By Tilendor

2009-05-21 20:07:17 8 Comments

I would like a JavaScript function to have optional arguments which I set a default on, which get used if the value isn't defined (and ignored if the value is passed). In Ruby you can do it like this:

def read_file(file, delete_after = false)
  # code

Does this work in JavaScript?

function read_file(file, delete_after = false) {
  // Code


@Kamil Kiełczewski 2020-06-30 14:30:04

Yes - proof:

function read_file(file, delete_after = false) {
  // Code


@zixuan 2019-07-16 16:26:40

The answer is yes. In fact, there are many languages who support default parameters. Python is one of them:

def(a, enter="Hello"):

Even though this is Python 3 code due to the parentheses, default parameters in functions also work in JS.

For example, and in your case:

function read_file(file, deleteAfter=false){


But sometimes you don't really need default parameters.

You can just define the variable right after the start of the function, like this:

function read_file(file){
  var deleteAfter = false;


In both of my examples, it returns the same thing. But sometimes they actually could be useful, like in very advanced projects.

So, in conclusion, default parameter values can be used in JS. But it is almost the same thing as defining a variable right after the start of the function. However, sometimes they are still very useful. As you have may noticed, default parameter values take 1 less line of code than the standard way which is defining the parameter right after the start of the function.

EDIT: And this is super important! This will not work in IE. See documentation. So with IE you have to use the "define variable at top of function" method. Default parameters won't work in IE.

@Shivang Gupta 2019-12-19 08:39:04

Just to showcase my skills too (lol), above function can written even without having named arguments as below:

ES5 and above

function foo() {
    a = typeof arguments[0] !== 'undefined' ? a : 42;
    b = typeof arguments[1] !== 'undefined' ? b : 'default_b';

ES6 and above

function foo( {
    a = typeof rest[0] !== 'undefined' ? a : 42;
    b = typeof rest[1] !== 'undefined' ? b : 'default_b';

@jave.web 2019-10-17 20:22:46

Sounds of Future

In future, you will be able to "spread" one object to another (currently as of 2019 NOT supported by Edge!) - demonstration how to use that for nice default options regardless of order:

function test(options) {
    var options = {
       // defaults
       url: 'defaultURL',
       some: 'somethingDefault',
       // override with input options
    var body = document.getElementsByTagName('body')[0];
    body.innerHTML += '<br>' + options.url + ' : ' + options.some;
test({url:'overrideURL', some:'andSomething'});
test({url:'overrideURL', some:'andSomething', extra:'noProblem'});

MDN reference:

...meanwhile what Edge DOES support is Object.assign() (IE does not, but I really hope we can leave IE behind :) )

Similarly you could do

    function test(options) {
        var options = Object.assign({
           // defaults
           url: 'defaultURL',
           some: 'somethingDefault',
        }, options); // override with input options
        var body = document.getElementsByTagName('body')[0];
        body.innerHTML += '<br>' + options.url + ' : ' + options.some;
    test({url:'overrideURL', some:'andSomething'});
    test({url:'overrideURL', some:'andSomething', extra:'noProblem'});

EDIT: Due to comments regarding const options - the problem with using constant options in the rest of the function is actually not that you can't do that, is just that you can't use the constant variable in its own declaration - you would have to adjust the input naming to something like

function test(input_options){
   const options = {
     // defaults
     someKey:    'someDefaultValue',
     anotherKey: 'anotherDefaultValue',

     // merge-in input options

   // from now on use options with no problem

@frank-dspeed 2019-12-13 13:29:55

The problem is that you normal never want to do that as this will re assign options which is already defined but you can use it with a other var that would be legit.

@frank-dspeed 2019-12-13 14:19:16

function test(options) { /* Options is defined it will throw a error if you use const options = {} now*/ }

@frank-dspeed 2019-12-14 07:03:41

no not global when you create a function and you pass in as argument name options then inside the function options is defined inside function (opt) {} opt is defined you can't use const opt inside that function then this is bad because you do variable reassignment if you do that often and it looks like your general pattern this is a issue

@jave.web 2019-12-16 12:45:19

@google-frank-dspeed ah, do you mean that you can't do function(opt){ const opt = /*some merging*/; } ? That for sure won't work because you would use const variable before it was declared - you would have to adjust - function test(input_opt){ const opt = { someKey: 'someDefaultValue', ...input_opt} }

@jave.web 2019-12-16 13:00:14

@google-frank-dspeed anyway more new people will probably wonder about this, so I've added the how-to code to edit :) so thanks for pointing that out for others :)

@Aman Pandey 2019-06-13 09:26:15

Just a different approach to set default params is to use object map of arguments, instead of arguments directly. For example,

const defaultConfig = {
 category: 'Animals',
 legs: 4

function checkOrganism(props) {
 const category = props.category || defaultConfig.category;
 const legs = props.legs || defaultConfig.legs;

This way, it's easy to extend the arguments and not worry about argument length mismatch.

@Tom Ritter 2009-05-21 20:10:52

From ES6/ES2015, default parameters are in the language specification.

function read_file(file, delete_after = false) {
  // Code

just works.

Reference: Default Parameters - MDN

Default function parameters allow formal parameters to be initialized with default values if no value or undefined is passed.

You can also simulate default named parameters via destructuring:

// the `= {}` below lets you call the function without any parameters
function myFor({ start = 5, end = 1, step = -1 } = {}) { // (A)
    // Use the variables `start`, `end` and `step` here

Pre ES2015,

There are a lot of ways, but this is my preferred method — it lets you pass in anything you want, including false or null. (typeof null == "object")

function foo(a, b) {
  a = typeof a !== 'undefined' ? a : 42;
  b = typeof b !== 'undefined' ? b : 'default_b';

@Camilo Martin 2012-09-02 05:56:31

You can also encapsulate it as such: function defaultFor(arg, val) { return typeof arg !== 'undefined' ? arg : val; } and then you can call it as a = defaultFor(a, 42);

@Triang3l 2012-09-28 17:10:32

This is too slow, use a = ((a != null) ? a : 42);.

@Sampo Sarrala - 2012-11-02 08:29:59

@SiPlus then it is not anymore default value and there's no point other than quickly changing a lot of values passed to functions (like using defined constants in place of null). Basically your code translates null to 42. If a is undefined in your example then it will stay undefined and it is not getting any default value.

@Triang3l 2012-11-02 13:11:38

@Sampo undefined==null (but not ===null). But if you intentionally pass null to the function, my code will not work.

@Sampo Sarrala - 2012-11-03 01:29:26

@SiPlus and you got extra reference errors for free of charge while trying to use undefined objects :p Even while it may work with some browsers and might be faster, null is still an object and undefined is reference to primitive type that is trying to tell that there is nothing here, not even null. See here, both cases in nutshell: JavaScript/Reference/Global_Objects/undefined.

@Dziamid 2013-05-17 11:06:12

if you check against the property of an object, then typeof is redundant. function foo(data) { var bar = !== undefined ? : 'default'; } This won't throw reference errors and is concise.

@Rick Eyre 2013-07-19 15:14:26

This didn't work for me. If you pass in no value you can't use typeof on the parameter. You have to instead use var === undefined

@Daddy32 2014-12-09 15:31:57

I know it's really minor, but I don't like how you are assigning a = a and b = b when those parameters are not undefined. Also, that ternary operator with a bit complicated condition may be hard to read for future maintainers. I would prefer following syntax: if (typeof a == 'undefined') a = 42 - no unnecessary assignment plus a little bit easier to read.

@Abe Voelker 2015-05-21 22:04:57

Is there any reason to use typeof? It would seem simpler to just do a === undefined. Plus that way you'd get a reference error if you misspelled undefined vs. putting it in a string.

@Feng Huo 2015-06-26 18:21:18

And we don't have to worry about a ending up as a global variable if it wasn't specified in the function call?

@Sebi 2015-08-27 00:51:31

@AbeVoelker There were some problems with undefined not being a keyword in older javascript engines - so you could overwrite it. You can always generate an undefined by using void - for example: a = a !== void 0 ? a : "Default"; - it is ugly, and there is something fundamentally wrong with the code overwriting undefined anyway.

@Sebi 2015-08-27 00:52:55

@Sebi Also that's how it roughly looks when you compile/preprocess TypeScript function with parameters having a default value.

@cregox 2015-11-24 11:42:40

why not simply using the less cryptic if (typeof a === 'undefined') a = 42;?

@Diptox 2016-01-08 15:36:26

you can use a = a || 42; it's more easy

@Wes 2016-08-12 18:17:15

FYI: MS Edge and IE11 throw an error when assigning a default value like so: function badArg(imOK, imNOT='') {} - it will balk at the ='' - didn't test null, just removed it because it wasn't actually necessary.

@bevanb 2016-08-23 18:10:59

Note that setting defaults in the parameter declaration doesn't currently work in mobile Safari or Chrome.

@Sarath S Nair 2017-01-30 04:18:55

You can simply write function foo(a, b) { a = a || 42; b = b || 'default_b'; ... }

@Guillaume Vincent 2017-06-20 09:53:21

Is there a reason why you don't use a positive if? a = typeof a === 'undefined' ? 42 : a; I mean === instead of !== ?

@fungusanthrax 2017-07-06 13:57:33

Do you have to pass an input for the 2nd parameter or can it be left out?

@Doug Coburn 2017-10-15 22:49:49

I suggest updating your answer to warn about the gotchas with using default parameter values. See my post below:…

@KayakinKoder 2017-10-27 01:51:33

According to this, default parameters are now supported by most browsers (including mobile), IE being the exception:… and

@Tanya Gupta 2018-02-17 19:56:32

You can also use default value assignment with the destructuring assignment notation

@Mentalist 2019-04-17 07:00:14

I've found this useful for debugging when a function can be triggered by multiple events, to have the option of passing an argument stating where the function originated. Example: function myFunction(caller = "unspecified") {if (caller !== "unspecified") {console.log("myFunction called by: " + caller);} so that if the function is myFunction("window scroll"); it prints to the console myFunction called by: window scroll ...can be nice if you want verbose feedback in the console.

@Mentalist 2019-04-18 00:28:46

Just noticed the code from my previous post is missing a closing brace. It should be ...caller);}} at the end of the function declaration.

@Candleshark 2019-11-06 01:37:46

+1 This particular Q&A is a perfect example of the fact that the majority of developers will come to SO before anywhere else. :)

@Doug Coburn 2017-10-15 22:36:22

I would highly recommend extreme caution when using default parameter values in javascript. It often creates bugs when used in conjunction with higher order functions like forEach, map, and reduce. For example, consider this line of code:

['1', '2', '3'].map(parseInt); // [1, NaN, NaN]

parseInt has an optional second parameter function parseInt(s, [radix=10]) but map calls parseInt with three arguments: (element, index, and array).

I suggest you separate your required parameters form your optional/default valued arguments. If your function takes 1,2, or 3 required parameters for which no default value makes sense, make them positional parameters to the function, any optional parameters should follow as named attributes of a single object. If your function takes 4 or more, perhaps it makes more sense to supply all arguments via attributes of a single object parameter.

In your case I would suggest you write your deleteFile function like this: (edited per instead's comments)...

// unsafe
function read_file(fileName, deleteAfter=false) {
    if (deleteAfter) {
        console.log(`Reading and then deleting ${fileName}`);
    } else {
        console.log(`Just reading ${fileName}`);

// better
function readFile(fileName, options) {
  const deleteAfter = !!(options && options.deleteAfter === true);
  read_file(fileName, deleteAfter);

['log1.txt', 'log2.txt', 'log3.txt'].map(read_file);

['log1.txt', 'log2.txt', 'log3.txt'].map(readFile);

Running the above snippet illustrates the dangers lurking behind default argument values for unused parameters.

@instead 2019-01-26 17:36:50

This "better solution" is quite unreadable. I would rather recommend to check variable type like typeof deleteAfter === 'bool' and throw Exception otherwise. Plus in case of using methods like map/foreach etc. just use them with caution and wrap called functions with anonymous function. ['1', '2', '3'].map((value) => {read_file(value);})

@Doug Coburn 2019-01-26 18:18:13

That's a good point. I was trying to avoid using libraries in my code snippet, but this idiom is quite messy in pure javascript. Personally, I would use lodash's get method to retrieve deleteAfter. Throwing an exception if typeof 'deleteAfter' !== 'bool' may also be a good prudent measure. I don't like designing methods that require the caller to "use caution". Caution is the responsibility of the function, not the caller. The end behavior should follow the principle of least surprise.

@instead 2019-01-26 23:52:52

I agree, that method shouldn't be wrote the way, that calling it, can broke its behavior. But keep in mind that function is like model, and caller is like controller. Model should take care of data processing. Function (method) should expect that data, can be passed wrong way and handle it. That's why checking type of parameter plus throwing Exception, is the best way. Even though it's more complex. But still it can save You from scratching Your head and keep asking... WHY IT IS NOT WORKING?! and then... WHY IT IS WORKING?!

@Alireza 2019-01-18 07:29:01

Yes, using default parameters is fully supported in ES6:

function read_file(file, delete_after = false) {
  // Code


const read_file = (file, delete_after = false) => {
    // Code

but prior in ES5 you could easily do this:

function read_file(file, delete_after) {
  var df = delete_after || false;
  // Code

Which means if the value is there, use the value, otherwise, use the second value after || operation which does the same thing...

Note: also there is a big difference between those if you pass a value to ES6 one even the value be falsy, that will be replaced with new value, something like null or ""... but ES5 one only will be replaced if only the passed value is truthy, that's because the way || working...

@Akrion 2018-10-10 07:04:59

If for some reason you are not on ES6 and are using lodash here is a concise way to default function parameters via _.defaultTo method:

var fn = function(a, b) {
  a = _.defaultTo(a, 'Hi')
  b = _.defaultTo(b, 'Mom!')

  console.log(a, b)

fn()                 // Hi Mom!
fn(undefined, null)  // Hi Mom!
fn(NaN, NaN)         // Hi Mom!
fn(1)                // 1 "Mom!"
fn(null, 2)          // Hi 2
fn(false, false)     // false false
fn(0, 2)             // 0 2
<script src=""></script>

Which will set the default if the current value is NaN, null, or undefined

@esewalson 2018-09-27 16:56:00

Yeah this is referred to as a default parameter

Default function parameters allow formal parameters to be initialized with default values if no value or undefined is passed.


function [name]([param1[ = defaultValue1 ][, ..., paramN[ = defaultValueN ]]]) {


Parameters of functions default to undefined However, in situations it might be useful to set a different default value. This is where default parameters can help.

In the past, the general strategy for setting defaults was to test parameter values in the body of the function and assign a value if they are undefined. If no value is provided in the call, its value would be undefined. You would have to set a conditional check to make sure the parameter is not undefined

With default parameters in ES2015, the check in the function body is no longer necessary. Now you can simply put a default value in the function head.

Example of the differences:

function multiply(a, b) {
  b = (typeof b !== 'undefined') ?  b : 1;
  return a * b;

multiply(5, 2); // 10
multiply(5, 1); // 5
multiply(5);    // 5

function multiply(a, b = 1) {
  return a * b;

multiply(5, 2); // 10
multiply(5, 1); // 5
multiply(5);    // 5

Different Syntax Examples:

Padding undefined vs other falsy values:

Even if the value is set explicitly when calling, the value of the num argument is the default one.

function test(num = 1) {
  console.log(typeof num);

test();          // 'number' (num is set to 1)
test(undefined); // 'number' (num is set to 1 too)

// test with other falsy values:
test('');        // 'string' (num is set to '')
test(null);      // 'object' (num is set to null)

Evaluated at call time:

The default argument gets evaluated at call time, so unlike some other languages, a new object is created each time the function is called.

function append(value, array = []) {
  return array;

append(1); //[1]
append(2); //[2], not [1, 2]

// This even applies to functions and variables
function callSomething(thing = something()) {
 return thing;

function something() {
  return 'sth';

callSomething();  //sth

Default parameters are available to later default parameters:

Params already encountered are available to later default parameters

function singularAutoPlural(singular, plural = singular + 's',
                        rallyingCry = plural + ' ATTACK!!!') {
  return [singular, plural, rallyingCry];

//["Gecko","Geckos", "Geckos ATTACK!!!"]

//["Fox","Foxes", "Foxes ATTACK!!!"]
singularAutoPlural('Fox', 'Foxes');

//["Deer", "Deer", "Deer ... change."]
singularAutoPlural('Deer', 'Deer', 'Deer peaceably and respectfully \ petition the government for positive change.')

Functions defined inside function body:

Introduced in Gecko 33 (Firefox 33 / Thunderbird 33 / SeaMonkey 2.30). Functions declared in the function body cannot be referred inside default parameters and throw a ReferenceError (currently a TypeError in SpiderMonkey, see bug 1022967). Default parameters are always executed first, function declarations inside the function body evaluate afterwards.

// Doesn't work! Throws ReferenceError.
function f(a = go()) {
  function go() { return ':P'; }

Parameters without defaults after default parameters:

Prior to Gecko 26 (Firefox 26 / Thunderbird 26 / SeaMonkey 2.23 / Firefox OS 1.2), the following code resulted in a SyntaxError. This has been fixed in bug 777060 and works as expected in later versions. Parameters are still set left-to-right, overwriting default parameters even if there are later parameters without defaults.

function f(x = 1, y) {
  return [x, y];

f(); // [1, undefined]
f(2); // [2, undefined]

Destructured paramet with default value assignment:

You can use default value assignment with the destructuring assignment notation

function f([x, y] = [1, 2], {z: z} = {z: 3}) {
  return x + y + z;

f(); // 6

@Muhammad Rizwan 2018-09-24 23:02:55

def read_file(file, delete_after = false)
  # code

Following code may work in this situation including ECMAScript 6 (ES6) as well as earlier versions.

function read_file(file, delete_after) {
    if(delete_after == undefined)
        delete_after = false;//default value

    console.log('delete_after =',delete_after);

as default value in languages works when the function's parameter value is skipped when calling, in JavaScript it is assigned to undefined. This approach doesn't look attractive programmatically but have backward compatibility.

@Angel Politis 2018-08-12 05:26:12

ES6: As already mentioned in most answers, in ES6, you can simply initialise a parameter along with a value.

ES5: Most of the given answers aren't good enough for me because there are occasions where I may have to pass falsey values such as 0, null and undefined to a function. To determine if a parameter is undefined because that's the value I passed instead of undefined due to not have been defined at all I do this:

function foo (param1, param2) {
   param1 = arguments.length >= 1 ? param1 : "default1";
   param2 = arguments.length >= 2 ? param2 : "default2";

@Willem van der Veen 2018-08-08 15:48:37

If you are using ES6+ you can set default parameters in the following manner:

function test (foo = 1, bar = 2) {
  console.log(foo, bar);

test(5); // foo gets overwritten, bar remains default parameter

If you need ES5 syntax you can do it in the following manner:

function test(foo, bar) {
  foo = foo || 2;
  bar = bar || 0;
  console.log(foo, bar);

test(5); // foo gets overwritten, bar remains default parameter

In the above syntax the OR operator is used. The OR operator always returns the first value if this can be converted to true if not it returns the righthandside value. When the function is called with no corresponding argument the parameter variable (bar in our example) is set to undefined by the JS engine. undefined Is then converted to false and thus does the OR operator return the value 0.

@BlackBeard 2018-07-05 11:54:50

Use this if you want to use latest ECMA6 syntax:

function myFunction(someValue = "This is DEFAULT!") {
  console.log("someValue --> ", someValue);

myFunction("Not A default value") // calling the function without default value
myFunction()  // calling the function with default value

It is called default function parameters. It allows formal parameters to be initialized with default values if no value or undefined is passed. NOTE: It wont work with Internet Explorer or older browsers.

For maximum possible compatibility use this:

function myFunction(someValue) {
  someValue = (someValue === undefined) ? "This is DEFAULT!" : someValue;
  console.log("someValue --> ", someValue);

myFunction("Not A default value") // calling the function without default value
myFunction()  // calling the function with default value

Both functions have exact same behavior as each of these example rely on the fact that the parameter variable will be undefined if no parameter value was passed when calling that function.

@MagicLAMP 2018-11-16 02:31:21

NOTE: as @BlackBeard says, function(param=value) WONT work with IE. Use the compatible version.

@dutta 2018-07-01 08:50:53

function throwIfNoValue() {
throw new Error('Missing argument');
function foo(argValue = throwIfNoValue()) {
return argValue ;

Here foo() is a function which has a parameter named argValue. If we don’t pass anything in the function call here, then the function throwIfNoValue() will be called and the returned result will be assigned to the only argument argValue. This is how a function call can be used as a default parameter. Which makes the code more simplified and readable.

This example has been taken from here

@Tính Ngô Quang 2018-06-08 08:55:11

function helloWorld(name, symbol = '!!!') {
    name = name || 'worlds';
    console.log('hello ' + name + symbol);

helloWorld(); // hello worlds!!!

helloWorld('john'); // hello john!!!

helloWorld('john', '(>.<)'); // hello john(>.<)

helloWorld('john', undefined); // hello john!!!

helloWorld(undefined, undefined); // hello worlds!!!

@Russ Cam 2009-05-21 20:09:48

function read_file(file, delete_after) {
    delete_after = delete_after || "my default here";
    //rest of code

This assigns to delete_after the value of delete_after if it is not a falsey value otherwise it assigns the string "my default here". For more detail, check out Doug Crockford's survey of the language and check out the section on Operators.

This approach does not work if you want to pass in a falsey value i.e. false, null, undefined, 0 or "". If you require falsey values to be passed in you would need to use the method in Tom Ritter's answer.

When dealing with a number of parameters to a function, it is often useful to allow the consumer to pass the parameter arguments in an object and then merge these values with an object that contains the default values for the function

function read_file(values) {
    values = merge({ 
        delete_after : "my default here"
    }, values || {});

    // rest of code

// simple implementation based on $.extend() from jQuery
function merge() {
    var obj, name, copy,
        target = arguments[0] || {},
        i = 1,
        length = arguments.length;

    for (; i < length; i++) {
        if ((obj = arguments[i]) != null) {
            for (name in obj) {
                copy = obj[name];

                if (target === copy) {
                else if (copy !== undefined) {
                    target[name] = copy;

    return target;

to use

// will use the default delete_after value
read_file({ file: "my file" }); 

// will override default delete_after value
read_file({ file: "my file", delete_after: "my value" }); 

@Tom Ritter 2009-05-21 20:11:19

I find this insufficient, because I may want to pass in false.

@Russ Cam 2009-05-21 20:16:14

I find it's adequate for most situations

@jinglesthula 2012-10-31 20:34:24

Because it doesn't work for falsey values, it may create a maintenance nightmare. A bit of code that has always been passed truthy values before and suddenly fails because a falsey one is passed in should probably be avoided where a more robust approach is available.

@xbonez 2012-11-28 05:56:25

How come, in this case, delete_after doesn't get the boolean result of the expression delete_after || "my default value"?

@Russ Cam 2012-11-28 19:36:51

@xbonez it assigns to delete_after the value of delete_after if it is not a falsey value otherwise it assigns the string my default here. For more detail, check out Doug Crockford's survey of the lanugage and check out the section on Operators -

@Muhammad Raihan Muhaimin 2014-02-19 21:04:35

Here is the catch : "This approach does not work if you want to pass in a falsey value i.e. false, null, undefined, 0 or "". If you require falsey values to be passed in you would need to use the method in Tom Ritter's answer." Thanks for clarifying.

@Paul 2015-08-04 13:39:03

It may not work if you need falsey values but my functions will frequently take an optional options object. This is perfect for that use case: opts = opts || {}.

@beerwin 2015-10-22 09:45:59

This may be better this way: delete_after = typeof(delete_after) != 'undefined' ? delete_after : "my default here";

@Mark Brackett 2016-03-27 01:33:05

or, you could just default to a falsey value - which is generally a good default anyway (eg., false for bools, empty string for strings, 0 for numbers, etc.) - in which case it doesn't really matter what was passed in.

@ArtOfWarfare 2016-06-05 00:58:17

Can a function even be false?

@L S 2017-06-14 20:25:09

@jinglesthula suggests this approach may create a maintenance nightmare. I'd say it more strongly: It most likely WILL be a nightmare. Russ Cam wrote that this approach won't work when values that can be cast to Boolean false are used. If you use this approach, how can you be sure that your code won't be called with a false value? You can't. Therefore, this approach isn't a good idea. The only current safe approach is to use typeof and compare the results with 'undefined'.

@jinglesthula 2017-06-14 20:48:27

Thankfully we now have ES6 (and Babel), so this will be more of a moot point going forward now that the language natively supports this in a sane fashion. For those not on ES6 yet, I think saying "if you require falsey values" or "if you want to pass in a falsey value" is a bit misleading, since you may be passed falsey values you didn't anticipate when writing the code, either because what you write will be used by other people, or by your future self (which is practically the same as "other people") that forgot a li'l caveat baked into old code.

@Vojtech Ruzicka 2018-01-09 10:24:57

Also, for a junior unaware of the concept this will look really cryptic and confusing. Checking for undefined in a IF and then assigning a value is not that longer and it is much more intent revealing. You can immediately see what is it for even as a complete newbie.

@Sumesh TG 2018-07-05 12:12:23

This works for variebles as well as objects. Thank you.

@Sergey 2018-10-24 10:23:33

The first example is not universal because that won't work for the case with a method like setValue(v) if you pass 0 where v should be 1 by default. It will work with strings and objects only.

@Sachin Kumar 2017-10-15 20:40:50

As per the syntax

function [name]([param1[ = defaultValue1 ][, ..., paramN[ = defaultValueN ]]]) {

you can define the default value of formal parameters. and also check undefined value by using typeof function.

@Thalaivar 2016-10-15 17:58:14

Default Parameter Values

With ES6, you can do perhaps one of the most common idioms in JavaScript relates to setting a default value for a function parameter. The way we’ve done this for years should look quite familiar:

function foo(x,y) {
 x = x || 11;
 y = y || 31;
 console.log( x + y );
foo(); // 42
foo( 5, 6 ); // 11
foo( 5 ); // 36
foo( null, 6 ); // 17

This pattern is most used, but is dangerous when we pass values like

foo(0, 42)
foo( 0, 42 ); // 53 <-- Oops, not 42

Why? Because the 0 is falsy, and so the x || 11 results in 11, not the directly passed in 0. To fix this gotcha, some people will instead write the check more verbosely like this:

function foo(x,y) {
 x = (x !== undefined) ? x : 11;
 y = (y !== undefined) ? y : 31;
 console.log( x + y );
foo( 0, 42 ); // 42
foo( undefined, 6 ); // 17

we can now examine a nice helpful syntax added as of ES6 to streamline the assignment of default values to missing arguments:

function foo(x = 11, y = 31) {
 console.log( x + y );

foo(); // 42
foo( 5, 6 ); // 11
foo( 0, 42 ); // 42
foo( 5 ); // 36
foo( 5, undefined ); // 36 <-- `undefined` is missing
foo( 5, null ); // 5 <-- null coerces to `0`
foo( undefined, 6 ); // 17 <-- `undefined` is missing
foo( null, 6 ); // 6 <-- null coerces to `0`

x = 11 in a function declaration is more like x !== undefined ? x : 11 than the much more common idiom x || 11

Default Value Expressions

Function default values can be more than just simple values like 31; they can be any valid expression, even a function call:

function bar(val) {
 console.log( "bar called!" );
 return y + val;
function foo(x = y + 3, z = bar( x )) {
 console.log( x, z );
var y = 5;
foo(); // "bar called"
 // 8 13
foo( 10 ); // "bar called"
 // 10 15
y = 6;
foo( undefined, 10 ); // 9 10

As you can see, the default value expressions are lazily evaluated, meaning they’re only run if and when they’re needed — that is, when a parameter’s argument is omitted or is undefined.

A default value expression can even be an inline function expression call — commonly referred to as an Immediately Invoked Function Expression (IIFE):

function foo( x =
 (function(v){ return v + 11; })( 31 )
) {
 console.log( x );
foo(); // 42

@Steven Johnston 2016-08-03 14:49:14

To anyone interested in having there code work in Microsoft Edge, do not use defaults in function parameters.

function read_file(file, delete_after = false) {

In that example Edge will throw an error "Expecting ')'"

To get around this use

function read_file(file, delete_after) {
  if(delete_after == undefined)
    delete_after = false;

As of Aug 08 2016 this is still an issue

@Muhammad Awais 2016-07-19 11:59:31

Yes, This will work in Javascript. You can also do that:

function func(a=10,b=20)
    alert (a+' and '+b);

func(); // Result: 10 and 20

func(12); // Result: 12 and 20

func(22,25); // Result: 22 and 25

@Gert van den Berg 2017-05-11 08:34:59

It is not currently portable... IE...… (And it is a duplicate answer...)

@vivek 2016-05-19 06:40:08

being a long time C++ developer (Rookie to web development :)), when I first came across this situation, I did the parameter assignment in the function definition, like it is mentioned in the question, as follows.

function myfunc(a,b=10)

But beware that it doesn't work consistently across browsers. For me it worked on chrome on my desktop, but did not work on chrome on android. Safer option, as many have mentioned above is -

    function myfunc(a,b)
    if (typeof(b)==='undefined') b = 10;

Intention for this answer is not to repeat the same solutions, what others have already mentioned, but to inform that parameter assignment in the function definition may work on some browsers, but don't rely on it.

@DiMono 2016-07-19 02:52:54

Assignment within the function definition also doesn't work in IE 11, which is the most current version of IE for Windows 8.1.

@gcampbell 2016-09-18 09:00:01

In case anyone's wondering, function myfunc(a,b=10) is ES6 syntax, there are links to compatibility tables in other answers.

@Takács Zsolt 2015-11-16 11:29:34

that solution is work for me in js:

function read_file(file, delete_after) {
    delete_after = delete_after || false;
    // Code

@Dmitri Pavlutin 2015-12-20 09:33:37

What happens if delete_after is 0 or null? It will not work correct for these cases.

@Rutrus 2017-02-01 10:13:12

@StephanBijzitter it only would be true in some cases. But if you only want the default values to unset values this didn't work, because 0 or null !=== false.

@Stephan Bijzitter 2017-02-01 10:21:07

@Rutrus: I don't understand anything you just said.

@aashah7 2017-04-28 03:50:54

What about delete_after = delete_after === undefined ? false : delete_after?

@Martin Wantke 2015-11-16 07:34:34

Just use an explicit comparison with undefined.

function read_file(file, delete_after)
    if(delete_after === undefined) { delete_after = false; }

@zillaofthegods 2015-10-06 16:16:21

As an update...with ECMAScript 6 you can FINALLY set default values in function parameter declarations like so:

function f (x, y = 7, z = 42) {
  return x + y + z

f(1) === 50

As referenced by -

@user 2015-11-06 00:48:29

This answer is not useful because it is a duplicate

@Felix Kling 2015-05-29 15:25:27

In ECMAScript 6 you will actually be able to write exactly what you have:

function read_file(file, delete_after = false) {
  // Code

This will set delete_after to false if it s not present or undefined. You can use ES6 features like this one today with transpilers such as Babel.

See the MDN article for more information.

@Zac 2015-06-01 20:15:17

ECMAScript 6 I suppose... (I would have corrected by myself but I can't make edits < 6 chars)

@Adriano Resende 2015-07-08 13:05:41

Waiting for browser any get ECMAScript 6

@harryg 2015-07-09 11:31:50

What would Babel transpile this to?

@Felix Kling 2015-07-09 13:22:35

@freemanoid 2015-07-09 19:03:14

Here is the compatibility table for ES6‌​rs Unfortunately this syntax isn't supported yet.

@ArtOfWarfare 2016-06-05 00:52:54

Edge14 and and current Chrome and Opera support it now, along with FF from last year... now just waiting on Safari, which supports it in the current beta, so hopefully in ~4 months the latest versions of all browsers will support it. Then you'll just have to wait for your users to actually update their browsers (or push them to do so.)

@TJ L 2009-05-21 20:18:46

I find something simple like this to be much more concise and readable personally.

function pick(arg, def) {
   return (typeof arg == 'undefined' ? def : arg);

function myFunc(x) {
  x = pick(x, 'my default');

@andersand 2014-08-15 20:12:02

Update: If you're using underscore.js already I find it even better to use _.defaults(iceCream, {flavor: "vanilla", sprinkles: "lots"});. Using the global namespace as shown in this answer is by many considered a bad practice. You may also consider rolling your own utility for this common task (eg. util.default(arg, "defaul value")) if don't want to use underscore, but I mostly end up using underscore sooner or later anyway no point in reinventing the wheel.

@JasonDavis 2014-10-13 02:08:08

@andersand I like the idea of something like util.default(arg, "defaul value")) would you or @tj111 mind posting a quick demo?

@super 2015-04-21 16:59:19

I actually recommend this one, i use it and call it "por" which stands for "parameter or"

@OsamaBinLogin 2015-10-20 15:06:51

Don't say typeof arg == 'undefined', instead say arg === undefined

@Alnitak 2015-11-16 11:34:59

@OsamaBinLogin what you say is correct for current JS - the older test persists because on some browsers it used to be possible to overwrite undefined with some other value, causing the test to fail.

@L S 2017-06-14 20:27:41

@Alnitak: It's still possible to override undefined. So, it's still a good idea to use typeof and 'undefined'.

@Alnitak 2017-06-15 08:40:56

@LS It's no longer possible to create a global variable named undefined. It's only possible to create a local variable or function parameter of that name, and if you introduce one of those into your function's lexical scope you've only got yourself to blame.

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