Angular.js: How does $eval work and why is it different from vanilla eval?


I was curious about the $scope.$eval you so often see in directives, so I checked out the source and found the following in rootScope.js:

  $eval: function(expr, locals) {
    return $parse(expr)(this, locals);

$parse appears to be defined by ParseProvider in parse.js, which appears to define some kind of mini-syntax of its own (the file is 900 lines long).

My questions are:

  1. What exactly is $eval doing? Why does it need its own mini parsing language?

  2. Why isn't plain old JavaScript eval being used?

This question is tagged with angularjs

~ Asked on 2013-03-27 23:24:51

The Best Answer is


$eval and $parse don't evaluate JavaScript; they evaluate AngularJS expressions. The linked documentation explains the differences between expressions and JavaScript.

Q: What exactly is $eval doing? Why does it need its own mini parsing language?

From the docs:

Expressions are JavaScript-like code snippets that are usually placed in bindings such as {{ expression }}. Expressions are processed by $parse service.

It's a JavaScript-like mini-language that limits what you can run (e.g. no control flow statements, excepting the ternary operator) as well as adds some AngularJS goodness (e.g. filters).

Q: Why isn't plain old javascript "eval" being used?

Because it's not actually evaluating JavaScript. As the docs say:

If ... you do want to run arbitrary JavaScript code, you should make it a controller method and call the method. If you want to eval() an angular expression from JavaScript, use the $eval() method.

The docs linked to above have a lot more information.

~ Answered on 2013-03-27 23:36:09


From the test,

it('should allow passing locals to the expression', inject(function($rootScope) {
  expect($rootScope.$eval('a+1', {a: 2})).toBe(3);

  $rootScope.$eval(function(scope, locals) {
    scope.c = locals.b + 4;
  }, {b: 3});

We also can pass locals for evaluation expression.

~ Answered on 2013-12-16 15:45:02

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