JavaScript Error Handling – SyntaxError: missing } after property list

Today, as we move along through our JavaScript Error Handling series, we’ll be examining the Missing Brace After Property List JavaScript error. As the name implies, the Missing Brace After Property List error is another in the line of SyntaxErrors, which occurs specifically when initializing properties of an Object where the parser expects a closing brace (}) to appear.

Throughout this article we’ll take a closer look at the Missing Brace After Property List error, including where it resides within the JavaScript Exception hierarchy, along with some potential causes of a Missing Brace After Property List error, so let’s get going!

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 Brace After Property List error is a specific type of SyntaxError object.

When Should You Use It?

As with a handful of other SyntaxErrors we’ve explored in previous articles, the Missing Brace After Property List error is directly related to incorrect syntax when initializing Objects. Therefore, to explore this error in more detail, we should first take a moment to see how Object initialization syntax works in JavaScript.

First, it’s important to understand that JavaScript itself has only two types of entities: Primitives and Objects.

An Object is simply a collection of properties, used to programmatically represent a real world object. On the other hand, a Primitive represents a fundamental data type and is immutable, meaning its value cannot be changed.Primitive types include: string, number, boolean, null, undefined, and symbol.

To work with Objects and their underlying properties, your code will use the dot syntax:

// Get the title property of the book Object.

As for initialization, just as with Arrays and other collection types in JavaScript, there are a few different syntaxes that can be used to create an Object:

// Inline, without properties.
var bookA = {}; = 'Patrick Rothfuss';
bookA.title = 'The Name of the Wind';

// Inline, with properties.
var bookB = {
    author: 'Patrick Rothfuss',
    title: 'The Name of the Wind'

// Using new keyword constructor.
var bookC = new Object(bookB);

// Failed equivalence test.
console.log(bookA === bookB);

This produces the following output:

Object {author: "Patrick Rothfuss", title: "The Name of the Wind"}
Object {author: "Patrick Rothfuss", title: "The Name of the Wind"}
Object {author: "Patrick Rothfuss", title: "The Name of the Wind"}

The double-braces syntax is the most common when generating a new Object. In the first example above, we begin by initializing our Object, and only then do we assign a few properties to it. In the second example, we assign properties inline, using the property: value syntax. In the third example, we use the new Object() constructor, which accepts any value as its argument, and attempts to create an Object of the same Type of the passed argument. In this case, we passed in bookB to the new Object() constructor, so the call creates a new Object type of Object (as opposed to a String, Array, or what not), with the same properties as bookB.

The final line illustrates one last important point, which is that equivalence is not measured based on the property values of Objects, but instead upon their in-memory reference. Therefore, even if all properties of two Objectsare the same, if they don’t literally point to the same Object reference, they won’t be considered equivalent.

Now, with that basic understanding and syntax out of the way, we can take a look at how the Missing Brace After Property List error might come about. The most common cause is when initializing an Object using the inline syntax, with comma-separated property: value pairs, and forgetting to include a comma somewhere in the list:

// Missing comma between author and title properties.
var book = {
    author: 'Patrick Rothfuss'
    title: 'The Name of the Wind'

Interestingly, just as we saw with the Missing Bracket After Element List error, unique JavaScript engines evaluate the Missing Brace After Property List error in different ways. And, just as before, Chrome’s engine more accurately evaluates the problem and provides a better error message. In this case, the parser recognizes that we’re defining an Object due to the opening brace ({). It then looks for an appropriate symbol to follow the opening brace:

  • An identifier, such as: property_name.
  • A number such as: 5.
  • A string, such as: 'property_name'.
  • Or, a closing brace: }.

If the engine finds one of those following the opening brace, all is well and it continues. If it wasn’t a closing brace, it next looks for a colon delimiter (:). After the colon, it then expects any type of value, which will complete a single property: value pair.

Following a property: value pair, it expects one of two symbols:

  • A comma delimiter: ,.
  • Or, a closing brace: }.

The comma indicates another property is about to be listed, and the process repeats. Meanwhile, a closing brace indicates the list is complete.

With that in mind, we can see how Chrome behaves and reports the issue more accurately than Firefox in the example above. When the Chrome parser reaches the end of the first property: value pair of author: 'Patrick Rothfuss' it expects a comma or a closing brace. When it finds that the next symbol is a new identifier (title) instead, it produces an accurate error, informing us there was an Unexpected identifier.

Meanwhile, Firefox reaches that same point in parsing, but even though our syntax includes a closing brace, Firefox still reports the issue as a Missing Brace After Property List error.

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