Are there constants in JavaScript?


Is there a way to use constants in JavaScript?

If not, what's the common practice for specifying variables that are used as constants?

Since ES2015, JavaScript has a notion of const:

const MY_CONSTANT = "some-value";

This will work in pretty much all browsers except IE 8, 9 and 10. Some may also need strict mode enabled.

You can use var with conventions like ALL_CAPS to show that certain values should not be modified if you need to support older browsers or are working with legacy code:

var MY_CONSTANT = "some-value";

Are you trying to protect the variables against modification? If so, then you can use a module pattern:

var CONFIG = (function() {
     var private = {
         'MY_CONST': '1',
         'ANOTHER_CONST': '2'
     };

     return {
        get: function(name) { return private[name]; }
    };
})();

alert('MY_CONST: ' + CONFIG.get('MY_CONST'));  // 1

CONFIG.MY_CONST = '2';
alert('MY_CONST: ' + CONFIG.get('MY_CONST'));  // 1

CONFIG.private.MY_CONST = '2';                 // error
alert('MY_CONST: ' + CONFIG.get('MY_CONST'));  // 1

Using this approach, the values cannot be modified. But, you have to use the get() method on CONFIG :(.

If you don't need to strictly protect the variables value, then just do as suggested and use a convention of ALL CAPS.


The const keyword is in the ECMAScript 6 draft but it thus far only enjoys a smattering of browser support: http://kangax.github.io/compat-table/es6/. The syntax is:

const CONSTANT_NAME = 0;

"use strict";

var constants = Object.freeze({
    "?": 3.141592653589793 ,
    "e": 2.718281828459045 ,
    "i": Math.sqrt(-1)
});

constants.?;        // -> 3.141592653589793
constants.? = 3;    // -> TypeError: Cannot assign to read only property '?' …
constants.?;        // -> 3.141592653589793

delete constants.?; // -> TypeError: Unable to delete property.
constants.?;        // -> 3.141592653589793

See Object.freeze. You can use const if you want to make the constants reference read-only as well.


IE does support constants, sort of, e.g.:

<script language="VBScript">
 Const IE_CONST = True
</script>
<script type="text/javascript">
 if (typeof TEST_CONST == 'undefined') {
    const IE_CONST = false;
 }
 alert(IE_CONST);
</script>

ECMAScript 5 does introduce Object.defineProperty:

Object.defineProperty (window,'CONSTANT',{ value : 5, writable: false });

It's supported in every modern browser (as well as IE ? 9).

See also: Object.defineProperty in ES5?


No, not in general. Firefox implements const but I know IE doesn't.


@John points to a common naming practice for consts that has been used for years in other languages, I see no reason why you couldn't use that. Of course that doesn't mean someone will not write over the variable's value anyway. :)


In JavaScript, my preference is to use functions to return constant values.

function MY_CONSTANT() {
   return "some-value";
}


alert(MY_CONSTANT());

Mozillas MDN Web Docs contain good examples and explanations about const. Excerpt:

// define MY_FAV as a constant and give it the value 7
const MY_FAV = 7;

// this will throw an error - Uncaught TypeError: Assignment to constant variable.
MY_FAV = 20;

But it is sad that IE9/10 still does not support const. And the reason it's absurd:

So, what is IE9 doing with const? So far, our decision has been to not support it. It isn’t yet a consensus feature as it has never been available on all browsers.

...

In the end, it seems like the best long term solution for the web is to leave it out and to wait for standardization processes to run their course.

They don't implement it because other browsers didn't implement it correctly?! Too afraid of making it better? Standards definitions or not, a constant is a constant: set once, never changed.

And to all the ideas: Every function can be overwritten (XSS etc.). So there is no difference in var or function(){return}. const is the only real constant.

Update: IE11 supports const:

IE11 includes support for the well-defined and commonly used features of the emerging ECMAScript 6 standard including let, const, Map, Set, and WeakMap, as well as __proto__ for improved interoperability.


If you don't mind using functions:

var constant = function(val) {
   return function() {
        return val;
    }
}

This approach gives you functions instead of regular variables, but it guarantees* that no one can alter the value once it's set.

a = constant(10);

a(); // 10

b = constant(20);

b(); // 20

I personally find this rather pleasant, specially after having gotten used to this pattern from knockout observables.

*Unless someone redefined the function constant before you called it


with the "new" Object api you can do something like this:

var obj = {};
Object.defineProperty(obj, 'CONSTANT', {
  configurable: false
  enumerable: true,
  writable: false,
  value: "your constant value"
});

take a look at this on the Mozilla MDN for more specifics. It's not a first level variable, as it is attached to an object, but if you have a scope, anything, you can attach it to that. this should work as well. So for example doing this in the global scope will declare a pseudo constant value on the window (which is a really bad idea, you shouldn't declare global vars carelessly)

Object.defineProperty(this, 'constant', {
  enumerable: true, 
  writable: false, 
  value: 7, 
  configurable: false
});

> constant
=> 7
> constant = 5
=> 7

note: assignment will give you back the assigned value in the console, but the variable's value will not change


Group constants into structures where possible:

Example, in my current game project, I have used below:

var CONST_WILD_TYPES = {
    REGULAR: 'REGULAR',
    EXPANDING: 'EXPANDING',
    STICKY: 'STICKY',
    SHIFTING: 'SHIFTING'
};

Assignment:

var wildType = CONST_WILD_TYPES.REGULAR;

Comparision:

if (wildType === CONST_WILD_TYPES.REGULAR) {
    // do something here
}

More recently I am using, for comparision:

switch (wildType) {
    case CONST_WILD_TYPES.REGULAR:
        // do something here
        break;
    case CONST_WILD_TYPES.EXPANDING:
        // do something here
        break;
}

IE11 is with new ES6 standard that has 'const' declaration.
Above works in earlier browsers like IE8, IE9 & IE10.


You can easily equip your script with a mechanism for constants that can be set but not altered. An attempt to alter them will generate an error.

/* author Keith Evetts 2009 License: LGPL  
anonymous function sets up:  
global function SETCONST (String name, mixed value)  
global function CONST (String name)  
constants once set may not be altered - console error is generated  
they are retrieved as CONST(name)  
the object holding the constants is private and cannot be accessed from the outer script directly, only through the setter and getter provided  
*/

(function(){  
  var constants = {};  
  self.SETCONST = function(name,value) {  
      if (typeof name !== 'string') { throw new Error('constant name is not a string'); }  
      if (!value) { throw new Error(' no value supplied for constant ' + name); }  
      else if ((name in constants) ) { throw new Error('constant ' + name + ' is already defined'); }   
      else {   
          constants[name] = value;   
          return true;  
    }    
  };  
  self.CONST = function(name) {  
      if (typeof name !== 'string') { throw new Error('constant name is not a string'); }  
      if ( name in constants ) { return constants[name]; }    
      else { throw new Error('constant ' + name + ' has not been defined'); }  
  };  
}())  


// -------------  demo ----------------------------  
SETCONST( 'VAT', 0.175 );  
alert( CONST('VAT') );


//try to alter the value of VAT  
try{  
  SETCONST( 'VAT', 0.22 );  
} catch ( exc )  {  
   alert (exc.message);  
}  
//check old value of VAT remains  
alert( CONST('VAT') );  


// try to get at constants object directly  
constants['DODO'] = "dead bird";  // error  

Forget IE and use the const keyword.


Yet there is no exact cross browser predefined way to do it , you can achieve it by controlling the scope of variables as showed on other answers.

But i will suggest to use name space to distinguish from other variables. this will reduce the chance of collision to minimum from other variables.

Proper namespacing like

var iw_constant={
     name:'sudhanshu',
     age:'23'
     //all varibale come like this
}

so while using it will be iw_constant.name or iw_constant.age

You can also block adding any new key or changing any key inside iw_constant using Object.freeze method. However its not supported on legacy browser.

ex:

Object.freeze(iw_constant);

For older browser you can use polyfill for freeze method.


If you are ok with calling function following is best cross browser way to define constant. Scoping your object within a self executing function and returning a get function for your constants ex:

var iw_constant= (function(){
       var allConstant={
             name:'sudhanshu',
             age:'23'
             //all varibale come like this

       };

       return function(key){
          allConstant[key];
       }
    };

//to get the value use iw_constant('name') or iw_constant('age')


** In both example you have to be very careful on name spacing so that your object or function shouldn't be replaced through other library.(If object or function itself wil be replaced your whole constant will go)


For a while, I specified "constants" (which still weren't actually constants) in object literals passed through to with() statements. I thought it was so clever. Here's an example:

with ({
    MY_CONST : 'some really important value'
}) {
    alert(MY_CONST);
}

In the past, I also have created a CONST namespace where I would put all of my constants. Again, with the overhead. Sheesh.

Now, I just do var MY_CONST = 'whatever'; to KISS.


My opinion (works only with objects).

var constants = (function(){
  var a = 9;

  //GLOBAL CONSTANT (through "return")
  window.__defineGetter__("GCONST", function(){
    return a;
  });

  //LOCAL CONSTANT
  return {
    get CONST(){
      return a;
    }
  }
})();

constants.CONST = 8; //9
alert(constants.CONST); //9

Try! But understand - this is object, but not simple variable.

Try also just:

const a = 9;

I too have had a problem with this. And after quite a while searching for the answer and looking at all the responses by everybody, I think I've come up with a viable solution to this.

It seems that most of the answers that I've come across is using functions to hold the constants. As many of the users of the MANY forums post about, the functions can be easily over written by users on the client side. I was intrigued by Keith Evetts' answer that the constants object can not be accessed by the outside, but only from the functions on the inside.

So I came up with this solution:

Put everything inside an anonymous function so that way, the variables, objects, etc. cannot be changed by the client side. Also hide the 'real' functions by having other functions call the 'real' functions from the inside. I also thought of using functions to check if a function has been changed by a user on the client side. If the functions have been changed, change them back using variables that are 'protected' on the inside and cannot be changed.

/*Tested in: IE 9.0.8; Firefox 14.0.1; Chrome 20.0.1180.60 m; Not Tested in Safari*/

(function(){
  /*The two functions _define and _access are from Keith Evetts 2009 License: LGPL (SETCONST and CONST).
    They're the same just as he did them, the only things I changed are the variable names and the text
    of the error messages.
  */

  //object literal to hold the constants
  var j = {};

  /*Global function _define(String h, mixed m). I named it define to mimic the way PHP 'defines' constants.
    The argument 'h' is the name of the const and has to be a string, 'm' is the value of the const and has
    to exist. If there is already a property with the same name in the object holder, then we throw an error.
    If not, we add the property and set the value to it. This is a 'hidden' function and the user doesn't
    see any of your coding call this function. You call the _makeDef() in your code and that function calls
    this function.    -    You can change the error messages to whatever you want them to say.
  */
  self._define = function(h,m) {
      if (typeof h !== 'string') { throw new Error('I don\'t know what to do.'); }
      if (!m) { throw new Error('I don\'t know what to do.'); }
      else if ((h in j) ) { throw new Error('We have a problem!'); }
      else {
          j[h] = m;
          return true;
    }
  };

  /*Global function _makeDef(String t, mixed y). I named it makeDef because we 'make the define' with this
    function. The argument 't' is the name of the const and doesn't need to be all caps because I set it
    to upper case within the function, 'y' is the value of the value of the const and has to exist. I
    make different variables to make it harder for a user to figure out whats going on. We then call the
    _define function with the two new variables. You call this function in your code to set the constant.
    You can change the error message to whatever you want it to say.
  */
  self._makeDef = function(t, y) {
      if(!y) { throw new Error('I don\'t know what to do.'); return false; }
      q = t.toUpperCase();
      w = y;
      _define(q, w);
  };

  /*Global function _getDef(String s). I named it getDef because we 'get the define' with this function. The
    argument 's' is the name of the const and doesn't need to be all capse because I set it to upper case
    within the function. I make a different variable to make it harder for a user to figure out whats going
    on. The function returns the _access function call. I pass the new variable and the original string
    along to the _access function. I do this because if a user is trying to get the value of something, if
    there is an error the argument doesn't get displayed with upper case in the error message. You call this
    function in your code to get the constant.
  */
  self._getDef = function(s) {
      z = s.toUpperCase();
      return _access(z, s);
  };

  /*Global function _access(String g, String f). I named it access because we 'access' the constant through
    this function. The argument 'g' is the name of the const and its all upper case, 'f' is also the name
    of the const, but its the original string that was passed to the _getDef() function. If there is an
    error, the original string, 'f', is displayed. This makes it harder for a user to figure out how the
    constants are being stored. If there is a property with the same name in the object holder, we return
    the constant value. If not, we check if the 'f' variable exists, if not, set it to the value of 'g' and
    throw an error. This is a 'hidden' function and the user doesn't see any of your coding call this
    function. You call the _getDef() function in your code and that function calls this function.
    You can change the error messages to whatever you want them to say.
  */
  self._access = function(g, f) {
      if (typeof g !== 'string') { throw new Error('I don\'t know what to do.'); }
      if ( g in j ) { return j[g]; }
      else { if(!f) { f = g; } throw new Error('I don\'t know what to do. I have no idea what \''+f+'\' is.'); }
  };

  /*The four variables below are private and cannot be accessed from the outside script except for the
    functions inside this anonymous function. These variables are strings of the four above functions and
    will be used by the all-dreaded eval() function to set them back to their original if any of them should
    be changed by a user trying to hack your code.
  */
  var _define_func_string = "function(h,m) {"+"      if (typeof h !== 'string') { throw new Error('I don\\'t know what to do.'); }"+"      if (!m) { throw new Error('I don\\'t know what to do.'); }"+"      else if ((h in j) ) { throw new Error('We have a problem!'); }"+"      else {"+"          j[h] = m;"+"          return true;"+"    }"+"  }";
  var _makeDef_func_string = "function(t, y) {"+"      if(!y) { throw new Error('I don\\'t know what to do.'); return false; }"+"      q = t.toUpperCase();"+"      w = y;"+"      _define(q, w);"+"  }";
  var _getDef_func_string = "function(s) {"+"      z = s.toUpperCase();"+"      return _access(z, s);"+"  }";
  var _access_func_string = "function(g, f) {"+"      if (typeof g !== 'string') { throw new Error('I don\\'t know what to do.'); }"+"      if ( g in j ) { return j[g]; }"+"      else { if(!f) { f = g; } throw new Error('I don\\'t know what to do. I have no idea what \\''+f+'\\' is.'); }"+"  }";

  /*Global function _doFunctionCheck(String u). I named it doFunctionCheck because we're 'checking the functions'
    The argument 'u' is the name of any of the four above function names you want to check. This function will
    check if a specific line of code is inside a given function. If it is, then we do nothing, if not, then
    we use the eval() function to set the function back to its original coding using the function string
    variables above. This function will also throw an error depending upon the doError variable being set to true
    This is a 'hidden' function and the user doesn't see any of your coding call this function. You call the
    doCodeCheck() function and that function calls this function.    -    You can change the error messages to
    whatever you want them to say.
  */
  self._doFunctionCheck = function(u) {
      var errMsg = 'We have a BIG problem! You\'ve changed my code.';
      var doError = true;
      d = u;
      switch(d.toLowerCase())
      {
           case "_getdef":
               if(_getDef.toString().indexOf("z = s.toUpperCase();") != -1) { /*do nothing*/ }
               else { eval("_getDef = "+_getDef_func_string); if(doError === true) { throw new Error(errMsg); } }
               break;
           case "_makedef":
               if(_makeDef.toString().indexOf("q = t.toUpperCase();") != -1) { /*do nothing*/ }
               else { eval("_makeDef = "+_makeDef_func_string); if(doError === true) { throw new Error(errMsg); } }
               break;
           case "_define":
               if(_define.toString().indexOf("else if((h in j) ) {") != -1) { /*do nothing*/ }
               else { eval("_define = "+_define_func_string); if(doError === true) { throw new Error(errMsg); } }
               break;
           case "_access":
               if(_access.toString().indexOf("else { if(!f) { f = g; }") != -1) { /*do nothing*/ }
               else { eval("_access = "+_access_func_string); if(doError === true) { throw new Error(errMsg); } }
               break;
           default:
                if(doError === true) { throw new Error('I don\'t know what to do.'); }
      }
  };

  /*Global function _doCodeCheck(String v). I named it doCodeCheck because we're 'doing a code check'. The argument
    'v' is the name of one of the first four functions in this script that you want to check. I make a different
    variable to make it harder for a user to figure out whats going on. You call this function in your code to check
    if any of the functions has been changed by the user.
  */
  self._doCodeCheck = function(v) {
      l = v;
      _doFunctionCheck(l);
  };
}())

It also seems that security is really a problem and there is not way to 'hide' you programming from the client side. A good idea for me is to compress your code so that it is really hard for anyone, including you, the programmer, to read and understand it. There is a site you can go to: http://javascriptcompressor.com/. (This is not my site, don't worry I'm not advertising.) This is a site that will let you compress and obfuscate Javascript code for free.

  1. Copy all the code in the above script and paste it into the top textarea on the javascriptcompressor.com page.
  2. Check the Base62 encode checkbox, check the Shrink Variables checkbox.
  3. Press the Compress button.
  4. Paste and save it all in a .js file and add it to your page in the head of your page.

Clearly this shows the need for a standardized cross-browser const keyword.

But for now:

var myconst = value;

or

Object['myconst'] = value;

Both seem sufficient and anything else is like shooting a fly with a bazooka.


I use const instead of var in my Greasemonkey scripts, but it is because they will run only on Firefox...
Name convention can be indeed the way to go, too (I do both!).


In JavaScript my practice has been to avoid constants as much as I can and use strings instead. Problems with constants appear when you want to expose your constants to the outside world:

For example one could implement the following Date API:

date.add(5, MyModule.Date.DAY).add(12, MyModule.Date.HOUR)

But it's much shorter and more natural to simply write:

date.add(5, "days").add(12, "hours")

This way "days" and "hours" really act like constants, because you can't change from the outside how many seconds "hours" represents. But it's easy to overwrite MyModule.Date.HOUR.

This kind of approach will also aid in debugging. If Firebug tells you action === 18 it's pretty hard to figure out what it means, but when you see action === "save" then it's immediately clear.


Okay, this is ugly, but it gives me a constant in Firefox and Chromium, an inconstant constant (WTF?) in Safari and Opera, and a variable in IE.

Of course eval() is evil, but without it, IE throws an error, preventing scripts from running.

Safari and Opera support the const keyword, but you can change the const's value.

In this example, server-side code is writing JavaScript to the page, replacing {0} with a value.

try{
    // i can haz const?
    eval("const FOO='{0}';");
    // for reals?
    var original=FOO;
    try{
        FOO='?NO!';
    }catch(err1){
        // no err from Firefox/Chrome - fails silently
        alert('err1 '+err1);
    }
    alert('const '+FOO);
    if(FOO=='?NO!'){
        // changed in Sf/Op - set back to original value
        FOO=original;
    }
}catch(err2){
    // IE fail
    alert('err2 '+err2);
    // set var (no var keyword - Chrome/Firefox complain about redefining const)
    FOO='{0}';
    alert('var '+FOO);
}
alert('FOO '+FOO);

What is this good for? Not much, since it's not cross-browser. At best, maybe a little peace of mind that at least some browsers won't let bookmarklets or third-party script modify the value.

Tested with Firefox 2, 3, 3.6, 4, Iron 8, Chrome 10, 12, Opera 11, Safari 5, IE 6, 9.


If it is worth mentioning, you can define constants in angular using $provide.constant()

angularApp.constant('YOUR_CONSTANT', 'value');

An improved version of Burke's answer that lets you do CONFIG.MY_CONST instead of CONFIG.get('MY_CONST').

It requires IE9+ or a real web browser.

var CONFIG = (function() {
    var constants = {
        'MY_CONST': 1,
        'ANOTHER_CONST': 2
    };

    var result = {};
    for (var n in constants)
        if (constants.hasOwnProperty(n))
            Object.defineProperty(result, n, { value: constants[n] });

    return result;
}());

* The properties are read-only, only if the initial values are immutable.


JavaScript ES6 (re-)introduced the const keyword which is supported in all major browsers.

Variables declared via const cannot be re-declared or re-assigned.

Apart from that, const behaves similar to let.

It behaves as expected for primitive datatypes (Boolean, Null, Undefined, Number, String, Symbol):

const x = 1;
x = 2;
console.log(x); // 1 ...as expected, re-assigning fails

Attention: Be aware of the pitfalls regarding objects:

const o = {x: 1};
o = {x: 2};
console.log(o); // {x: 1} ...as expected, re-assigning fails

o.x = 2;
console.log(o); // {x: 2} !!! const does not make objects immutable!

const a = [];
a = [1];
console.log(a); // 1 ...as expected, re-assigning fails

a.push(1);
console.log(a); // [1] !!! const does not make objects immutable

If you really need an immutable and absolutely constant object: Just use const ALL_CAPS to make your intention clear. It is a good convention to follow for all const declarations anyway, so just rely on it.


Another alternative is something like:

var constants = {
      MY_CONSTANT : "myconstant",
      SOMETHING_ELSE : 123
    }
  , constantMap = new function ConstantMap() {};

for(var c in constants) {
  !function(cKey) {
    Object.defineProperty(constantMap, cKey, {
      enumerable : true,
      get : function(name) { return constants[cKey]; }
    })
  }(c);
}

Then simply: var foo = constantMap.MY_CONSTANT

If you were to constantMap.MY_CONSTANT = "bar" it would have no effect as we're trying to use an assignment operator with a getter, hence constantMap.MY_CONSTANT === "myconstant" would remain true.


in Javascript already exists constants. You define a constant like this:

const name1 = value;

This cannot change through reassignment.


The keyword 'const' was proposed earlier and now it has been officially included in ES6. By using the const keyword, you can pass a value/string that will act as an immutable string.


Introducing constants into JavaScript is at best a hack.

A nice way of making persistent and globally accessible values in JavaScript would be declaring an object literal with some "read-only" properties like this:

            my={get constant1(){return "constant 1"},
                get constant2(){return "constant 2"},
                get constant3(){return "constant 3"},
                get constantN(){return "constant N"}
                }

you'll have all your constants grouped in one single "my" accessory object where you can look for your stored values or anything else you may have decided to put there for that matter. Now let's test if it works:

           my.constant1; >> "constant 1" 
           my.constant1 = "new constant 1";
           my.constant1; >> "constant 1" 

As we can see, the "my.constant1" property has preserved its original value. You've made yourself some nice 'green' temporary constants...

But of course this will only guard you from accidentally modifying, altering, nullifying, or emptying your property constant value with a direct access as in the given example.

Otherwise I still think that constants are for dummies. And I still think that exchanging your great freedom for a small corner of deceptive security is the worst trade possible.


Rhino.js implements const in addition to what was mentioned above.