About a month ago, I joined a JavaScript study group. While I have done some lessons and some simple JavaScript as well as JQuery for different projects, I felt I would benefit from additional practice.

Our first task as a group was to write a calculator in pure JavaScript. This involved making various calls to the DOM and changing values in the textfield as number values changed. I learned many things working on this and really made me excited to dig into more aspects of JavaScript.

There were some logical considerations for an app like a calculator. First I had to make sure that when performing an operation that there is already a previous number, an operator and a new number to evaluate this against. Most of this logic can be found in my performOp() function which adds an operator to my opStack depending on how many numbers are already in numStack. Getting this logic down was challenging at first but I’m pleased with where I have taken it to this point.

function performOp() {
  if (result.value!='' && numPressed) {
    if (numStack.length == 0) {
    } else {
      result.value = operation[opStack.pop()](Number(numStack.pop()), 
  numPressed = false;

I was also happy with my solution to defining how the different operators will be carried out. I learned that you can make a hash of different functions that can be called individually. So from the following:

var operation = {
  '+': function(a,b) { return a + b},
  '-': function(a,b) { return a - b},
  '*': function(a,b) { return a * b},
  '/': function(a,b) { return a / b}

one would be able to call operation[‘+’](1,2) to get the result 3. This allows for the operator as a string type to be evaluated according to the definition in the hash.

The full repo for this can be found here. To play around with the calculator, visit my calculator page.

I had a lot a fun playing around with this and figuring out some more JavaScript. Some ways I’d like to improve this is to make the code a little more descriptive as to what is going on and perhaps having a function to update the textfield so it isn’t done as part of other functions. Currently, I am looking at rebuilding this calculator anew using React as a framework.

Written on June 29, 2016