node.js global variables?


I asked here: node.js require inheritance?

and was told that I can set variables to the global scope by leaving out the var.

This does not work for me.


_ = require('underscore');

Does not make the _ available on required files. I can set with express's app.set and have it available elsewhere though.

Can somebody confirm that this is supposed to work? Thanks.

5/23/2017 11:33:26 AM

Accepted Answer

global._ = require('underscore')

10/27/2016 6:02:43 AM

In node, you can set global variables via the "global" or "GLOBAL" object:

GLOBAL._ = require('underscore'); // but you "shouldn't" do this! (see note below)

or more usefully...

GLOBAL.window = GLOBAL;  // like in the browser

From the node source, you can see that these are aliased to each other:

28:     global = this;
128:    global.GLOBAL = global;

In the code above, "this" is the global context. With the commonJS module system (which node uses), the "this" object inside of a module (ie, "your code") is NOT the global context. For proof of this, see below where I spew the "this" object and then the giant "GLOBAL" object.


/* outputs ...


{ ArrayBuffer: [Function: ArrayBuffer],
  Int8Array: { [Function] BYTES_PER_ELEMENT: 1 },
  Uint8Array: { [Function] BYTES_PER_ELEMENT: 1 },
  Int16Array: { [Function] BYTES_PER_ELEMENT: 2 },
  Uint16Array: { [Function] BYTES_PER_ELEMENT: 2 },
  Int32Array: { [Function] BYTES_PER_ELEMENT: 4 },
  Uint32Array: { [Function] BYTES_PER_ELEMENT: 4 },
  Float32Array: { [Function] BYTES_PER_ELEMENT: 4 },
  Float64Array: { [Function] BYTES_PER_ELEMENT: 8 },
  DataView: [Function: DataView],
  global: [Circular],
   { EventEmitter: [Function: EventEmitter],
     title: 'node',
     assert: [Function],
     version: 'v0.6.5',
     _tickCallback: [Function],
      [ 'Binding evals',
        'Binding natives',
        'NativeModule events',
        'NativeModule buffer',
        'Binding buffer',
        'NativeModule assert',
        'NativeModule util',
        'NativeModule path',
        'NativeModule module',
        'NativeModule fs',
        'Binding fs',
        'Binding constants',
        'NativeModule stream',
        'NativeModule console',
        'Binding tty_wrap',
        'NativeModule tty',
        'NativeModule net',
        'NativeModule timers',
        'Binding timer_wrap',
        'NativeModule _linklist' ],
      { node: '0.6.5',
        v8: '',
        ares: '1.7.5-DEV',
        uv: '0.6',
        openssl: '0.9.8n' },
     nextTick: [Function],
     stdout: [Getter],
     arch: 'x64',
     stderr: [Getter],
     platform: 'darwin',
     argv: [ 'node', '/workspace/zd/zgap/darwin-js/index.js' ],
     stdin: [Getter],
      { TERM_PROGRAM: '',
        TERM: 'xterm',
        SHELL: '/bin/bash',
        TMPDIR: '/var/folders/2h/2hQmtmXlFT4yVGtr5DBpdl9LAiQ/-Tmp-/',
        Apple_PubSub_Socket_Render: '/tmp/launch-9Ga0PT/Render',
        USER: 'ddopson',
        COMMAND_MODE: 'unix2003',
        SSH_AUTH_SOCK: '/tmp/launch-sD905b/Listeners',
        __CF_USER_TEXT_ENCODING: '0x12D732E7:0:0',
        PATH: '/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin:~/bin:/usr/X11/bin',
        PWD: '/workspace/zd/zgap/darwin-js',
        LANG: 'en_US.UTF-8',
        ITERM_PROFILE: 'Default',
        SHLVL: '1',
        COLORFGBG: '7;0',
        HOME: '/Users/ddopson',
        ITERM_SESSION_ID: 'w0t0p0',
        LOGNAME: 'ddopson',
        DISPLAY: '/tmp/launch-l9RQXI/org.x:0',
        OLDPWD: '/workspace/zd/zgap/darwin-js/external',
        _: './index.js' },
     openStdin: [Function],
     exit: [Function],
     pid: 10321,
      { debug: false,
        uv: true,
        ipv6: true,
        tls_npn: false,
        tls_sni: true,
        tls: true },
     kill: [Function],
     execPath: '/usr/local/bin/node',
     addListener: [Function],
     _needTickCallback: [Function],
     on: [Function],
     removeListener: [Function],
     reallyExit: [Function],
     chdir: [Function],
     debug: [Function],
     error: [Function],
     cwd: [Function],
     watchFile: [Function],
     umask: [Function],
     getuid: [Function],
     unwatchFile: [Function],
     mixin: [Function],
     setuid: [Function],
     setgid: [Function],
     createChildProcess: [Function],
     getgid: [Function],
     inherits: [Function],
     _kill: [Function],
     _byteLength: [Function],
      { id: '.',
        exports: {},
        parent: null,
        filename: '/workspace/zd/zgap/darwin-js/index.js',
        loaded: false,
        exited: false,
        children: [],
        paths: [Object] },
     _debugProcess: [Function],
     dlopen: [Function],
     uptime: [Function],
     memoryUsage: [Function],
     uvCounters: [Function],
     binding: [Function] },
  GLOBAL: [Circular],
  root: [Circular],
   { [Function: Buffer]
     poolSize: 8192,
     isBuffer: [Function: isBuffer],
     byteLength: [Function],
     _charsWritten: 8 },
  setTimeout: [Function],
  setInterval: [Function],
  clearTimeout: [Function],
  clearInterval: [Function],
  console: [Getter],
  window: [Circular],
  navigator: {} }

** Note: regarding setting "GLOBAL._", in general you should just do var _ = require('underscore');. Yes, you do that in every single file that uses underscore, just like how in Java you do import;. This makes it easier to figure out what your code is doing because the linkages between files are 'explicit'. Mildly annoying, but a good thing. .... That's the preaching.

There is an exception to every rule. I have had precisely exactly ONE instance where I needed to set "GLOBAL._". I was creating a system for defining "config" files which were basically JSON, but were "written in JS" to allow a bit more flexibility. Such config files had no 'require' statements, but I wanted them to have access to underscore (the ENTIRE system was predicated on underscore and underscore templates), so before evaluating the "config", I would set "GLOBAL._". So yeah, for every rule, there's an exception somewhere. But you had better have a darn good reason and not just "i get tired of typing 'require' so I want to break with convention".

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