Ternary Operators in JavaScript Without an “Else”

I've always had to put null in the else conditions that don't have anything. Is there anyway around it? E.g.

condition ? x = true : null;

basically, is there a way to do:

condition ? x = true;

Now it shows up as a syntax error

FYI, here is some real example code:

!defaults.slideshowWidth ? defaults.slideshowWidth = obj.find('img').width()+'px' : null;



First of all, a ternary expression is not a replacement for an if/else construct - its an equivalent to an if/else construct that returns a value. That is, an if/else clause is code, a ternary expression is an expression, meaning that it returns a value.

This mean several things:

  • use ternary expressions only when you have a variable on the left side of the = that is to be assigned the return value
  • only use ternary expressions when the returned value is to be one of two values (or use nested expressions if that is fitting)
  • each part of the expression (after ? and after : ) should return a value without side effects (the expression x = true returns true as all expressions return the last value, but also changes x without x having any effect on the returned value)

In short - the 'correct' use of a ternary expression is

var resultofexpression = conditionasboolean ? truepart: falsepart;

Instead of your example condition ? x=true : null ;, where you use a ternary expression to set the value of x, you can use this:

 condition && (x = true);

This is still an expression and might therefore not pass validation, so an even better approach would be

 void(condition && x = true);

The last one will pass validation.

But then again, if the expected value is a boolean, just use the result of the condition expression itself

var x = (condition); // var x = (foo == "bar");

UPDATE In relation to your sample this is probably more appropriate:

defaults.slideshowWidth = defaults.slideshowWidth || obj.find('img').width()+'px';

No, it needs three operands. That's why they're called ternary operators.

However, for what you have as your example, you can do this:

if(condition) x = true;

Although it's safer to have braces if you need to add more than one statement in the future:

if(condition) { x = true; }

Edit: Now that you mention the actual code in which your question applies to:

    { defaults.slideshowWidth = obj.find('img').width()+'px'; }
var x = condition || null;

More often people get use of logical operators to shorten the statement syntax:

!defaults.slideshowWidth &&
  (defaults.slideshowWidth = obj.find('img').width()+'px');

But in your particular case the syntax can be even simpler

defaults.slideshowWidth = defaults.slideshowWidth || obj.find('img').width()+'px';

This code will return the defaults.slideshowWidth value if the defaults.slideshowWidth is evaluated to true and obj.find('img').width()+'px' value otherwise.

See the Short-Circuit Evaluation of logical operators for details.


You could write

x = condition ? true : x;

So that x is unmodified when the condition is false.

This then is equivalent to

if (condition) x = true


      ? defaults.slideshowWidth = obj.find('img').width()+'px' 
      : null 

There are a couple of alternatives - I'm not saying these are better/worse - merely alternatives

Passing in null as the third parameter works because the existing value is null. If you refactor and change the condition, then there is a danger that this is no longer true. Passing in the exising value as the 2nd choice in the ternary guards against this:

!defaults.slideshowWidth = 
      ? defaults.slideshowWidth = obj.find('img').width()+'px' 
      : defaults.slideshowwidth 

Safer, but perhaps not as nice to look at, and more typing. In practice, I'd probably write

defaults.slideshowWidth = defaults.slideshowWidth 
               || obj.find('img').width()+'px'

In your case i see the ternary operator as redundant. You could assign the variable directly to the expression, using ||, && operators.

!defaults.slideshowWidth ? defaults.slideshowWidth = obj.find('img').width()+'px' : null ;

will become :

defaults.slideshowWidth = defaults.slideshowWidth || obj.find('img').width()+'px';

It's more clear, it's more "javascript" style.


What about simply

    if (condition) { code if condition = true };

To use a Ternary Operator without else inside of an array or object declaration you can use the ES6 spread operator ...()

const cond = false;
const arr = [
  ...(cond ? ['a'] : []),
    // ['b']

And for objects:

const cond = false;
const obj = {
  ...(cond ? {a: 1} : {}),
  b: 2,
    // {b: 2}

original source


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