A function will be executed by an event or by a call to the function.

JavaScript Functions

To keep the browser from executing a script when the page loads, you can put your script into a function.

A function contains code that will be executed by an event or by a call to the function.

You may call a function from anywhere within a page (or even from other pages if the function is embedded in an external .js file).

Functions can be defined both in the <head> and in the <body> section of a document. However, to assure that a function is read/loaded by the browser before it is called, it could be wise to put functions in the <head> section.


How to Define a Function

Syntax
Code:
function functionname(var1,var2,...,varX)
{
some code
}
The parameters var1, var2, etc. are variables or values passed into the function. The { and the } defines the start and end of the function.

Note: A function with no parameters must include the parentheses () after the function name.



Note: Do not forget about the importance of capitals in JavaScript! The word function must be written in lowercase letters, otherwise a JavaScript error occurs! Also note that you must call a function with the exact same capitals as in the function name.


JavaScript Function Example

Example
Code:
<html>
<head>
<script type="text/javascript">
function displaymessage()
{
alert("Hello World!");
}
</script>
</head>

<body>
<form>
<input type="button" value="Click me!" onclick="displaymessage()" />
</form>
</body>
</html>
Try it yourself

If the line: alert("Hello world!!") in the example above had not been put within a function, it would have been executed as soon as the page was loaded. Now, the script is not executed before a user hits the input button. The function displaymessage() will be executed if the input button is clicked.


The return Statement

The return statement is used to specify the value that is returned from the function.
So, functions that are going to return a value must use the return statement.
The example below returns the product of two numbers (a and b):

Example
Code:
<html>
<head>
<script type="text/javascript">
function product(a,b)
{
return a*b;
}
</script>
</head>

<body>
<script type="text/javascript">
document.write(product(4,3));
</script>

</body>
</html>
Try it yourself


The Lifetime of JavaScript Variables

If you declare a variable, using "var", within a function, the variable can only be accessed within that function. When you exit the function, the variable is destroyed. These variables are called local variables. You can have local variables with the same name in different functions, because each is recognized only by the function in which it is declared.

If you declare a variable outside a function, all the functions on your page can access it. The lifetime of these variables starts when they are declared, and ends when the page is closed.