Javascript idioms

From Zoltan Kochan, author of pnpm


Double exclamation

Prefixing anything with !! converts it to a boolean.

var foo = 0
//> false

Essentially it is a shorter way to write Boolean(foo).

Converting arguments to array

The arguments object can be used to access the arguments passed to the function. However, it is not an Array so it doesn’t have Array properties except length. The idiom is used very frequently to convert the argument’s object to an actual array.

(function() {
  console.log(arguments instanceof Array)
  //> false

  var args =
  console.log(args instanceof Array)
  //> true

Assigning default values

function foo(opts) {
  var msg = opts.message || 'Hello world!'

// instead of
function foo(opts) {
  var msg = opts.message ? opts.message : 'Hello world!'

More examples of interesting || and && usages can be found in the 12 Simple (Yet Powerful) JavaScript Tips article.

Converting to array if not already

var totallyArray = [].concat(value)

//instead of
var totallyArray = value instanceof Array ? value : [value]

Converting strings to number

var foo = +'12.2'
var bar = +'12'

// instead of
var foo = parseFloat('12.2')
var bar = parseInt('12')

Checking if an array includes an element

if (~[1, 2, 3].indexOf(2)) { console.log('includes') }

// instead of
if ([1, 2, 3].indexOf(2) > -1) { console.log('includes') }

There are some other usage examples for the tilde operator as well in The Great Mystery of the Tilde(~).

Writing multi-line strings

var multiStr = [
  "This is the first line",
  "This is the second line",
  "This is more..."

// instead of
var multiStr = "This is the first line\n" +
  "This is the second line\n" +
  "This is more...";

Looping through an array

It can be used if order is not important

for (var i = arr.length; i--;) {
  // ...

// instead of
for (var i = 0; i < arr.length; i++) {
  // ...

setTimeout(func, 0)

JavaScript code runs on one thread. Calling setTimeout with 0 allows to schedule a function to run after the current event loop tick.

setTimeout(function() {
  console.log('log message from next tick')
}, 0)

console.log('Hello world!')
//> Hello world!
//> log message from next tick

Building a web application with Thing+ platform

These days buzzwords get thrown around a lot about the “4th industrial revolution”. While it’s simply a collection of upcoming technology to make our lives easier, the barrier of entry to new tech is always high.

Thing+ platform was developed as a way to lower that barrier, it’s a Platform as a service that provide you with ready-made embedded software for Internet of
Things devices and a web service that manages those devices.

This post is a starter’s guide to building a web application that use Thing+ from scratch. It’s assumed the reader is somewhat familiar with IoT terminologies, and have a basic grasp of programming.


Starting the repository

  • Name your app, let’s say thingplus-webapp
  • npm install express-generator -g
  • express --view=pug thingplus-webapp
  • cd thingplus-webapp
  • git init
  • vi .gitignore, paste the following
# Logs

# Runtime data

# Directory for instrumented libs generated by jscoverage/JSCover

# Coverage directory used by tools like istanbul

# nyc test coverage

# Grunt intermediate storage (

# Bower dependency directory (

# node-waf configuration

# Compiled binary addons (

# Dependency directories

# Typescript v1 declaration files

# Optional npm cache directory

# Optional eslint cache

# Optional REPL history

# Output of 'npm pack'

# Yarn Integrity file

# dotenv environment variables file
  • npm install

Register, login

Registration page

We don’t need to involve ourself in user management since we can use user information from Thing+ Let’s create a register
link first, add this line to app.js

app.use('/register', require('./routes/register'));

 Add register.js to the routes folder with the following content

'use strict';
const auth = require('../auth');
const express = require('express');
const router = express.Router();

/* GET register page */
router.get('/', function (req, res) {

module.exports = router;

This simply create a new page that will redirect to Thing+’s sign up page Let’s link to it from the index page, modify index.pug
to the layout folder

extends layout

block content
    if user
      p Welcome, #{user.fullName}
        a.btn.btn-primary(role="button", href="/gateways") Manage gateways
        a.btn.btn-primary(role="button", href="/rules") Manage rules
        a.btn.btn-primary(role="button", href="/trains") Manage trains
        a.btn.btn-primary(role="button", href="/logout") Logout
      p Welcome to #{appName}, ready to get started?
        a.btn.btn-primary(role="button", href="/login") Login now
      p Don't have an account?
        a.btn.btn-primary(href="/register") Register now

This will show various internal commands if you are logged in, and show the register link if you are not logged in.

Login and callback route

Add the following files to the routes folder
  • Login.js
'use strict';
const auth = require('../auth');
const querystring = require('querystring');

const express = require('express');
const session = require('../session');
const router = express.Router();


/* GET login page */
router.get('/', function (req, res, next) {
 if (req.session && req.session.token) {
 } else {
 auth.thingPlus.authorizationUri + '?' +
 client_id: auth.thingPlus.clientId,
 response_type: 'code',
 redirect_uri: auth.thingPlus.redirectUri(

module.exports = router;
  • Callback.js
        'use strict';
        const auth = require('../auth');
        const express = require('express');
        const http = require('https');
        const request = require('request');
        const session = require('../session');
        const router = express.Router();
        function saveUserName(token, req, res) {
            var options = {
                url: auth.thingPlus.userUri,
                auth: {
                    bearer: req.session.token
            request.get(options, function(error, mesage, body) {
                req.session.userName =;
        /* GET callback page */
        router.get('/', function (req, response) {
            var options = {
                'method': 'POST',
                'hostname': auth.thingPlus.apiHost,
                'port': null,
                'path': auth.thingPlus.accessTokenUri,
                'headers': {
                    'content-type': 'application/json'
            var postRequest = http.request(options, function (res) {
                var chunks = [];
                res.on('data', function (chunk) {
                res.on('end', function () {
                    var body = Buffer.concat(chunks).toString();
                    var json = JSON.parse(body);
                    req.session.token = json.access_token;
                    saveUserName(req.session.token, req, response);
                    // response.redirect('/');
                code: req.query.code,
                client_id: auth.thingPlus.clientId,
                client_secret: auth.thingPlus.clientSecret,
                redirect_uri: auth.thingPlus.redirectUri(,
                grant_type: 'authorization_code'
        module.exports = router;
  • Auth.js
            'use strict';
            const apiHost = '';
            const baseUri = 'https://' + apiHost + '/v2/';
            module.exports = {
                thingPlus: {
                    clientId: process.env.CLIENT_ID,
                    clientSecret: process.env.CLIENT_SECRET,
                    apiHost: apiHost,
                    accessTokenUri: '/v2/oauth2/token',
                    redirectUri: function (appAddress) {
                        return 'http://' + appAddress + '/callback';
                    baseUri: baseUri,
                    authorizationUri: baseUri + 'oauth2/authorize',        
                    gatewaysUri: baseUri + 'gateways',
                    userUri: baseUri + 'users/me',
                    signupUri: '',
                    scopes: [
 What does it do?
  • auth.js contains the address of Thing+ API
  • login.js uses Thing+’s login page, and redirects to callback.js after you are logged in
  • callback.js extracts the token from Thing+ and use it for your subsequent requests


Grab your jetpacks, we are going to work with Postman next

Register client ID and secret key

This step prepares your application for OAuth. This step does not involve user credentials, all credentials mentioned
are specific for your application. Normally you should only do this ONCE per application, unless
your application require complex ACL and roles management

  1. Open Chrome browser then Sign in to the Thing+ Portal

  1. Launch Postman
  2. Enable interceptor

  1. Install interceptor

  1. Getting a Client ID and Secret

  • Select Getting a client ID and secret on the collection
  • Select the Body tab
  • Select raw
  • Put your OAuth client ID in the reqId field. This should be unique across all applications connected
    to Thing+
  • Put your OAuth client secret in the clientSecret field. These two fields should not be exposed to anyone.
    Keep it secret
  • Put the name of your applicaiton into the name field. This is used to identify your application. You
    should put either your company or service name
  • Change the field scopes to determine the rights for your application. Read more about acceptable scopes
  • Click the Send button
  1. Result should display 201 Created

  1. Disable interceptor

Get OAuth Access token

This step authorizes the user with Thing+ via your application

An Access token Expires in 15 days. This may be changed later without prior notification. Please check back often

  1. Prepare login page for your application
  2. When the user logins, redirect them to this URL{CLIENT_ID}&redirect_uri={REDIRECT_URI}
  • Replace {CLIENT_ID} with Thing+ OAuth Client ID to received at Step 1-4
  • Replace {REDIRECT_URI} with your callback URL. This URL should we able to take a ‘code’ parameter. For
    example http://yoururl/?code={AUTHORIZATION_CODE}

  1. User should click the ‘Allow’ button
  2. Thing+ will redirectsback to your {REDIRECT_URI} with the “code” in query string 
  3. Exchange code for an OAuth Access token

This step should be automated in your code, the method below is for demonstration purpose only

  • Select Exchange code for an OAuth Access token from the collection
  • Select Body tab
  • Select x-www-form-urlencoded
  • Add {AUTHORIZATION_CODE} you received from the last step to code field
  • Fill in the client ID for your appliction in client_id
  • Fill in the client secret for your application in client_secret
  • Fill in the redirect URL. This URL should be the same with the redirect URL from step 2
  • Click the ‘Send’ button
  1. Result should say “200 OK” and provide you with an access_token

Use authorisation in your app

When you are sending requests to Thing+ API, be sure to include the token you acquired from step 2 into the header with

Authorization: Bearer {AccessToken}

Putting it all together

You can now open your app, and click register or login, you’ll see a different page according to your login status.

Congratulations, you have succeeded in using Thing+’s authorisation mechanism and called some of its API.

What’s next

Add a virtual (or real) gateway, read more about the API, and try some of it.


Once you are comfortable with that, go ahead and create some rules.

You can refer to a ready-made application in this repository: thingplus-webapp

Have fun IoT-ing!