author: Krasimir Tsonev

Hi there, I'm . Senior front-end engineer with over 13 years of experience. I write, speak and occasionally code stuff. Follow me on Twitter, GitHub, Facebook or LinkedIn

The return statement is not the end (but it should be)

Well, I kind of lied in the title of this article. Of course that it is the end of the function. Once we call return everything else after that is simply not executed. Ops … I did it again, I kind of lied again.

I was browsing some Babel code and I noticed something like that:

function doSomething (a, b) {
  var result = format(a + b);

  return result;

  function format(n) {
    return 'Result is: ' + n;
  }

}

Notice how we use the format function before calling return but its definition is after that. This is possible because of the JavaScript hoisting. It is important to define the function like function name (function declaration) and not var name = function (function expression). The following code for example doesn’t work:

function doSomething (a, b) {
  var result = format(a + b);

  return result;

  var format = function(n) {
    return 'Result is: ' + n;
  }

}

We get Uncaught TypeError: format is not a function error. When we use function expression the defined variable is indeed hoisted but its value not. Consider we have another snippet:

function doSomething () {
  console.log(format, nothing);

  return result;

  var format = function() {
    return 'Hello world';
  }
}

If we run it we’ll get ReferenceError: nothing is not defined because format is hoisted. Yes, its value is undefined but it is defined in the scope of the current function.

So, why we are talking about this stuff. Well, I think using function declaration after the return statement makes the code difficult to understand. We have to jump back and forth in the function’s body to understand what is going on. We read from top to bottom (normally) so it makes sense to see something defined and then used. Can this be considered as a anti-pattern?

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