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JavaScript Pocket Reference, 3rd Edition by David Flanagan

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Chapter 5. Objects

JavaScript’s fundamental datatype is the object. An object is a composite value: it aggregates multiple values (primitive values or other objects) and allows you to store and retrieve those values by name. An object is an unordered collection of properties, each of which has a name and a value. Property names are strings, so we can say that objects map strings to values. This string-to-value mapping goes by various names: you are probably already familiar with the fundamental data structure under the name “hash,” “hashtable,” “dictionary,” or “associative array.” An object is more than a simple string-to-value map, however. In addition to maintaining its own set of properties, a JavaScript object also inherits the properties of another object, known as its “prototype.” The methods of an object are typically inherited properties, and this “prototypal inheritance” is a key feature of JavaScript.

JavaScript objects are dynamic—properties can usually be added and deleted—but they can be used to simulate the static objects and “structs” of statically typed languages. They can also be used (by ignoring the value part of the string-to-value mapping) to represent sets of strings.

Any value in JavaScript that is not a string, a number, true, false, null, or undefined is an object.

Objects are mutable and are manipulated by reference rather than by value: if the variable x refers to an object, and the code var y = x; is executed, the variable y holds a reference to the same ...

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