Semico what?

Recently, at my workplace, a colleague felt a rustle up his jimmies due to our lack of semicolon usage in our NodeJs repos. The number of projects without semicolons were in the tens and there really wasn’t a good way to introduce semicolons in them even had the team agreed to do so. But that got me thinking.

Do we really need semi-colons?

Why have them or not have them? What are the arguments for and against the issue? What do people argue with when they want to defend their position? So I started doing some light research.

And yes, this was light research. I don’t care enough about the issues to have spent more than an hour on it. Do your own research if you care so much.

Stuff I Read

I read some stuff while researching this but these are the ones that I think you should start with. You should do your own research as well: don’t take my word for it. Branch out from these links and find your own perspective on the matter. If you write a more comprehensive post on the issue, hit me up coz I’d like to read that.

This is What People Seem to be Saying (heavily paraphrased)

Semico-yes:

  • Not using it introduces weird bugs.
  • My linter says so.
  • Douglas Crockford says so.
  • It’s what I’ve always done.
  • It’s the standard!

Semico-no:

  • It leads to less code.
  • It reminds me of Ruby,Python,Brainfuck.
  • Isaac Schlueter says so.
  • It’s what I’ve always done.

Right.

My Unsolicited Thoughts on the Matter

  • Using or not using semicolons in a language shouldn’t be because you miss using them/not using them in a different language.
  • With the way things are today, our interpreters and engines being smarter than ever, a lot of things come down to a matter of preference, semicolon being one of them.
  • That said certain things make sense about having semi-colons:
    • They explicitly terminate a statement. Anything that’s explicit requires less of your mind-power to grok. You don’t have to check the next line to see if a function call was terminated or chained.
    • -crickets chirping-

Final Thoughts

I like semicolons for their explicitness. But at the end of the day, either style works. I use semi-colons in my personal code and don’t in my professional. And I don’t find it that hard to switch between the styles (especially since I offload any checking to my linters). So, use what you want, and if you can’t because of whatever reasons, don’t make a big deal out of it. It matters very little.

Notes:

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