GJS Style Guide

This guide represents the official coding style of GJS and all official GNOME projects which utilize GJS.

The goal of this guide is to provide a flexible, balanced JavaScript syntax for all projects, GNOME or otherwise, which utilize our platform.

In an amazing, dynamic language like JavaScript, a correct style guide (and unit tests) are critical or your codebase rapidly becomes a spaghetti-code mess.

Rule List


While JavaScript allows omitting semicolons at the end of lines, we do not. Always end statements with a semicolon.

Variable naming

  • We use CamelCase variable names, with CamelCase for type names and lowerCamelCase for variable, property, and method names.
  • Private variables, whether object member variables or module-scoped variables, should begin with _.
  • Global variables (in the global or 'window' object) should be avoided whenever possible. If you do create them, the variable name should have a namespace.


  1. Always use CamelCase when importing modules and classes to distinguish them from other variables.

    const Lang = imports.lang;
  2. Use quick object syntax when importing multiple classes from one source.

    const { GLib, GObject } = imports.gi;
    const Lang = imports.lang;
  3. Always separate library imports from local imports.

    const { GLib, GObject } = imports.gi;
    const Lang = imports.lang;
    const LocalClass = imports.localClass;

Variable declaration

Always use one of const, let, or var when defining a variable. Always use let when block scope is intended; in particular, inside for() and while() loops, let or const is almost always correct.


var declares variables at the beginning of the closest function, module, or script, regardless of where the declaration occurs. var should be used with caution and typically only when you need to export a variable to other modules. Never use var in while or for loops.

const vs. let

const and let both ensure that variables are only accessible after they are declared in the code. const should always be used unless you absolutely need to change the variable value. This prevents bugs from accidental reassignments.


/* Iterating over any iterable object (Array, etc)
 * This is valid because the logic of this loop is:
 * { const prop = someobj[0]; ~your code~ }
 * { const prop = someobj[1]; ~your code~ }
for (const prop of someobj) {

// vs.

/* Using an actual counter which logically functions as...
 *  let i = 0;
 *  if (i < 10) ~your code~
 *  i++;
 *  if (i < 10) ~your code~
 *  i++;
for (let i = 0; i < 10; i++) {

If you don't use let/const then the variable is added to function scope, not the for loop block scope. See [What's new in JavaScript 1.7][1]

A common case where this matters is when you have a closure inside a loop:

for (const i = 0; i < 10; ++i) {
  mainloop.idle_add(() => {
    log(`Printing i: ${i}`);

If you used var instead of const it would print "10" numerous times.

GObject Properties


These rules only apply to GObject properties!

GJS provides numerous ways to access properties on GObject classes.we recommend using camelCase for getting properties and utilizing the provided setter function instead of setting the property directly.

  1. Use lowerCamelCase when getting or setting a simple property

    Getting a property value

    /* incorrect */
    let a = obj['property-name'];
    /* incorrect */
    let b = obj.property_name;
    /* correct */
    let c = obj.propertyName;

    Setting a property value

    /* incorrect */
    obj['property-name'] = 10;
    /* incorrect */
    obj.property_name = 10;
    /* correct */
    obj.propertyName = 10;
  2. Use the C setter function when setting a property that has side effects

    If setting the property causes change beyond simply changing the value, prefer the setter function for clarity.

    /* incorrect */
    obj['property-name-has-side-effects'] = 10;
    /* incorrect */
    obj.property_name_has_side_effects = 10;
    /* incorrect */
    obj.propertyNameHasSideEffects = 10;
    /* correct */

JavaScript Properties

Do not use JavaScript's getter and setter syntax if your code has side effects.

For example, the code foo.bar = 10; should not do anything other than set foo.bar to 10. If the setting has side effects use a setter method:

function setBar(value) {
  this._bar = value;

The same logic applies to getters.

In practice, this means getters are only used to make internal properties public or for creating static properties on the object.

class Demo {
    get bar() {
        return this._bar;

    /* and */

    static get bar() {
        return 'bar?';

const demo = new Demo();
let staticBar = Demo.bar;
let bar = demo.bar;

this in closures

this will not be captured in a closure; this is relative to how the closure is invoked, not to the value of this where the closure is created, because this is a keyword with a value passed in at function invocation time, it is not a variable that can be captured in closures.

To solve this, use arrow functions or Function.prototype.bind():

let closure = () => { 
// or
let closure = function() { 

An example of this would be connecting to a signal on a GObject:

const { Gtk } = imports.gi;

const button = new Gtk.Button({ label: 'Click Me!' });
button.connect('clicked', () => {
  /* do something */

Object literal syntax

JavaScript allows equivalently:

foo = { 'bar' : 42 };
foo = { bar: 42 };


var b = foo['bar'];
var b = foo.bar;

If your usage of an object is like an object, then you're defining "member variables." For member variables, use the no-quotes no-brackets syntax, that is, { bar: 42 } and foo.bar.

If your usage of an object is like a hash table (and thus conceptually the keys can have special chars in them), don't use quotes, but use brackets, { bar: 42 }, foo['bar'].


General Rules

  • 4-space indentation (the Java style)
  • No trailing whitespace.
  • No tabs.

No whitespace when calling a function.

eslint: func-call-spacing

/* very incorrect */

/* incorrect */
fn ();

/* perfect */

No spaces between brackets and elements.

eslint: array-bracket-spacing

/* incorrect */
let arr = [ 1, 2, 3 ];

/* correct */
let arr = [1, 2, 3];

Spacing in a function signature.

eslint: space-before-function-paren, space-before-blocks

Enforce spacing between keys and values in object literal properties.

eslint: key-spacing

/* incorrect */
const objA = { foo:42 };
const objB = { foo : 42 };
const objC = { foo :42 };

/* correct */
var obj = { foo: 42 };

/* incorrect */
const a = function (){};
const b = function (){};
const c = function(){};

/* correct */
const d = function() {};
const e = function a() {};

/* incorrect */
const arr = [ 1, 2, 3 ];
log(arr[ 0 ]);

/* correct */
const foo = [1, 2, 3];

Use spaces inside curly braces.

eslint: object-curly-spacing

/* incorrect*
const foo = {clark: 'kent'};

/* correct */
const foo = { clark: 'kent' };