Node.js Style Guide

This is a guide for writing consistent and aesthetically pleasing node.js code. It is inspired by what is popular within the community, and flavored with some personal opinions.

Table of contents

1 Tab for indention

Use 1 tab character for indenting your code and swear an oath to never mix tabs and spaces - a special kind of hell is awaiting you otherwise.

Newlines

Use UNIX-style newlines (\n), and a newline character as the last character of a file. Windows-style newlines (\r\n) are forbidden inside any repository.

Use Semicolons

According to scientific research, the usage of semicolons is a core value of our community. Consider the points of the opposition, but be a traditionalist when it comes to abusing error correction mechanisms for cheap syntactic pleasures.

80 characters per line

Limit your lines to 80 characters. Yes, screens have gotten much bigger over the last few years, but your brain has not. Use the additional room for split screen, your editor supports that, right?

Use single quotes

Use single quotes, unless you are writing JSON.

Right:

var foo = 'bar';

Wrong:

var foo = "bar";

Opening braces go on the same line

Your opening braces go on the same line as the statement.

Right:

if (true) {
  console.log('winning');
}

Wrong:

if (true)
{
  console.log('losing');
}

Also, notice the use of whitespace before and after the condition statement.

Method chaining

One method per line should be used if you want to chain methods.

You should also indent these methods so it's easier to tell they are part of the same chain.

Right:

User
  .findOne({ name: 'foo' })
  .populate('bar')
  .exec(function(err, user) {
    return true;
  });

Wrong:

User
.findOne({ name: 'foo' })
.populate('bar')
.exec(function(err, user) {
  return true;
});

User.findOne({ name: 'foo' })
  .populate('bar')
  .exec(function(err, user) {
    return true;
  });

User.findOne({ name: 'foo' }).populate('bar')
.exec(function(err, user) {
  return true;
});

User.findOne({ name: 'foo' }).populate('bar')
  .exec(function(err, user) {
    return true;
  });

Functions

// anonymous function expression
var anonymous = function() {
  return true;
};

// named function expression
var named = function named() {
  return true;
};

// immediately-invoked function expression (IIFE)
(function() {
  console.log('Welcome to the Internet. Please follow me.');
})();
// bad
if (currentUser) {
  function test() {
    console.log('Nope.');
  }
}

// good
var test;
if (currentUser) {
  test = function test() {
    console.log('Yup.');
  };
}
// bad
function nope(name, options, arguments) {
  // ...stuff...
}

// good
function yup(name, options, args) {
  // ...stuff...
}

Requires

// good
var http = require('http');
var fs = require('fs');

var async = require('async');
var mongoose = require('mongoose');

var Car = require('./models/Car');


// bad
var Car = require('./models/Car');
var async = require('async');
var http = require('http');
  // bad
  var Batmobil = require('./models/Car.js');

  // good
  var Batmobil = require('./models/Car');

Declare one variable per var statement

Declare one variable per var statement, it makes it easier to re-order the lines. However, ignore Crockford when it comes to declaring variables deeper inside a function, just put the declarations wherever they make sense.

Right:

var keys   = ['foo', 'bar'];
var values = [23, 42];

var object = {};
while (keys.length) {
  var key = keys.pop();
  object[key] = values.pop();
}

Wrong:

var keys = ['foo', 'bar'],
    values = [23, 42],
    object = {},
    key;

while (keys.length) {
  key = keys.pop();
  object[key] = values.pop();
}

Always check for errors in callbacks

Always check for errors and return if any errors in callbacks

//bad
database.get('pokemons', function(err, pokemons) {
  console.log(pokemons);
});

//good
database.get('drabonballs', function(err, drabonballs) {
  if (err) {
    // handle the error somehow, maybe return with a callback
    return console.log(err);
  }
  console.log(drabonballs);
});

Only throw in synchronous functions

Try-catch blocks cannot be used to wrap async code. They will bubble up to to the top, and bring down the entire process.

//bad
function readPackageJson (callback) {
  fs.readFile('package.json', function(err, file) {
    if (err) {
      throw err;
    }
    ...
  });
}

//good
function readPackageJson (callback) {
  fs.readFile('package.json', function(err, file) {
    if (err) {
      // Return the callback error
      return  callback(err);
    }
    ...
  });
}

Catch errors in sync calls

//bad
var data = JSON.parse(jsonAsAString);

//good
var data;
try {
  data = JSON.parse(jsonAsAString);
} catch (e) {
  //handle error - hopefully not with a console.log ;)
  console.log(e);
}

Use FIXME: and TODO: comment to annotate problems

Prefixing your comments with FIXME or TODO helps other developers quickly understand if you're pointing out a problem that needs to be revisited, or if you're suggesting a solution to the problem that needs to be implemented.

function Calculator() {

  // FIXME: shouldn't use a global here
  total = 0;

  return this;
}
function Calculator() {

  // TODO: total should be configurable by an options param
  this.total = 0;

  return this;
}

Whitespace rightway

// bad
function() {
∙∙∙∙var name;
}

// bad
function() {
∙var name;
}

// good
function() {
∙∙var name;
}
// bad
function test(){
  console.log('test');
}

// good
function test() {
  console.log('test');
}

// bad
dog.set('attr',{
  age: '1 year',
  breed: 'Bernese Mountain Dog'
});

// good
dog.set('attr', {
  age: '1 year',
  breed: 'Bernese Mountain Dog'
});
// bad
var x=y+5;

// good
var x = y + 5;
// bad
(function(global) {
  // ...stuff...
})(this);

// bad
(function(global) {
  // ...stuff...
})(this);↵
↵

// good
(function(global) {
  // ...stuff...
})(this);↵

Use lowerCamelCase for variables, properties and function names

Variables, properties and function names should use lowerCamelCase. They should also be descriptive. Single character variables and uncommon abbreviations should generally be avoided.

Right:

var adminUser = db.query('SELECT * FROM users ...');

Wrong:

var admin_user = db.query('SELECT * FROM users ...');

Use UpperCamelCase for class names

Class names should be capitalized using UpperCamelCase.

Right:

function BankAccount() {
}

Wrong:

function bank_Account() {
}

Use UPPERCASE for Constants

Constants should be declared as regular variables or static class properties, using all uppercase letters.

Node.js / V8 actually supports mozilla's const extension, but unfortunately that cannot be applied to class members, nor is it part of any ECMA standard.

Right:

var SECOND = 1 * 1000;

function File() {
}
File.FULL_PERMISSIONS = 0777;

Wrong:

const SECOND = 1 * 1000;

function File() {
}
File.fullPermissions = 0777;

Object / Array creation

Use trailing commas and put short declarations on a single line. Only quote keys when your interpreter complains:

Right:

var a = ['hello', 'world'];
var b = {
  good: 'code',
  'is generally': 'pretty',
};

Wrong:

var a = [
  'hello', 'world'
];
var b = {"good": 'code'
        , is generally: 'pretty'
        };

Use the === operator

Programming is not about remembering stupid rules. Use the triple equality operator as it will work just as expected.

Right:

var a = 0;
if (a !== '') {
  console.log('winning');
}

Wrong:

var a = 0;
if (a == '') {
  console.log('losing');
}

Use multi-line ternary operator

The ternary operator should not be used on a single line. Split it up into multiple lines instead.

Right:

var foo = (a === b)
  ? 1
  : 2;

Wrong:

var foo = (a === b) ? 1 : 2;

Do not extend built-in prototypes

Do not extend the prototype of native JavaScript objects. Your future self will be forever grateful.

Right:

var a = [];
if (!a.length) {
  console.log('winning');
}

Wrong:

Array.prototype.empty = function() {
  return !this.length;
}

var a = [];
if (a.empty()) {
  console.log('losing');
}

Use descriptive conditions

Any non-trivial conditions should be assigned to a descriptively named variable or function:

Right:

var isValidPassword = password.length >= 4 && /^(?=.*\d).{4,}$/.test(password);

if (isValidPassword) {
  console.log('winning');
}

Wrong:

if (password.length >= 4 && /^(?=.*\d).{4,}$/.test(password)) {
  console.log('losing');
}

Write small functions

Keep your functions short. A good function fits on a slide that the people in the last row of a big room can comfortably read. So don't count on them having perfect vision and limit yourself to ~15 lines of code per function.

Return early from functions

To avoid deep nesting of if-statements, always return a function's value as early as possible.

Right:

function isPercentage(val) {
  if (val < 0) {
    return false;
  }

  if (val > 100) {
    return false;
  }

  return true;
}

Wrong:

function isPercentage(val) {
  if (val >= 0) {
    if (val < 100) {
      return true;
    } else {
      return false;
    }
  } else {
    return false;
  }
}

Or for this particular example it may also be fine to shorten things even further:

function isPercentage(val) {
  var isInRange = (val >= 0 && val <= 100);
  return isInRange;
}

Name your closures

Feel free to give your closures a name. It shows that you care about them, and will produce better stack traces, heap and cpu profiles.

Right:

req.on('end', function onEnd() {
  console.log('winning');
});

Wrong:

req.on('end', function() {
  console.log('losing');
});

No nested closures

Use closures, but don't nest them. Otherwise your code will become a mess.

Right:

setTimeout(function() {
  client.connect(afterConnect);
}, 1000);

function afterConnect() {
  console.log('winning');
}

Wrong:

setTimeout(function() {
  client.connect(function() {
    console.log('losing');
  });
}, 1000);

Use slashes for comments

Use slashes for both single line and multi line comments. Try to write comments that explain higher level mechanisms or clarify difficult segments of your code. Don't use comments to restate trivial things.

Right:

// 'ID_SOMETHING=VALUE' -> ['ID_SOMETHING=VALUE', 'SOMETHING', 'VALUE']
var matches = item.match(/ID_([^\n]+)=([^\n]+)/));

// This function has a nasty side effect where a failure to increment a
// redis counter used for statistics will cause an exception. This needs
// to be fixed in a later iteration.
function loadUser(id, cb) {
  // ...
}

var isSessionValid = (session.expires < Date.now());
if (isSessionValid) {
  // ...
}

Wrong:

// Execute a regex
var matches = item.match(/ID_([^\n]+)=([^\n]+)/);

// Usage: loadUser(5, function() { ... })
function loadUser(id, cb) {
  // ...
}

// Check if the session is valid
var isSessionValid = (session.expires < Date.now());
// If the session is valid
if (isSessionValid) {
  // ...
}

Object.freeze, Object.preventExtensions, Object.seal, with, eval

Crazy shit that you will probably never need. Stay away from it.

Getters and setters

Do not use setters, they cause more problems for people who try to use your software than they can solve.

Feel free to use getters that are free from side effects, like providing a length property for a collection class.