JavaScript Error Handling

JavaScript Error Handling: SyntaxError: missing ) after argument list

Continuing through our JavaScript Error Handling series, today we’ll be looking closely at the Missing Parenthesis After Argument List JavaScript error. The Missing Parenthesis After Argument List error can occur for a variety of reasons, but like most SyntaxErrors, it commonly pops up when there’s a typo, an operator is missing, or a string is not escaped properly.

In this article we’ll examine the Missing Parenthesis After Argument List error in a bit more detail, including where it fits in the JavaScript Exception hierarchy, and what causes such errors to occur. Away we go!

The Technical Rundown

  • All JavaScript error objects are descendants of the Error object, or an inherited object therein.
  • The SyntaxError object is inherited from the Error object.
  • The Missing Parenthesis After Argument List error is a specific type of SyntaxError object.

When Should You Use It?

As mentioned in the introduction, the Missing Parenthesis After Argument List error can occur for a variety of reasons. Most of the time, the issue relates to a typo or a forgotten operator of some kind. To better illustrate this, we can just explore a few simple examples.

A very typical action in JavaScript is to concatenate multiple strings together to form one larger string. This can be performed using a simple + operator between two strings: console.log("Hello " + "world");

Or, you can also concatenate strings inline, using backtick () and bracket ({}) syntax: console.log(Hello ${worldVar}`);

Regardless of how it’s done, many JavaScript methods accept an indefinite number of arguments (such as strings), including the console.log() method. In the example below, notice what happens if we forget to include any form of concatenation for our two strings:

The result is that we immediately produce a Missing Parenthesis After Argument List error:

As you may notice, we passed two arguments to console.log(), but we did not separate them by a typical comma (,), nor did we concatenate our two string values together with one of the above methods. This causes JavaScript to parse our code just fine, until it reaches the end of the first string (is:") and moves onto the next argument (name). Since we didn’t tell it to concatenate, nor to expect another argument through the use of a comma separator, JavaScript expects that to be the end of our argument list to the console.log() method, and finds that our closing parenthesis is missing ()), thus throwing a Missing Parenthesis After Argument List error.

The solution depends on how we want our code to behave, but in this case because we’re passing arguments to console.log(), we can achieve concatenation directly, or by simply adding a comma separator. The comma separator is generally more readable for our purposes, so let’s go with that option:

This gives us our name output as expected:

A rather simple fix, to be sure, but that’s the issue with the Missing Parenthesis After Argument List error, and with SyntaxErrors in general. They’re all so obvious once discovered, but unless your code editor parses and evaluates your code for syntax errors on the fly, it’s often easy to miss them until your test out the code yourself.

It’s also worth noting that, like other SyntaxErrors, the Missing Parenthesis After Argument List error cannot be easily captured by the typical try-catch block. Since the problem is syntax, the JavaScript engine’s attempt to execute the problematic code fails out at that exact moment. This usually means that it doesn’t reach the point in execution where it can continue to the catch portion of the block, since it doesn’t know how to parse that correctly. This can be worked around by displacing execution through different files and layers, but for all basic intents and purposes, catching SyntaxErrors is a major challenge.

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