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Understanding the difference between .prototype and .__proto__ in JavaScript

Add property to function

function foo() {}
foo.firstName = 'zac'
console.log(foo.firstName) // zac

Functions are first class objects in JavaScript which means they can have their own properties and methods like any other plain object could. You wouldn't typically find people adding properties to a function though, this is for demonstration purposes.

Every time a function is created, JavaScript will add a property to that function called prototype. This prototype property has two things on it. a constructor property which points back to the function itself and the __proto__ property.

Why does the prototype property exist if we already have proto? What purpose does prototype serve?

This prototype property is not used in the prototype chain look-up if we were to "dot" onto the foo function when looking up a property.

__proto__ is also automatically created when a function is created and that is what JavaScript will use to look up methods it doesn't find immediately.

function foo() {}
foo.prototype.test = 'hello world'
console.log(foo.prototype) // foo { test: 'hello world'}
const name = new foo()
console.log(name.test) // hello world

name.test is found on the name object because it is a new instance of the foo() function. Whatever prototype that currently lives on a function when a new instance is created with the new keyword will also be present on that new variable (name) as well.

Is the prototype that's passed to the new instance passed by reference? In other words, can it be mutated?

Origininal prototype is immutable

$ name
foo {}
test: "hello world"
constructor: ƒ foo()
__proto__: Object
$ name.test = "hey"
$ name
foo {test: "hey"}
$ foo.prototype.test
"hello world"

The keyword Object is actually a function in JavaScript. Array, Map, and Set also have global functions like Object.

These global functions are connected to the __proto__ property to every instance of the object it corresoponds to. These functions are where many methods you use actually live.

In other words, you're using prototype inheritance every time you use any kind of object within your code.

Global prototype function is equal to the instance method

JS === [].map // true

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