Odd Café

JavaScript and Scope VII - More Closures

June 10, 2019 • 2 min read

In the previous article on JavaScript and Scope VI - Closures you saw your first example of how lexical scope can result in closures. A closure meaning that inner functions have access to the variables of outer functions. Even when the outer function finishes running.

Another great way of seeing this is with a callback function, since callbacks are still fairly common, especially in older JavaScript.

function runsAnyCallback(callback) {
  var i = 10;  callback();}

function foo() {
  var i = 2;
  function bar() {
    i = i + 1;
    console.log ('value of i when bar is declared inside foo: ', i);

  return bar;

// Get the bar function.
var barFunc  = foo();
// foo has already completed running.
runsAnyCallback(barFunc); // logs 3!

Think of closures as just another tool to get the results you want. One of the most popular JavaScript questions about scope on StackOverflow is about unexpected values in a for loop.

var funcs = [];

for (var i = 0; i < 4; i++) {  // Declare and save a function.
  funcs[i] = function() {    console.log('My value: ', i);

// Global variable `i` is already 3.

// Run each function.
funcs[1](); // logs 3
funcs[2](); // logs 3
funcs[3](); // logs 3

The above code should make sense to you already because you know from JavaScript and Scope IV - Blocks that blocks do not create new scope when using var. So the i variable exists at the global scope. The final value of the i variable will be 3, before any of the functions run. Each of the functions will just log the current value of the global i variable when they run.

One way to fix this is using a closure.

var funcs = [];

// Outer function creates new scope.
function makeLog (i) {
  var j = i;  // Declare inner function using new scope.
  return function () {    console.log('My value: ', j);

for (var i = 0; i < 4; i++) {
  // Run makeLog, but the inner function doesn't run yet.
  funcs[i] = makeLog(i);

// Run each inner function.
funcs[1](); // logs 1
funcs[2](); // logs 2
funcs[3](); // logs 3

In the code above, we take advantage of the fact that functions create a new scope. Every time the outer makeLog function runs, it creates a new and separate j variable in its scope. It then declares and returns an inner function that logs that local j variable. Even when the makeLog function finishes running, that returned function will still reference the unique j variable created each time makeLog runs. Because makeLog ran three times, there are 3 separate j variables.

Note that for learning purposes the above code is intentionally more verbose than needed, and will be improved upon in JavaScript and Scope VIII - Improved Closures.