SetTimeout in JavaScript
Oct 17, 2020 03:06 0 Comments Javascript PARTH

                                                                 SetTimeout in JavaScript


We may decide to execute a function not right now, but at a certain time later. That’s called “scheduling a call”.

setTimeout allows us to run a function once after the interval of time.


The syntax:

let timerId = setTimeout(func|code, [delay], [arg1], [arg2], ...)



Function or a string of code to execute. Usually, that’s a function. For historical reasons, a string of code can be passed, but that’s not recommended.


The delay before running, in milliseconds (1000 ms = 1 second), by default 0.

arg1, arg2…

Arguments for the function (not supported in IE9-)

For instance, this code calls sayHi() after one second:

function sayHi() {

  alert('Hello'); }

setTimeout(sayHi, 1000);

With arguments:

function sayHi(phrase, who) {

  alert( phrase + ', ' + who ); }

setTimeout(sayHi, 1000, "Hello", "John"); // Hello, John

If the first argument is a string, then JavaScript creates a function from it.

So, this will also work:

setTimeout("alert('Hello')", 1000);

But using strings is not recommended, use arrow functions instead of them, like this:

setTimeout(() => alert('Hello'), 1000);

Pass a function, but don’t run it

Novice developers sometimes make a mistake by adding brackets () after the function:

// wrong!

setTimeout(sayHi(), 1000);

That doesn’t work, because setTimeout expects a reference to a function. And here sayHi() runs the function, and the result of its execution is passed to setTimeout. In our case the result of sayHi() is undefined (the function returns nothing), so nothing is scheduled.

Canceling with clearTimeout

A call to setTimeout returns a “timer identifier” timerId that we can use to cancel the execution.

The syntax to cancel:

let timerId = setTimeout(...);


In the code below, we schedule the function and then cancel it (changed our mind). As a result, nothing happens:

let timerId = setTimeout(() => alert("never happens"), 1000);

alert(timerId); // timer identifier


alert(timerId); // same identifier (doesn't become null after canceling)

As we can see from alert output, in a browser the timer identifier is a number. In other environments, this can be something else. For instance, Node.js returns a timer object with additional methods.

Again, there is no universal specification for these methods, so that’s fine.

For browsers, timers are described in the timers section of HTML5 standard.

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