JavaScript Error Handling

JavaScript Error Handling – RangeError: Precision is out of range

Today, as we continue along through our in-depth JavaScript Error Handling series, we’re going to take a look at the ‘Precision is out of range’ error. The Invalid Precision error will occur anytime a number object is provided an invalid numeric value for one of the precision-based JavaScript methods, which we’ll explore more below.

In this post, we’ll take a look at what causes an Invalid Precision error, and also examine how to capture and handle this error. Off we go!

The Technical Rundown

  • All JavaScript error objects are descendants of the Error object, or an inherited object therein.
  • The RangeError object is inherited from the Error object.
  • The Invalid Precision error is a specific type of RangeError object.

When Should You Use It?

To understand what explicitly causes an Invalid Precision error, we must first understand the basic methods JavaScript includes and attached to the Number object prototype, which allow us to affect the precision representation of a number. These include:

  • toExponential(): Returns a String representing the Number in exponential notation.
  • toFixed(): Returns a Number using fixed-point notation.
  • toPrecision(): Returns a String representing the Number, out to the specified level of precision.

Now, anytime one of these methods is called, the first (and only) parameter each accepts is essentially the number of digits (i.e. level of precision) with which to convert the associated Number object before returning the new value.

In the event that the provided parameter is invalid (outside the bounds of what each method allows), a Invalid Precision error is produced.

For example, let’s start with the toExponential() method. Depending on the browser, this allows a value from about 0 to 100 at most. Thus, providing a value of 101 to this method should produce an Invalid Precision error:

Sure enough, we get an Invalid Precision error output, though the specific text varies between the browser engines, a seen below:

One important note is that, as mentioned, the allowed range of numeric values for each of these three methods varies based on the browser, as shown in the table below:

Method Firefox (SpiderMonkey) Chrome, Opera (V8)
toExponential() 0 to 100 0 to 20
toFixed() -20 to 100 0 to 20
toPrecision() 1 to 100 1 to 21

Therefore, changing our above example to use a precision value of 100 would be valid in Firefox, but considered invalid in Chrome or Opera.

We can also try the toFixed() method with the same precision value of 101 and expect an Invalid Precision error as well:

Sure enough, while Chrome acknowledges specifically which method we’re utilizing to produce the error, either way both browsers don’t like this:

This difference in error message formatting between browsers presents a small challenge when trying to correctly catch and identify an Invalid Precision error by properly differentiating it from other errors with the same parent RangeError object type. While we won’t go into the specifics of how to identify a user’s browser in JavaScript in this little guide, the best method will likely be to verify the browser via feature detection, then proceed to parse the appropriate error message based on the formatting for that browser engine.

These built-in exception classes are helpful JavaScript error handling tools! Used with Airbrake’s JavaScript Error Handler your debugging process will be a breeze. Good luck!