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Undefined vs Null in JavaScript ๐Ÿค”

Undefined vs Null in JavaScript ๐Ÿค”

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KSE
ยทJan 27, 2022ยท

2 min read

Undefined vs Null in JavaScript

In last article we explained how to use variables in JavaScript but we also mentioned undefined, here we will try our best to explain to you what is undefined, what is the difference with null, why both are existing and we will give you some examples.

Undefined

In JavaScript, undefined means a variable has been declared but has not yet been assigned a value or assigned undefined :

// console.warn(notDeclared); // Impossible not defined
console.warn(typeof notDeclared); // logs : undefined

let test;
console.warn(test); // logs : undefined
console.warn(typeof test); // logs : undefined

const testConst = undefined;
console.warn(testConst); // logs : undefined
console.warn(typeof testConst); // logs : undefined

// Impossible, missing initializer in const declaration
/* const testConst2; 
console.warn(testConst2); // Broken code
console.warn(typeof testConst2); // Broken code */

Null

Unlike undefined, null is an assignment value, null can be assigned to a variable as a representation of no value :

const test = null;
console.warn(test); // logs : null
console.warn(typeof test); // logs : object

As you can see undefined and null are very different undefined is a type itself, and null seems like an object but no it is in reality a primitive value

To understand why null is not an object I will quote a sentence from the book Professional JavaScript for Web Developers : "You may wonder why the typeof operator returns 'object' for a value that is null. This was actually an error in the original JavaScript implementation that was then copied in ECMAScript. Today, it is rationalized that null is considered a placeholder for an object, even though, technically, it is a primitive value."

More examples

Sometimes JavaScript is fun, or horrible depending on how you feel ๐Ÿค’

console.warn(null === undefined); // logs : false
console.warn(null == undefined); // logs : true
console.warn(null === null); // logs : true

// null = 'value'; // Impossible ReferenceError
// let undefined = 'value'; Impossible trick :
// Identifier 'undefined' has already been declared

// /!\ DON'T DO THIS /!\
(function () {
  var undefined = 'wtf';
  console.warn(undefined, typeof undefined); // logs : wtf string
})();

// /!\ DON'T DO THIS /!\
(function (undefined) {
  console.warn(undefined, typeof undefined); // logs: wtf2 string
})('wtf2');

That's it for undefined and null !

In our next article you can learn how to use conditions in JavaScript ๐Ÿš€

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