JavaScript closure inside loops – simple practical example

Well, the problem is that the variable i, within each of your anonymous functions, is bound to the same variable outside of the function.

What you want to do is bind the variable within each function to a separate, unchanging value outside of the function:

var funcs = [];

function createfunc(i) {
    return function() { console.log("My value: " + i); };
}

for (var i = 0; i < 3; i++) {
    funcs[i] = createfunc(i);
}

for (var j = 0; j < 3; j++) {
    funcs[j]();                        // and now let's run each one to see
}

Since there is no block scope in JavaScript – only function scope – by wrapping the function creation in a new function, you ensure that the value of “i” remains as you intended.


Update: with the relatively widespread availability of the Array.prototype.forEach function (in 2015), it’s worth noting that in those situations involving iteration primarily over an array of values, .forEach() provides a clean, natural way to get a distinct closure for every iteration. That is, assuming you’ve got some sort of array containing values (DOM references, objects, whatever), and the problem arises of setting up callbacks specific to each element, you can do this:

var someArray = [ /* whatever */ ];
// ...
someArray.forEach(function(arrayElement) {
  // ... code code code for this one element
  someAsynchronousFunction(arrayElement, function() {
    arrayElement.doSomething();
  });
});

The idea is that each invocation of the callback function used with the .forEach loop will be its own closure. The parameter passed in to that handler is the array element specific to that particular step of the iteration. If it’s used in an asynchronous callback, it won’t collide with any of the other callbacks established at other steps of the iteration.

If you happen to be working in jQuery, the $.each() function gives you a similar capability.

Update 2: ECMAScript 6 (ES6), the newest version of JavaScript, is now starting to be implemented in many evergreen browsers and backend systems. There are also transpilers like Babel that will convert ES6 to ES5 to allow usage of new features on older systems.

ES6 introduces new let and const keywords that are scoped differently than var-based variables. For example, in a loop with a let-based index, each iteration through the loop will have a new value of i where each value is scoped inside the loop, so your code would work as you expect. There are many resources, but I’d recommend 2ality’s block-scoping post as a great source of information.

for (let i = 0; i < 3; i++) {
    funcs[i] = function() {
        console.log("My value: " + i);
    };
}

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