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Code Snippets: And in the darkness bind() them

Posted on Thursday, June 18, 2015

This post is part of a series of blog posts called code snippets. These blog posts will explore successively more interesting ways to do simple tasks or abuse language features.

Javascript’s bind() method (new to ES5) is very useful for passing callbacks or event handlers that use an existing this.

It also has some more confusing uses, especially when combined with call() or apply().

If you have an array of functions, and you want to execute every function in the array, you can write

myFuncs.forEach(function(f) { f(); });

However, all you’re really doing is calling .call() on every function in the array. Therefore, you would instead want to write


However, this won’t work, because call() calls the function in its this parameter (ie,, not its first argument. This code would end up running, myFuncs[0], 0, myFuncs);

This will throw a TypeError, since call() can only be called on a function.

What you actually want to run is, myFuncs[0], ...);

In other words, you want to call call() and pass your function as its this (before any other parameters). To make forEach() do that, you need to bind call() to itself:


To make this code shorter (and even more confusing), note that since Function is itself an instance of Function, you can skip the prototype and reference call directly:


You can make it even shorter by referencing call from a shorter function:


(other short function names, such as Date or isNaN, would also work)

Side note: Please, don’t do that.

This technique effectively “uncurries” the this parameter from a function. It takes call(), which accepts the function to call as this, and produces a function that accepts the function to call as its first normal parameter (and ignores this). You can use the same technique for other prototype functions. For example, you can turn Array.push into a standalone function that mutates its first parameter:

var pushInto =;

var myArray = [1, 2];
pushInto(myArray, 3);
console.log(myArray); // 1,2,3

Or you can take an array of strings and turn them to uppercase:

["a", "b"].map(;

You can also do even more confusing things by bind()ing bind itself. For example, you can simplify the above examples by wrapping the bound call in its own function:

var uncurryThis = Function.bind.bind(;
var copyArray = uncurryThis(Array.prototype.slice);

var array = [1, 2, 3];
var copy = copyArray(array);

This works by binding bind() to have call as its this parameter, so that the resulting function becomes call.bind(). I’ve seen this trick in actual production code, in the most popular Javascript promise library (it was eventually replaced with an explicit version for performance reasons).

You can take an array of objects, and turn it into an array of functions bound to those objects:

var elements = [document.head, document.body];
var cloners =;
var clone0 = cloners[0]();

This takes an array of elements and creates an array of functions that will clone those elements on each call. It works by binding bind() to bind cloneNode(); it ends up calling cloneNode.bind(array[x]).

Side note: With great power comes great responsibility. Just because you can write code like this doesn’t mean you should.

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