Vanilla JavaScript vs. Framework Functions

Had a quick conversation at work today about whether or not it was good to use built-in framework functions for tasks that are simple to write in vanilla JavaScript. For example:



typeof fn === 'function'

I’ve tended to do the vanilla JavaScript, but while checking if something is a function is almost identical in complexity/length, while others can be (slightly) more complex:



yourVariable !== null && typeof yourVariable === 'object'

Still, either way is pretty readable, and fairly clear what it is doing. I wonder if this is what leads to people bashing frameworks like Angular for teaching people the “framework” rather than vanilla JavaScript, as newer coders who may not have ever had to check variable types who are learning Angular may use the framework checks without knowing how to do a similar thing in vanilla JavaScript.

I like to collect snippets that will help me, and reuse them where appropriate. This probably tends to skew me towards vanilla JavaScript, because I want my snippets to work no matter what project I am working on. For example, the following snippet gets the class (or type) of a JavaScript variable.

 * getClass - get real type of JavaScript object 
 * @param object
 * @returns {string}
function getClass(object) {
    return, -1).toLowerCase();

getClass({}) // "object"
getClass([]) // "array"
getClass(function(){}) // "function"
getClass('') // "string"
getClass(1) // "number"

I came away from the conversation thinking there was not one right way. If you are writing an app with the help of of a framework, there is nothing wrong with using the tools the framework provides. At the same time, it shouldn’t become a crutch where a framework is needed because a developer isn’t comfortable doing the same thing in vanilla JavaScript.

Blog theme updated

Getting back to posting more often, and wanted a simple but clean theme. Found one that will do the job with minor customization. While I have the capacity to build my own theme from scratch, I’d agonize over the details, and this lets me focus on the content instead.

Support Net Neutrality, tell the FCC!

PSA: Less than 14 hours to go. That’s how long we have to get pro-Net Neutrality comments submitted to the FCC in front of their first comment period deadline (midnight Tuesday) — and save the Internet from the clutches of Comcast, Time Warner, and their ilk.

This website makes it very easy to send the FCC a formal comment demanding support for Net Neutrality. It’ll only take a minute, although if you customize the message it may have even more impact.

SelfConference, chance to learn and to speak

A big thank you to the organizers of SelfConference ’14 in Detroit, MI.  It was held at Cobo, in the recently revamped section, and it was quite nice!  The conference had some great sessions and I had the exciting opportunity of presenting at one of them.

On Friday, I enjoyed talks about owning your own career in the development industry, why you should actively try to piss people off, working with Sass, a bit about Ember and also how to Quantify myself.

On Saturday, it was a bit of a blur as I was concerned about speaking at 2PM, for the session entitled Blind Faith and Best Practices, a talk about front-end best practices and attempting to get developers to research the why behind them rather than blindly following what someone says is a best practice.  That said, I still learned about making the web secure by default, the emerging world of DevOps and a bit about Ionic.  I also sat in on the How to Build a Time Machine talk by Adam Kempa and Karen Ford, a case study of the WhatWasThere website build.

Overall, this weekend was quite enjoyable, and the credit for that goes to the organizers of the conference. Looking forward to future years and watching how the dev. community in Detroit continues to explode.

Getting the number of Facebook shares and/or likes of a URL

So…you want to display the number of times your url has been shared/liked on Facebook, but you don’t want to just use the Like Button with the count?  I don’t blame you, while I use the Like button when appropriate (and that IS the easiest way to get that number, it doesn’t help you at all when you want to do something a bit cool with the information, or display it in a unique format.

So, there are 2 ways currently to get an URL’s Facebook Shares.  You can make a query against the Facebook REST API and use the links.getStats method, or you can use the Graph API to make an FQL (Facebook Query Language) call.

The REST API is really easy to use, but unfortunately, it is deprecated, so Facebook could shut it off tomorrow if they wanted to.  Personally, I doubt it gets shut off, but don’t come crying back here if you use it and something stops working because they do.

To make a call using the REST API, using one of my more popular posts as an example, you can make a query to the following URL like so:

That will return a block of XML (yes, XML) that looks like this:

<links_getStats_response xmlns="" xmlns:xsi="" xsi:schemaLocation="" list="true">






Then you’d just need to parse that returned XML into a usable format and grab the values that you want.  Generally you are going to want the total_count element, but sometimes you may want to differentiate between Shares and Likes.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, the REST API is deprecated, so if that concerns you, you can use FQL to query Facebook using the Graph API.

You can query the link_stat table with something like the following query:


You can make a GET request to the Graph API and the Graph API will give you back a JSON response listing the fields you requested.[QUERY] url, normalized_url, share_count, like_count, comment_count, total_count, commentsbox_count, comments_fbid, click_count FROM link_stat WHERE url=""

The returned JSON should look like this, and is very easy to parse for the data you want.

   "data": [
         "url": "",
         "normalized_url": "",
         "share_count": 22,
         "like_count": 51,
         "comment_count": 0,
         "total_count": 73,
         "commentsbox_count": 0,
         "comments_fbid": 468455836580018,
         "click_count": 0


My recommendation is to go ahead and get comfortable with, and use, the FQL query syntax and the Graph API.  That way you are protected against the REST API going away and you get JSON, which is slightly easier to work with than XML.

Enjoy querying against Facebook, FQL is quite powerful and there is quite a bit of information you can get with a bit of digging through the docs.