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How To Solve The Unexpected Identifier Error in JavaScript

By James LePage
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Last updated on May 12th, 2022
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How much code do you write? Whether the answer is a few lines here and there or hundreds of lines each day, it is always easy to create small typos or other spelling-related mistakes in your code. With JavaScript being an interpreted language, any errors that may be caused by a spelling or syntactical mistake in your code will likely not be detected until runtime which could mean a frustrating bug in development or, in the worst case, a production bug. So, how do you resolve the Unexpected identifier error**?**

The Problem

As you might imagine from the intro to this article, the most likely cause of the Unexpected identifier error is a spelling mistake or typo in your code. Let’s look at a few examples:

Var foo = 'foo'; // ❌ var foo = 'foo'; // ✔️ constt fooBar = 'fooBar'; // ❌ const fooBar = 'fooBar'; // ✔️ leT bar = 'bar'; // ❌ let bar = 'bar'; // ✔️

Additionally, your error could be due to a syntax error such as a missing parentheses or curly brace:

const condition = true; if condition {} // ❌ if (condition) {} // ✔️

These may seem obvious here but it is still very easy to accidentally make mistakes like these in your code, so no shame if that is what brought you here!

The Solution

How do you fix this Unexpected identifier error in your code? The simplest thing you can do to find a specific error like this in your code is to use a tool such as this JavaScript Validator. It will look through your code and if it detects any errors it will tell you specifically where that error exists.

What about prevention? How could you avoid this error in the future?

The first thing to do here is to take a close look at your code and think about its formatting. It is a good practice to format your code in such a way that it is easy for you to read quickly. Code formatting is highly subjective: single vs double quotes, tabs vs spaces, semi-colon vs no semi-colon, etc. Each programmer, team, and company may have their own opinion on how code should look. At the end of the day, the important part is that you can read the code so try to find and stick to a format that works for you. Additionally, you can use tools such as Prettier which will help automatically format your code. Keeping your code formatted will make it easier to notice syntax errors before they become a problem.

Another tool you could employ is ESLint. This tool can help enforce code formatting rules (using the aforementioned Prettier if you so desire) as well as code conventions and style. More specifically, ESLint also has a spellcheck plugin which will do an even better job of picking up on any identifier issues in your code.

Conclusion

In this article you learned about what may cause the Unexpected identifier error and how to fix it. We also introduced a few helpful tools that you could use in your code. Combine all these tools and not only will you resolve your current Unexpected identifier error, but also you will hopefully prevent similar errors in the future. Thanks for reading!

The Isotropic Codex is a collection of code snippets and education for WordPress, web and WooCommerce developers.
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Article By
James LePage
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James LePage is the founder of Isotropic Design, a digital agency that builds WordPress websites. I read, write and design constantly!
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