Arrow Functions

For more information on functions in JavaScript, please view the documentation.

Arrow functions are part of the ECMAScript 6 specification, so browser support may be limited. The following table shows the earliest browser versions that support arrow functions.

ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaOpera MiniSafari
451222Currently unavailable32Currently unavailable10

Arrow functions are a concise way of writing , lexically scoped functions in ECMAScript 2015 (ES6).

Introduction

In JavaScript, functions may be anonymously defined using the "arrow" (=>) syntax, which is sometimes referred to as a lambda expression due to .

The simplest form of an arrow function has its arguments on the left side of => and the return value on the right side:

item => item + 1 // -> function(item){return item + 1}

This function can be by providing an argument to the expression:

(item => item + 1)(41) // -> 42

If an arrow function takes a single parameter, the parentheses around that parameter are optional. For example, the following expressions assign the same type of function into :

const foo = bar => bar + 1;
const bar = (baz) => baz + 1;

However, if the arrow function takes no parameters, or more than one parameter, a new set of parentheses must encase all the arguments:

(() => "foo")() // -> "foo"

((bow, arrow) => bow + arrow)('I took an arrow ', 'to the knee...')
// -> "I took an arrow to the knee..."

If the function body doesn't consist of a single expression, it must be surrounded by brackets and use an explicit return statement for providing a result:

(bar => {
  const baz = 41;
  return bar + baz;
})(1); // -> 42

If the arrow function's body consists only of an object literal, this object literal has to be enclosed in parentheses:

(bar => ({ baz: 1 }))(); // -> Object {baz: 1}

The extra parentheses indicate that the opening and closing brackets are part of the object literal, i.e. they are not delimiters of the function body.

Lexical Scoping & Binding (Value of "this")

Arrow functions are lexically scoped; this means that their this Binding is bound to the context of the surrounding scope. That is to say, whatever this refers to can be preserved by using an arrow function.


Take a look at the following example. The class Cow has a method that allows for it to print out the sound it makes after 1 second.

class Cow {

  constructor() {
    this.sound = "moo";
  }

  makeSoundLater() {
    setTimeout(() => console.log(this.sound), 1000);
  }
}

const betsy = new Cow();

betsy.makeSoundLater();

In the makeSoundLater() method, the this context refers to the current instance of the Cow object, so in the case where I call betsy.makeSoundLater(), the this context refers to betsy.

By using the arrow function, I preserve the this context so that I can make reference to this.sound when it comes time to print it out, which will properly print out "moo".


If you had used a regular in place of the arrow function, you would lose the context of being within the class, and not be able to directly access the sound property.

Arguments Object

Arrow functions do not expose an arguments object; therefore, arguments would simply refer to a variable in the current scope.

const arguments = [true];
const foo = x => console.log(arguments[0]);

foo(false); // -> true

Due to this, arrow functions are also not aware of their caller/callee.

While the lack of an arguments object can be a limitation in some edge cases, rest parameters are generally a suitable alternative.

const arguments = [true];
const foo = (...arguments) => console.log(arguments[0]);

foo(false); // -> false

Implicit Return

Arrow functions may implicitly return values by simply omitting the curly braces that traditionally wrap a function's body if their body only contains a single expression.

const foo = x => x + 1;
foo(1); // -> 2

When using implicit returns, object literals must be wrapped in parenthesis so that the curly braces are not mistaken for the opening of the function's body.

const foo = () => { bar: 1 } // foo() returns undefined
const foo = () => ({ bar: 1 }) // foo() returns {bar: 1}

Explicit Return

Arrow functions can behave very similar to classic in that you may explicitly return a value from them using the return keyword; simply wrap your function's body in curly braces, and return a value:

const foo = x => {
  return x + 1;
}

foo(1); // -> 2

Arrow functions as a constructor

Arrow functions will throw a TypeError when used with the new keyword.

const foo = function () {
  return 'foo';
}

const a = new foo();

const bar = () => {
  return 'bar';
}

const b = new bar(); // -> Uncaught TypeError: bar is not a constructor...