A JavaScript equivalent to Ruby’s respond_to?

While working on the new version of Mayday, I wanted to show a message if no data was returned from Google Analytics. To add to the complexity, I wanted to be able to override the default message on a per page basis.

I’m already using the ICanHazJS client-side tempting engine which has a method for each template block on a page. However, if the page doesn’t have the block then the method won’t exist and an error will be thrown.

What I needed was functionality similar to Ruby’s respond_to. With this method I can ask the object if it will respond to the method call. For example:

Object.respond_to? ‘test’ #=> false
Object.respond_to? ‘to_s’ #=> true

Luckily this is just as easy to do in JavaScript using ‘in’

> ‘test’ in Object
> ‘toString’ in Object

This allowed me to write the following:

var e = $(‘#data’)
if(‘nodata’ in ich)
   e.append(‘No Data Found’);

If a nodata ICanHaz template block appears on the page then it will be rendered, otherwise it will fall back to the default. Problem solved.


Problem almost solved. As pointed out on Twitter by @nmosafi and @theprogrammer, just using ‘in’ along is not enough.  For example:

> Object.test = “test”
> ‘test’ in Object
> Object.test()
TypeError: Property ‘test’ of object function Object() { [native code] } is not a function

What you need to do is ensure that the property is also a function. Something I had assumed previously.

> ‘test’ in Object && typeof(Object.test) == “function”

> ‘toString’ in Object && typeof(Object.toString) == “function”

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