How to get the global object in JavaScript?

I want to check in a script if a certain other module is already loaded.

if (ModuleName) {
    // extend this module
}

But if ModuleName doesn't exist, that throws.

If I knew what the Global Object was I could use that.

if (window.ModuleName) {
    // extend this module
}

But since I want my module to work with both browsers and node, rhino, etc., I can't assume window.

As I understand it, this doesn't work in ES 5 with "use strict";

var MyGLOBAL = (function () {return this;}()); // MyGlobal becomes null

This will also fail with a thrown exception

var MyGLOBAL = window || GLOBAL

So it seems like I'm left with

try {
    // Extend ModuleName
} 
catch(ignore) {
}

None of these cases will pass JSLint.

Am I missing anything?

Answers:

Answer

Well, you can use the typeof operator, and if the identifier doesn't exist in any place of the scope chain, it will not throw a ReferenceError, it will just return "undefined":

if (typeof ModuleName != 'undefined') {
  //...
}

Remember also that the this value on Global code, refers to the global object, meaning that if your if statement is on the global context, you can simply check this.ModuleName.

About the (function () { return this; }()); technique, you are right, on strict mode the this value will simply be undefined.

Under strict mode there are two ways to get a reference to the Global object, no matter where you are:

  • Through the Function constructor:

    var global = Function('return this')();
    

Functions created with the Function constructor don't inherit the strictness of the caller, they are strict only if they start their body with the 'use strict' directive, otherwise they are non-strict.

This method is compatible with any ES3 implementation.

  • Through an indirect eval call, for example:

    "use strict";
    var get = eval;
    var global = get("this");
    

The above will work because in ES5, indirect calls to eval, use the global environment as both, the variable environment and lexical environment for the eval code.

See details on Entering Eval Code, Step 1.

But be aware that the last solution will not work on ES3 implementations, because an indirect call to eval on ES3 will use the variable and lexical environments of the caller as the environments for the eval code itself.

And at last, you may find useful to detect if strict mode is supported:

var isStrictSupported = (function () { "use strict"; return !this; })();
Answer

Update 2019

With all of today's Webpacks and Broccolis, and Gulps and Grunts, and TypeScripts and AltScripts, and create-react-apps, etc, this is pretty useless, but if you're just working with plain, old, VanillaJS and you want to make it isomorphic, this is probably your best option:

var global
try {
  global = Function('return this')();
} catch(e) {
  global = window;
}

The Function constructor invocation will work even when using --use_strict in node, as the Function constructor always executes in a global non-strict scope.

If the Function constructor fails, it's because you're in a browser with eval disabled by CSP headers.

Of course, with Deno on the way (the node replacement), they may also disallow the Function constructor, in which case it's back to enumerating objects like global, module, exports, globalThis and window, and then duck-type checking which is the global exhaustively... :-/

Crazy one-line solution (Original):

var global = Function('return this')() || (42, eval)('this');

.

.

.

Works

  • in every environment (that I tested)
  • in strict mode
  • and even in a nested scope

Update 2014-Sept-23

This can now fail if HTTP headers in the latest browsers explicitly forbid eval.

A workaround would be to try / catch the original solution as only browsers are known to run this type of subset of JavaScript.

var global;

try {
  global = Function('return this')() || (42, eval)('this');
} catch(e) {
  global = window;
}
Example:
---

    (function () {

      var global = Function('return this')() || (42, eval)('this');
      console.log(global);

      // es3 context is `global`, es5 is `null`
      (function () {
        "use strict";

        var global = Function('return this')() || (42, eval)('this');
        console.log(global);

      }());

      // es3 and es5 context is 'someNewContext'
      (function () {

        var global = Function('return this')() || (42, eval)('this');
        console.log(global);

      }).call('someNewContext');

    }());

Tested:
---

  * Chrome v12
  * Node.JS v0.4.9
  * Firefox v5
  * MSIE 8

Why:
---

In short: it's some weird quirk. See the comments below (or the post above)


In `strict mode` `this` is never the global, but also in `strict mode` `eval` operates in a separate context in which `this` *is* always the global.

In non-strict mode `this` is the current context. If there is no current context, it assumes the global. An anonymous function has no context and hence in non-strict mode assumes the global.

Sub Rant:

There's a silly misfeature of JavaScript that 99.9% of the time just confuses people called the 'comma operator'.

    var a = 0, b = 1;
    a = 0, 1;          // 1
    (a = 0), 1;        // 1
    a = (0, 1);        // 1
    a = (42, eval);    // eval
    a('this');         // the global object
Answer

Why just don't simply use this in a global scope as param to a wrapper function, as follows?

(function (global) {
    'use strict';
    // Code
}(this));
Answer

Here you go :)

var globalObject = (function(){return this;})();

This should work from anywhere, for example from within another closure.

Edit - just read your post more carefully and saw the part about ES5 strict mode. Can anyone shed some more light on that? This has been the accepted way to get the the global object for as long as I can remember... I sure hope it doesn't end up getting broken.

Edit 2 - CMS' answer has more info on ES5 strict mode's treatment of this.

Answer

I think this is pretty much okay in rhino, node, browser and with jslint (without additional workaround flags) - would this help? Am I missing something?

x = 1;
(function(global){
    "use strict";
    console.log(global.x);
}(this));

Though I myself tend to use the window object and if I do need headless testing I can use env.js (rhino) or Phantom (node).

Answer

ECMAScript will be adding this to its standard soon: https://github.com/tc39/proposal-global

Until its done, this is what's recommended:

var getGlobal = function () {
    // the only reliable means to get the global object is
    // `Function('return this')()`
    // However, this causes CSP violations in Chrome apps.
    if (typeof self !== 'undefined') { return self; }
    if (typeof window !== 'undefined') { return window; }
    if (typeof global !== 'undefined') { return global; }
    throw new Error('unable to locate global object');
};
Answer

This is not passing jslint: var Fn = Function, global = Fn('return this')();

Try it yourself: http://www.jslint.com/

this will: var Fn = Function, global = new Fn('return this')();

But effectively those are same thing according to MDN:

Invoking the Function constructor as a function (without using the new operator) has the same effect as invoking it as a constructor.

Answer

This following solution works in:

  • Chrome
  • Node.JS
  • Firefox
  • MSIE
  • Web Workers

The code is:

(function (__global) {
  // __global here points to the global object
})(typeof window !== "undefined" ? window : 
   typeof WorkerGlobalScope !== "undefined" ? self :
   typeof global !== "undefined" ? global :
   Function("return this;")());

You just need to change X for the name of the variable that you would like to

Answer

I had this problem before, I'm not happy with the solution, but it works and passes JSLint (assume browser|assume node):

"use strict";
var GLOBAL;
try{
    /*BROWSER*/
    GLOBAL = window;
}catch(e){
    /*NODE*/
    GLOBAL = global;
}
if(GLOBAL.GLOBAL !== GLOBAL){
    throw new Error("library cannot find the global object");
}

once you have the GLOBAL var you can do your checking, and at the end of the script type

delete GLOBAL.GLOBAL;
Answer

Here's what I am using:

"use strict";
if(this && this.hasOwnProperty && !this.hasOwnProperty('globalScope')){
    try {
        globalScope = Function('return this')();
    }catch(ex){
        if(this.hasOwnProperty('window')){
            globalScope = window;
        }else{
            throw 'globalScope not found';
        }
    }
}

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