coding character sheets

Tricksy: More JavaScript Topics

Paul Stefko
Mar 31, 2022
We explore a few slightly more advanced bit of JavaScript as we prepare for our first worked example.
📕 6 min.

Don't be scared! There are just a couple more bits of JavaScript we should cover before we get to our example script. These are only a bit more advanced than what we've looked at before, but they're really useful (and funny enough, we use them in the example.)

Assignment Operators

We've talked about one of these before, the basic assignment operator =. But there are others that will save you time all over your scripts. Generally, if you would assign the value of an expression to one of the variables in that expression, you can rewrite that statement using an assignment operator by just adding an equal sign onto whatever operator you used in the expression.

For example, the following statements are functionally identical:

a = a + 2;
a += 2;

This includes all of the arithmetic operators (+=, -=, *=, /=), but it can also be used with logical operators like AND &&. So, in the case of a &&= b, a will remain true if both a and b are true, or become false if either a or b are false.

Arrow Functions

Sometimes you need the effects of a function, but only in one place in your script. You don't want to define a full function somewhere else for this one task. Enter the arrow function.

An arrow function is a shorthand that defines a function in a compact way. You can use it anywhere you would otherwise call a pre-defined function.

You start an arrow function with a list of parameters in parentheses (). This is followed by an equal sign and a close angle bracket =>. That's where the name comes from, because those two characters together look like an arrow, right? Then you have a set of curly braces {} and the code of the function inside.

The following two blocks of code are functionally identical:

function addToMax(a, b, c) {
if (a > b) {
return a + c;
else {
return b + c;

let addToMax = (a, b, c) => {
if (a > b) {
return a + c;
else {
return b + c;

There are a couple more space-saving rules around arrow functions. First, if you only have one argument, you don't need the parentheses (). (If your arrow function needs zero arguments, you need to put in a set of empty parentheses to signal you're starting an arrow function.) Second, if the body of your function would be a single return line, you don't need curly braces {} or return.

So, this function...

function double(a) {
return a * 2;

...can be reduced to this arrow function:

a => a * 2;

One of the more common uses for arrow functions is when you need to pass a function as an argument of another function. We'll see an example shortly.


Perhaps the best reason to use JavaScript on your page is to respond to user actions. Every time the user interacts with your page, it triggers an event. That means every time they click and so much more.

Your browser handles a lot of events on its own, but you will want to run your own code when the user takes certain actions. You do this by creating what's called an event listener. This basically attaches a function to an event on a specific element.

You create an event listener on any element with the addEventListener() method. This method takes two arguments: an event as a string, and a function (called the "callback function"). The callback function can take a single parameter sent from the listener, an Event object, that describes the event that triggered, what element it triggered on, and more.

This callback function is a perfect place for an arrow function. Instead of calling another function defined somewhere else in your script, you can write the callback function directly in the addEventListener() method.

let total = 0;
const plus = document.querySelector("#plus-button");
plus.addEventListener("click", () => total += 1);

Chaining Methods

A function can return just about any type of data, including an object. That object has methods and properties of its own, its methods might return objects, and so on. Using dot notation, you can reference the returned object of a method directly after the method call itself.

For example, the querySelectorAll() method on document and other elements returns a collection of child elements, a type of object called a NodeList. Let's say you don't care about the specific elements, you just want to store how many there are. A NodeList has a length property just like an array. You can assign that to a variable like so:

let divCount = document.querySelectorAll("div").length

You can keep going, chaining methods of the returned objects and doing operations down the chain, theoretically forever. If you do, you may want to add line breaks and indentation for readability. This is fine, as JavaScript is pretty forgiving about spacing. The one rule is that a semicolon ; always ends a statement. (That's why I generally end all of my statements with one, just in case.)

The following example uses chained array methods, including one with an arrow function, to find all of the fruits in an array that contain the string "apple", and stores them in a new array called apple in alphabetical order.

const fruits = ["pear", "pineapple", 
"mango", "apple", "banana"];
let apples = fruits
.filter(word => word.includes("apple"))


The Math object provides many useful methods for performing complex mathematical operations. For example, if you wanted to take a number x and drop all fractions, you would call Math.floor(x).

An important method for games is Math.random(). This returns a pseudo-random floating point number that is greater than 0 and less than 1. Obviously, it's really useful for games, and we'll use it as the core of our example. But you might be wondering how you could use a fraction less than 1.

If you have a range of whole numbers you want to choose from (like 1-6, the equivalent of rolling a six-sided die), first you call Math.random() and multiply the return by the highest number in the range. Then you use Math.floor() to drop the fractions you have left over. The result is a whole number from 0 to the highest number minus 1. Just add 1, and you have your random selection.

let deeSix = Math.floor(Math.random() * 6) + 1;


That was kind of a lot, wasn't it? Well, buckle in, because tomorrow, we'll put these pieces together and take a look at our example, a random table tool that selects an entry when you click the table. But seriously, it'll be good to see the kind of stuff you can do with this nonsense.