScript

console.log("bar".toUpperCase());
"BAR"

Or even call the method on a variable assigned to a string:

JavaScript

let word = "foo";
console.log(word.concat("bar"));
"foobar"

Methods can be chained like this:

JavaScript

console.log("foo".concat("bar").toUpperCase());
"FOOBAR"

The concat() method (which concatenates, or combines, two strings) returns a string, which then has toUpperCase() called on it. Then, toUpperCase() returns the final result.

By the way, here’s a nice shortcut for the concat() method:

JavaScript

console.log("I like " + "coding");
"I like coding"

Or with variables:

JavaScript

let sentiment = "I love ";
let animal1 = "dogs";
let animal2 = "cats";

console.log(sentiment + animal1);
"I love dogs"
console.log(sentiment + animal2);
"I love cats"

String methods can take numbers as arguments, too:

JavaScript

console.log("Daniel".charAt(4));
"e"

Normally the fourth character in the word ‘Daniel’ would be ‘i’, but its ‘e’ here. That’s because computers start counting at zero. So “D” is the zeroth letter, and “i” is the third.

Conclusion

Methods are useful for manipulating strings or numbers. You can think of a method as an action that a number, string or object can perform or have taken on it. There is an important difference between a method and a function. A function is a named block of code that can be invoked from anywhere within the code, but a method can’t be invoked unless it’s on a number, string or object.

javascript
prototypical inheritance

prototypical inheritance in JavaScript is an object with methods and properties that are given to non-primitive types.

javascript
7 git commands that every developer should know.

An explanation on what is git and git commands everyone should know to be a sucessful developer.