Overriding assignment operator in JS

var myObject = {"myKey" : "myValue"}
typeof(myObject.myKey) returns `string`

myObject.myKey = "newValue"
console.log(myObject.myKey) prints newValue

This is the expected behavior. But, similar value writes do not work for document.cookie

typeof(document.cookie) returns `string`

But performing document.cookie = "value=123", appends to document.cookie string rather than set its value to value=123

So, how is assignment to document.cookie overridden?


document.cookie is a little magical, but depending on your browser constraints, you an use Object.defineProperty to define properties that have different get and set behavior.

For example:

var obj = {};

Object.defineProperty(obj, "data", {
    get: function() {return this.val; },
    set: function(val) { this.val = JSON.stringify(val); }

obj.data = {a:1}; // Set as an object...
console.log(obj.data) // but retrieve as string '{"a":1}'

For example, to do something similar to the cookie example, you could make a function like:

var mixinExtender = (function mixinExtender(target) {
  var rawValue = {};

  Object.defineProperty(target, "data", {
    get: function() { return JSON.stringify(rawValue); },
    set: function(val) { 
      for(var key in val) {
        rawValue[key]  = val[key];

This will mixin in a data property that will extend the setter value into a private object. The getter will return a serialized version of it. Then you could use it with:

var obj = {};

obj.data = {a:1};      // Add "a" key
obj.data = {b:2};      // Add "b" key
console.log(obj.data)  // > {"a":1,"b":2} 

Browser-supplied host objects behave in ways that are not constrained by the semantics of the language. That is, document looks like a JavaScript object, but it's not. It's part of the runtime environment.

The JavaScript spec is written in terms of various internal "method" descriptions. Host objects like window and document have special versions of those internal methods. Thus, the runtime follows the spec as to how the = assignment process works, but the internal method [[Put]] is simply special.

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