What does "javascript:void(0)" mean?

03/27/2020 04:00:02
<a href="javascript:void(0)" id="loginlink">login</a>

I've seen such hrefs many times, but I don't know what exactly that means.

Verified Answer (1016 Votes)

08/18/2009 11:23:10

The void operator evaluates the given expression and then returns undefined.

The void operator is often used merely to obtain the undefined primitive value, usually using “void(0)” (which is equivalent to “void 0”). In these cases, the global variable undefined can be used instead (assuming it has not been assigned to a non-default value).

An explanation is provided here: void operator.

The reason you’d want to do this with the href of a link is that normally, a javascript: URL will redirect the browser to a plain text version of the result of evaluating that JavaScript. But if the result is undefined, then the browser stays on the same page. void(0) is just a short and simple script that evaluates to undefined.

1016

Answer #2 (427 Votes)

08/18/2009 16:50:44

In addition to the technical answer, javascript:void means the author is Doing It Wrong.

There is no good reason to use a javascript: pseudo-URL(*). In practice it will cause confusion or errors should anyone try things like ‘bookmark link’, ‘open link in a new tab’, and so on. This happens quite a lot now people have got used to middle-click-for-new-tab: it looks like a link, you want to read it in a new tab, but it turns out to be not a real link at all, and gives unwanted results like a blank page or a JS error when middle-clicked.

<a href="#"> is a common alternative which might arguably be less bad. However you must remember to return false from your onclick event handler to prevent the link being followed and scrolling up to the top of the page.

In some cases there may be an actual useful place to point the link to. For example if you have a control you can click on that opens up a previously-hidden <div id="foo">, it makes some sense to use <a href="#foo"> to link to it. Or if there is a non-JavaScript way of doing the same thing (for example, ‘thispage.php?show=foo’ that sets foo visible to begin with), you can link to that.

Otherwise, if a link points only to some script, it is not really a link and should not be marked up as such. The usual approach would be to add the onclick to a <span>, <div>, or an <a> without an href and style it in some way to make it clear you can click on it. This is what StackOverflow [did at the time of writing; now it uses href="#"].

The disadvantage of this is that you lose keyboard control, since you can't tab onto a span/div/bare-a or activate it with space. Whether this is actually a disadvantage depends on what sort of action the element is intended to take. You can, with some effort, attempt to mimic the keyboard interactability by adding a tabIndex to the element, and listening for a Space keypress. But it's never going to 100% reproduce the real browser behaviour, not least because different browsers can respond to the keyboard differently (not to mention non-visual browsers).

If you really want an element that isn't a link but which can be activated as normal by mouse or keyboard, what you want is a <button type="button"> (or <input type="button"> is just as good, for simple textual contents). You can always use CSS to restyle it so it looks more like a link than a button, if you want. But since it behaves like a button, that's how really you should mark it up.

(*: in site authoring, anyway. Obviously they are useful for bookmarklets. javascript: pseudo-URLs are a conceptual bizarreness: a locator that doesn't point to a location, but instead calls active code inside the current location. They have caused massive security problems for both browsers and webapps, and should never have been invented by Netscape.)

427

Answer #3 (122 Votes)

08/18/2009 11:21:36

It means it’ll do nothing. It’s an attempt to have the link not ‘navigate’ anywhere. But it’s not the right way.

You should actually just return false in the onclick event, like so:

<a href="#" onclick="return false;">hello</a>

Typically it’s used if the link is doing some ‘JavaScript-y’ thing. Like posting an AJAX form, or swapping an image, or whatever. In that case you just make whatever function is being called return false.

To make your website completely awesome, however, generally you’ll include a link that does the same action, if the person browsing it chooses not to run JavaScript.

<a href="backup_page_displaying_image.aspx"
   onclick="return coolImageDisplayFunction();">hello</a>
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