Chad Chad - 9 months ago 27
PHP Question

Understanding Incrementing

For example this:

var a = 123;
var b = a++;


I understand that b is taking the value of a and then a is being incremented. However, I don't understand why this is so. The principal reason for why the creators of JavaScript would want this. What is the advantage to this other than confusing newbies?


That's why it's called the "post-incrementing operator". Essentially, everything is an expression which results in a value. a + 1 is an expression which results in the value 124. If you assign this to b with b = a + 1, b has the value of 124. If you do not assign the result to anything, a + 1 will still result in the value 124, it will just be thrown away immediately since you're not "catching" it anywhere.

BTW, even b = a + 1 is an expression which returns 124. The resulting value of an assignment expression is the assigned value. That's why c = b = a + 1 works as you'd expect.

Anyway, the special thing about an expression with ++ and -- is that in addition to returning a value, the ++ operator modifies the variable directly. So what happens when you do b = a++ is, the expression a++ returns the value 123 and increments a. The post incrementor first returns the value, then increments, while the pre incrementor ++a first increments, then returns the value. If you just wrote a++ by itself without assignment, you won't notice the difference. That's how a++ is usually used, as short-hand for a = a + 1.

This is pretty standard.