JavaScript plus sign in front of function expression

04/03/2020 23:00:02

I’ve been looking for information about immediately invoked functions, and somewhere I stumbled on this notation:


Can someone explain to me what the + sign in front of the function means/does?

Verified Answer (1314 Votes)

11/12/2012 15:07:25

It forces the parser to treat the part following the + as an expression. This is usually used for functions that are invoked immediately, e.g.:

+function() { console.log("Foo!"); }();

Without the + there, if the parser is in a state where it's expecting a statement (which can be an expression or several non-expression statements), the word function looks like the beginning of a function declaration rather than a function expression and so the () following it (the ones at the end of the line above) would be a syntax error (as would the absense of a name, in that example). With the +, it makes it a function expression, which means the name is optional and which results in a reference to the function, which can be invoked, so the parentheses are valid.

+ is just one of the options. It can also be -, !, ~, or just about any other unary operator. Alternately, you can use parentheses (this is more common, but neither more nor less correct syntactically):

(function() { console.log("Foo!"); })();
// or
(function() { console.log("Foo!"); }());

Answer #2 (93 Votes)

11/12/2012 15:54:10

Subsidiary to @TJCrowder's answer, + is usually used to force numerical casting of a value as this SO answer explains. In this instance it is called the 'unary plus operator' (for ease of googling).

var num = +variant;

So in front of a function it can be a way to force the function's result to be interpreted as a number. I doubt it happens yet, but theoretically the JIT could use that to compile the function as a numerical-only function etc. However, to prevent the unary plus being a concatenation when used in a larger expression, you would need parentheses:

blah + (+(function(){ var scope; return "4"; })());
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