Prototypes vs. Classes in JavaScript

Prototypes vs. Classes in JavaScript

In the vast and dynamic world of JavaScript, two fundamental concepts that every developer must grasp are 'Prototypes' and 'Classes'. These two concepts, although seemingly similar, are actually quite different in their usage, functionality, and implementation. In this detailed and comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the nuances of both Prototypes and Classes in JavaScript. This blog post is designed with beginner to intermediate developers on codedamn in mind, aiming to provide a clear understanding of these concepts, coupled with practical code examples for better context.

Deep Dive into Prototypes in JavaScript

To begin with, let's first understand what a Prototype is in JavaScript. In simple terms, every object in JavaScript has a prototype, and this prototype is also an object itself. All objects inherit properties and methods from their prototype, a feature known as Prototypal Inheritance. This is what makes JavaScript a prototype-based language.

For instance, let's consider an example where we have an animal object with a property eats set to true.

let animal = { eats: true };

Now, we create another object rabbit and set its prototype to animal using __proto__.

let rabbit = { jumps: true, __proto__: animal };

If we inspect the rabbit object, we notice that it can access the properties of the animal object, even though they are not directly defined in rabbit.

console.log(rabbit.eats); // true console.log(rabbit.jumps); // true

This implies that our rabbit has inherited behaviours from the animal through the prototype.

Thorough Understanding of Classes in JavaScript

On the flip side, a class in JavaScript is essentially a type of function. However, instead of using the keyword function to initiate it, we use the keyword class. This class serves as a blueprint for creating objects, encapsulating data for the object.

For instance, let's create a class Animal. This class has a constructor that accepts a parameter 'name' and a method speak().

class Animal { constructor(name) { = name; } speak() { console.log(`${} makes a noise.`); } }

We can create a new class Dog that extends Animal. The Dog class redefines the speak method.

class Dog extends Animal { speak() { console.log(`${} barks.`); } }

Now, let's create an instance of Dog and call the speak method.

let d = new Dog('Mitzie'); d.speak(); // Mitzie barks.

This shows that our Dog class has inherited properties and methods from the Animal class, and also overrode the speak method.

Comparing Prototypes and Classes

Now that we have a solid understanding of both Prototypes and Classes in JavaScript, let's compare them on several fronts.

Syntax and Structure

Firstly, the syntax and structure of prototypes and classes differ significantly. Prototypes do not have a predefined structure – you can add or modify properties and methods on the fly. On the other hand, classes in JavaScript use the class keyword and have a clear, structured syntax.


Inheritance in classes is achieved through the extends keyword, while in prototypes, it's done through linking an object to another object. This difference highlights the flexibility of prototypes and the structured approach of classes.

Method Overriding

In prototypes, a method in an object can be overridden by defining a method with the same name in its prototype. In classes, method overriding is done inside the subclass, providing a clear view of what methods are being overridden.


1. Is JavaScript a class-based or prototype-based language?

JavaScript is fundamentally a prototype-based language, but with the introduction of ES6, it now also supports class-based programming.

2. Can I use both prototypes and classes in a JavaScript project?

Yes, you can use both in a project, but it's recommended to stick with one style for consistency.

3. Is it better to use prototypes or classes in JavaScript?

It depends on the specific use case. However, classes might offer a cleaner and more organized syntax, especially for developers coming from a class-based language background like Java or C++.

In conclusion, both prototypes and classes have their own advantages and uses in JavaScript. Prototypes offer more flexibility and control, while classes provide a more structured and organized approach. A good JavaScript developer should be comfortable with both and able to decide when to use which based on the requirements of the project.

For further reading, you can check out the official MDN Web Docs on JavaScript where you'll find extensive information on both prototypes and classes, among other topics.

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