# Double exclamation points?

205

So I was debuging some code and ran across this:

var foo.bar = 0; // this is actually passed from another function, adding it for context

function(foo) {
var someVar = !!foo.bar;

if (foo.bar) {
// ..stuff happens
} else {
// .. something else happens
}
}

Okay my questions is what is the point of !!? All that is doing is making the 0 === false.

1. Is there any benefit to using that compared to boolean(foo.bar)?

2. foo.bar can be evaluated in an if as is because 0 === false already, so why go through the conversion? (someVar is not reused anywhere else)

This question is tagged with javascript

322

This converts a value to a boolean and ensures a boolean type.

"foo"      // Evaluates to "foo".
!"foo"     // Evaluates to false.
!!"foo"    // Evaluates to true.

If foo.bar is passed through, then it may not be 0 but some other falsy value. See the following truth table:

Truth Table for javascript

''        ==   '0'           // false
0         ==   ''            // true
0         ==   '0'           // true
false     ==   'false'       // false
false     ==   '0'           // true
false     ==   undefined     // false
false     ==   null          // false
null      ==   undefined     // true
" \t\r\n" ==   0             // true

Source: Doug Crockford

Javascript also gets really weird when it comes to NaN values. And this is the only case I can think of off the top of my head where !! would behave differently to ===.

NaN   ===  NaN     //false
!!NaN === !!NaN    //true

// !!NaN is false

15

I think the answer is that there isn't really much point. We can speculate about how it came about:

• maybe an earlier version of the function used someVar in multiple places, or in ways that genuinely benefited from having true or false, so this made more sense.
• maybe the person who wrote the function is so used to using !! to convert to true/false that (s)he didn't even notice that it wasn't necessary here.
• maybe the person who wrote the function feels that every computation (in this case, Boolean conversion) should be given a meaningful name by assigning some variable to its result.
• maybe, since Boolean conversion in JavaScript is surprisingly error-prone (in that e.g. new Boolean(false) is a true-valued value), the person who wrote the function feels that it should always be done explicitly rather than implicitly — even though the effect is the same — just to call attention to it as a potential point of error.
• this, of course, presupposes that the person who wrote the function thinks of !! as an "explicit" Boolean conversion. Technically it's not — it uses the same implicit Boolean conversion that if does — but if you're used to this idiom, then it amounts to an explicit conversion.

but in my subjective opinion, none of those reasons is a very good one!