Let, Const, and Block Scope

Why we needed more variable keywords

Many pixels have been spent covering the issues with using var in JavaScript. Many of these concerns have been mitigated by the use of strict mode and several coding techniques.

So while many JavaScript developers have been able to use tricks like IIFE to encapsulate variables, these are always hacky and cumbersome. Fundamentally, the problem lies in the scoping of variables declared with var and how it is possible to write code that references variables from an unsuspecting scope.

Block scope has always existed in JavaScript, but variables declared with var do not know about block scope. Declaring a block scope occurs anytime you see a set of curly braces {}, usually in connection with flow control statements (like if or for). To illustate this problem, we can create a block scope that causes a logic collision with some variables.

var day = 'Monday';
if (true) {
  var day = 'Tuesday';
console.log(day); // Tuesday

Since variables declared with var don't look at block scope, we are actually redeclaring the day variable. This may be a trival code example, but name collisions are harder to avoid in a larger codebase.

You likely know about this issue, but we can now create variables using let or const that are scoped to the block they are declared.


Using let and const is simple, you just put it in front of a variable name just like you do with var.

let myState = 'Texas';
const myName = 'Jeremy';

Using the let keyword, we can declare a variable that is limited to the current block scope and fix our issue from earlier.

var day = 'Monday';
if (true) {
  let day = 'Tuesday';
console.log(day); // Monday

This means that variable names from different block scopes will no longer collide.

Things to know

Cannot redeclare same variable name

If you have already declared a variable by a given name in a block, you cannot redeclare it.

function getMap() {
  let state = 'texas';
  // ...other code
  let state = 'montana'; // SyntaxError

Cannot reassign const

This is a tricky

const only applies to variable, not value

The restrictions of const do not carry through when you assign it to another value. That variable remains a pointer

const prop = 1;
const item = {
 prop: prop
item.prop = 2;


Additional Resources

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