Be Careful with Prototype Property

Today, I have spent nearly half a day wrestling with a bug. Eventually, it turned out that the root cause is the misuse of prototype property. Prototype property is like a pitfall for someone like me who comes from the object-oriented world. In Java, for instance, it’s quite normal to define a common property in the base class, so that all the derived classes contain this property. Hence, it’s no surprise I wrote down some silly codes like below:

Everything looks fine! ChildModel is a constructor function. Its prototype is a BaseModel object, which owns a property map. In the beginning, an instance of ChildModel is created and assigned to child. It inserts a key-value pair ‘salary : 2000’ into map. Subsequently, it restores map to an empty object. And then, another instance of ChildModel is created and assigned to child. I assumed that the map property of this newly created instance is clean. Isn’t it?

Oh, no. It still holds the key-value pair ‘salary : 2000’. Haven’t I already cleaned it? The pity is I didn’t. Let’s take a closer look at insert and teardown function and find out why. In the insert function, child manipulates the prototype property map directly. Hence, the key-value pair ‘salary : 2000’ is stored in the prototype property map.

However, in the teardown function, child restores map to a clean object. Doesn’t it? What, it doesn’t touch the prototype property map, instead, in creates a new property map on itself. And the newly added property overrides the prototype property.

Oh, I see. So the second created instance of ChildModel still inherits from prototype object. And the prototype object still contains the key-value pair ‘salary : 2000’.

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