Typical Noise

Alex Arnell

Coffee fueled terminal junky. A Software Developer with a strong passion for good software design and an unquenchable thirst for learning.

Support for Singletons Added

I recently received an emailed from Nicholas Barthelemy of http://www.nbarthelemy.com regarding a little method he had written for creating Singletons with my inheritance library. Using Singletons in Javascript is something I do quite frequently, but I have always thought about them in the traditional Javascript sense (more on this later). I'd like to thank Nicholas for sending his email and for sparking my interest in adding support for the more classical style of Singleton.

Now without further ado, for your coding pleasure...I introduce Class.singleton!

But first a little background...

In its most basic form, a singleton in Javascript can be written quite simply using basic object notation.

var Singleton = {
  property: 'value',
  someMethod: function() {
  otherMethod: function() {

You can however get a little fancier and include some private data with your Singleton by taking advantage of closures.

var FancySingleton = (function() {

  // private variables and functions
  var secret = 'top secret';

  function decodeSecrets() {
    // ...

  // return my public methods
  return {
    decrypt: function(code) {
      // public functions can access private
      // data and functions
      return decodeSecrets(code);

All this is great and you've probably seen this style of Javascript in many many locations. However, if you come from a classical inheritance background you may have noticed that this style of code more resembles a namespace, or a Ruby module, or just simply as a Class with a pile of static methods and properties. In fact, this style of Javascript can be used and is used to namespace code in many libraries current available.

In a classical pattern sense, a Singleton is a class that has at least one static method you can use to obtain the only instance of that class (See: Singleton Pattern). None of the examples previously shown have this. Class.singleton brings this classical approach back to Javascript.

In its most basic form Class.singleton can be used just like Class.extend (Class.create for those Prototype-ists).

// define your App's singleton
var Application = Class.singleton({
  initialize: function() {
    // initializer function, called only once
    this.member = 'an instance member';
  doSomething: function() {
    // ...

So far, aside from using a different method, this looks nothing different from Class.extend. However, there are actually quite a few differences. If you tried to access any of the public methods you defined an error will be thrown by the Javascript engine.

// will not work, JS throws error

If you were to inspect the Application object you might be a little worried since none of the methods you defined are actually attached to the Application object. In fact, it will contain only a single method getInstance. Just like you'd expect in the classical pattern, that getInstance function is used to obtain the only instance of Application class.

// get the instance
var app = Application.getInstance();

// will work now

I use a lazy loading technique to create the singleton instance the first time getInstance is called. This is when the initialize function that you defined will be called.

So what happens when you want to create a Singleton that inherits behavior from a base Singleton, or any Class for that matter. Well, that's just as simple as you would think. Again the parameter format matches Class.extend function.

// We need a better Application, that builds upon
// our existing Applications behaviours
var BetterApplication = Class.singleton(Application, {
  initialize: function() {
    // remember, I am called just once

    // call my parent constructor

    // initialize more members
    this.newMember = 'yet another member';

  // add more methods
  doMoreThings: function() {
    // ...

var better = BetterApplication.getInstance();

The above code will create a BetterApplication singleton object that inherits functionality from Application.

Long awaited project page arrives

Well, I finally got rid of my laziness. Well, at least for most of the weekend. The lame Inheritance.js project page has finally been updated. There is now some real content there, not just some lame page saying there is "more to come in just a little while". Head on over to pick up the javascript file and see the latest explanation of what Inheritance.js can do for you.

What''s in store for the future? Well, I''ve decided that I want to devote a portion of my free time, no matter how little there is, to working on open source software. I feel that I have a lot more I could contribute to the community of developers out there. I have my eyes on a few specific projects that I would like to get involved with, but we shall see if that works out. In terms of what the future holds for Inheritance.js, well I plan to get some sort of issue tracking system up in place. I don''t expect there to be many issues, but inevitably there will be. An issue tracking system would also be a great place for people to post suggestions for improvements and other ideas regarding the enhancement of this library. So stay tuned over the next little while for another update in that regard.

As a side note, I have submitted Inheritance.js as one of Prototype''s "best built-with-Prototype third-party libraries". With any luck, hopefully you''ll see Inheritance.js on the official Prototype list when it comes out.