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    Handle Exceptions with ES2019 Optional Catch Bindings in JavaScript

    Mike SherovMike Sherov
    javascriptJavaScript

    ES2019 introduces the optional catch binding syntax. This allows us to catch errors without assigning the error to a variable. In this lesson, we'll investigate cases where it's appropriate to catch errors without propagating them further. Then we'll introduce an optional catch binding to make our intent clear.

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    Instructor: Here we have our Nuxt.js application, which prints out average students per session by site and the average scores students achieve on their tests. In the index file of our Nuxt.js application, there is an asyncData function that retrieves data either from disk or from the network in order to populate the initial data set for whatever Vue components are within this application.

    In this case, we're reading data from two JSON files that are stored on disk, awaiting the result of that asynchronous operation, and storing the supposed JSON to two variables, scoresJSON and sitesJSON.

    As of this point, these two variables are strings. Typically, in an application, we have to parse them as JSON in order to get them to be turned into an object. Here, we see our parseRecords function that takes in something that may be JSON and attempts to JSON.parse it and, if it is unable to do so, will throw a new error saying, "Unable to parse."

    If the parsing is successful, the application continues. However, if we introduce a typo into one of these JSON files, save it, and refresh our application, it now displays, "Unable to parse," which is a result of throwing the error in our parseRecords function.

    In order to get more information to the developer of the program, we may want to print out the JSON with the typo in it. If we refresh again, we see now it shows the actual JSON string that was attempted to be parsed. If you look back in our code, you notice that we're not actually using the error that came out of JSON.parse. We know what the error is. The error is it was unable to parse.

    If we print out the error itself instead, we show that it shows the error that happened, but this isn't really useful to us. There is a concept in programming known as handler propagate all errors. In this case, we don't really need the error. Perhaps it would be better just to print out the JSON.

    Prior to ES2019, even if you didn't want to use the error, you still had to catch the actual exception even if you weren't going to use it. This is a bit confusing. I see that I'm catching e, but I'm not using e anywhere in the body of my catch clause.

    There was a bit of controversy surrounding whether or not optional catch binding should exist, under the assumption that e should always be used in the body of the catch statement. However, as we see here, we're not using it in this case. Seeing as there are legitimate cases from when we don't want to actually use the exception in our catch body, ES2019 allows us to simply remove it.

    If I run the code again, you see that it still works. This is much clearer, as if we don't use a variable, we don't need to declare it.