2.8 Working with Strings and Template Literals

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In our previous lesson, “2.6 Operator Precedence in JavaScript,” we explored the order in which operators are executed in JavaScript. In this tutorial, “2.8 Working with Strings and Template Literals,” we will dive into the world of strings and introduce you to a more efficient way of working with them using template literals.

Strings and Template Literals

Strings and template literals are important concepts in programming languages.

A string is a sequence of characters enclosed within quotation marks, such as “Hello, World!”. It can contain letters, numbers, symbols, and even empty spaces. Strings are often used to represent text-based information in code.

On the other hand, template literals (also known as template strings) provide an enhanced way to work with strings. They allow for embedding expressions inside backticks (` `), using placeholders (${expression}). This enables dynamic content insertion within the string without the need for concatenation or complex syntax.

Template literals offer several advantages over traditional strings. They make it easier to interpolate variables and expressions directly into the string, without tedious concatenation operations. Additionally, they support multiline strings by preserving line breaks.

By utilizing template literals effectively, programmers can create more readable and concise code while maintaining flexibility in manipulating strings.

Working with Strings

Understanding and manipulating strings is a crucial aspect of programming. Let’s begin by creating variables that represent information about a person (in this case, it’s about me) and then concatenate these variables to create one big string:

const firstName = "Amit";
const currentYear = 2023;
const birthYear = 1989;
const job = "developer";

Now, let’s utilize these variables to compose a string resembling "I'm Amit, a 33 or 34 years old developer." To achieve this, we’ll leverage the birthYear variable to calculate Amit’s age. As we covered in previous tutorials on “Basic Operators in JavaScript” and “Operator Precedence in JavaScript,” the plus sign (+) serves to concatenate strings. Let’s proceed with the implementation:

const amit =
  "I'm " +
  firstName +
  ", a " +
  (currentYear - birthYear) +
  " years old " +
  job +
  "!";

To visualize the result in the console, we can execute the following:

console.log(amit); // I'm Amit, a 34 years old programmer!

Now, you might wonder about the choice of using a mix of single and double quotes in the string "I'm ". This combination is employed to create a string containing an apostrophe. Specifically, the usage of double quotes for "I'm " is necessitated by the presence of a single quote (apostrophe) within the word. Using single quotes for the entire string would lead to a syntax error, as JavaScript would misinterpret the closing single quote in "I'm " as the end of the string, resulting in code complications.

ALSO READ:  2.6 Operator Precedence in JavaScript: Order of Operations

Introducing Template Literals

Dealing with complex strings, as illustrated above, can be somewhat cumbersome. That’s why, starting from ES6, a more efficient tool called Template literals has been introduced for such tasks.

With template literals, we can compose strings in a more conventional manner and directly embed variables into the string, which will then be seamlessly substituted. Essentially, template literals enable the assembly of multiple components into a final string.

To create template literals, backticks (``) are utilized. On the English keyboard, you can find this symbol above the tab key. Here’s an example:

const message = `I'm ${firstName}, a ${currentYear - birthYear} years old ${job}!`;

Let’s see the result in the console:

console.log(message); // I'm Amit, a 34 years old developer!

As you can see, this approach is much simpler. It involves only one string, and variables are inserted using the ${} syntax. It’s worth noting that any JavaScript code, technically expressions, can be written inside ${}, though more about expressions will be covered in later tutorials. This eliminates the need for plus signs (+) and the consideration of spaces, as seen in the “amit” example. Overall, this method offers a much more straightforward way of constructing strings.

It’s essential to use backticks (``) to inform JavaScript that a template string is being written; single or double quotes won’t work for this purpose.

Now that you understand how template strings operate in JavaScript, particularly in ES6, it’s worth noting that backticks can be used for all strings, even those without ${} placeholders. For instance:

console.log(`Just a regular string...`);

This works in the same way. Some developers have adopted the practice of using backticks for all strings, avoiding the need to decide which quotation marks to use. It provides a consistent approach, and in cases where a variable needs to be inserted, it’s more convenient than switching between different quote types. The choice depends on individual preferences, and while it might not be a personal preference, it is recognized as a sensible practice.

ALSO READ:  2.11 Type Conversion and Coercion in JavaScript

Creating Multiline Strings

Now, another excellent application of template literals is for generating multiline strings. This was somewhat cumbersome before the introduction of template strings. Let me demonstrate how it used to be done. In pre-ES6, to create a multiline string, you had to write a string with backslashes (\) and “n” or \n, which, in many programming languages, signifies a new line. In JavaScript, an additional backslash (\) was required, allowing you to move to the next line and continue the string, as shown below:

console.log(
  "String with \n\
new line character. \n\
Let's create a new one."
);

This resulted in a string with multiple lines, where the formatting indicated that it was a single string spread across multiple lines. The backslash followed by ‘n‘ or \n is a special character in programming languages, indicating the creation of a new line within a string.

However, with template strings, this process becomes much simpler. You can just press enter, and a new line will be created for you, like so:

console.log(`String
multiple
lines.`);

This feature becomes particularly valuable when we later begin constructing HTML from JavaScript. Using backticks (``) allows us to easily create multiline HTML elements and dynamically insert them onto a page. This functionality promises to be quite enjoyable.

So, whenever you find yourself needing a multiline string, using a template literal is a much cleaner and more straightforward approach.

That concludes the discussion on template literals. In the next tutorial, “Making Decisions with if and else Statements,” we will embark on making our code more engaging and taking it to the next level by incorporating decision-making structures.

ALSO READ:  2.12 Truthy and Falsy Values in JavaScript

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Working with Strings and Template Literals in JavaScript

Learning is a dynamic process, and it’s completely normal to encounter questions and uncertainties along your learning journey. To support you in navigating this path, we’ve compiled a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to Working with Strings and Template Literals in JavaScript. Whether you have doubts or require clarification on precedence usage, you’ll likely discover the answers within the following FAQs. Feel free to explore and enhance your comprehension of Strings and Template Literals.

Coding Challenge

You are tasked with creating a program that generates a personalized welcome message using template literals.

  1. Declare three variables: const firstName = "John"; const age = 28; const city = "New York";
  2. Use template literals to create a string that follows this format: Hello, my name is John. I am 28 years old, and I live in New York.
  3. Log the generated message to the console.

Challenge Extended:

Now, let's make it interactive. Use the prompt function to take user input for firstName, age, and city. Then, use template literals to create the personalized welcome message based on the user input.

Example:

User Input:

  • Enter your first name: Alice
  • Enter your age: 35
  • Enter your city: London

Output:

  • Hello, my name is Alice. I am 35 years old, and I live in London.

Constraints:

  • Ensure that the age input is a valid positive integer.
  • Handle edge cases appropriately (e.g., user pressing Cancel in the prompt).

Solution submission: Great work, learners! Now it’s your turn to tackle this coding challenge. Write the code to solve the problem described above and submit it in the comment box below. We’re excited to see your solutions!

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