Sunday, January 30, 2011

When to use events & when to use callbacks?

With the recent spate of javascript programming that I've been subject to, I've found myself asking this question quite often to myself "Should I use callbacks here or should I use events (jQuery trigger & bind)?"

I've found this initial approximation quite useful till now: "If the operation that will follow depends upon the exact instance of this operation, then wrap the state in a closure and use a callback. Otherwise, use events." The advantage of using events is that:
1. You need not think of all the actions that could result in this event handler being called.
2. You need not tell anyone that this particular event handler needs to be invoked. Everyone just publishes some data (like a tweet) and all those interested (followers) just gobble that data up.
3. You can dynamically attach event handlers. So, if some component in the system suddenly decided to react to certain events, it can just plonk itself into to the listeners queue for that event.

jQuery goes one step further and allows you to trigger (and bind) events on specific DOM nodes only!! And then it goes a step further and lets you define an event namespace to try and prevent event name conflicts.

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