js How do I include a JavaScript file in another JavaScript file?



15 Answers

If anyone is looking for something more advanced, try out RequireJS. You'll get added benefits such as dependency management, better concurrency, and avoid duplication (that is, retrieving a script more than once).

You can write your JavaScript files in "modules" and then reference them as dependencies in other scripts. Or you can use RequireJS as a simple "go get this script" solution.

Example:

Define dependencies as modules:

some-dependency.js

define(['lib/dependency1', 'lib/dependency2'], function (d1, d2) {

     //Your actual script goes here.   
     //The dependent scripts will be fetched if necessary.

     return libraryObject;  //For example, jQuery object
});

implementation.js is your "main" JavaScript file that depends on some-dependency.js

require(['some-dependency'], function(dependency) {

    //Your script goes here
    //some-dependency.js is fetched.   
    //Then your script is executed
});

Excerpt from the GitHub README:

RequireJS loads plain JavaScript files as well as more defined modules. It is optimized for in-browser use, including in a Web Worker, but it can be used in other JavaScript environments, like Rhino and Node. It implements the Asynchronous Module API.

RequireJS uses plain script tags to load modules/files, so it should allow for easy debugging. It can be used simply to load existing JavaScript files, so you can add it to your existing project without having to re-write your JavaScript files.

...

javascript include external js

Is there something in JavaScript similar to @import in CSS that allows you to include a JavaScript file inside another JavaScript file?




Another way, that in my opinion is much cleaner, is to make a synchronous Ajax request instead of using a <script> tag. Which is also how Node.js handles includes.

Here's an example using jQuery:

function require(script) {
    $.ajax({
        url: script,
        dataType: "script",
        async: false,           // <-- This is the key
        success: function () {
            // all good...
        },
        error: function () {
            throw new Error("Could not load script " + script);
        }
    });
}

You can then use it in your code as you'd usually use an include:

require("/scripts/subscript.js");

And be able to call a function from the required script in the next line:

subscript.doSomethingCool(); 



It is possible to dynamically generate a JavaScript tag and append it to HTML document from inside other JavaScript code. This will load targeted JavaScript file.

function includeJs(jsFilePath) {
    var js = document.createElement("script");

    js.type = "text/javascript";
    js.src = jsFilePath;

    document.body.appendChild(js);
}

includeJs("/path/to/some/file.js");



Maybe you can use this function that I found on this page How do I include a JavaScript file in a JavaScript file?:

function include(filename)
{
    var head = document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0];

    var script = document.createElement('script');
    script.src = filename;
    script.type = 'text/javascript';

    head.appendChild(script)
}



I just wrote this JavaScript code (using Prototype for DOM manipulation):

var require = (function() {
    var _required = {};
    return (function(url, callback) {
        if (typeof url == 'object') {
            // We've (hopefully) got an array: time to chain!
            if (url.length > 1) {
                // Load the nth file as soon as everything up to the
                // n-1th one is done.
                require(url.slice(0, url.length - 1), function() {
                    require(url[url.length - 1], callback);
                });
            } else if (url.length == 1) {
                require(url[0], callback);
            }
            return;
        }
        if (typeof _required[url] == 'undefined') {
            // Haven't loaded this URL yet; gogogo!
            _required[url] = [];

            var script = new Element('script', {
                src: url,
                type: 'text/javascript'
            });
            script.observe('load', function() {
                console.log("script " + url + " loaded.");
                _required[url].each(function(cb) {
                    cb.call(); // TODO: does this execute in the right context?
                });
                _required[url] = true;
            });

            $$('head')[0].insert(script);
        } else if (typeof _required[url] == 'boolean') {
            // We already loaded the thing, so go ahead.
            if (callback) {
                callback.call();
            }
            return;
        }

        if (callback) {
            _required[url].push(callback);
        }
    });
})();

Usage:

<script src="prototype.js"></script>
<script src="require.js"></script>
<script>
    require(['foo.js','bar.js'], function () {
        /* Use foo.js and bar.js here */
    });
</script>

Gist: http://gist.github.com/284442.




If you want in pure JavaScript, you can use document.write.

document.write('<script src="myscript.js" type="text/javascript"></script>');

If you use the jQuery library, you can use the $.getScript method.

$.getScript("another_script.js");



You can also assemble your scripts using PHP:

File main.js.php:

<?php
    header('Content-type:text/javascript; charset=utf-8');
    include_once("foo.js.php");
    include_once("bar.js.php");
?>

// Main JavaScript code goes here



This should do:

xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();
xhr.open("GET", "/soap/ajax/11.0/connection.js", false);
xhr.send();
eval(xhr.responseText);



In case you are using Web Workers and want to include additional scripts in the scope of the worker, the other answers provided about adding scripts to the head tag, etc. will not work for you.

Fortunately, Web Workers have their own importScripts function which is a global function in the scope of the Web Worker, native to the browser itself as it is part of the specification.

Alternatively, as the second highest voted answer to your question highlights, RequireJS can also handle including scripts inside a Web Worker (likely calling importScripts itself, but with a few other useful features).




The @import syntax for achieving CSS-like JavaScript importing is possible using a tool such as Mixture via their special .mix file type (see here). I imagine the application simply uses one of the aforementioned methods interally, though I don't know.

From the Mixture documentation on .mix files:

Mix files are simply .js or .css files with .mix. in the file name. A mix file simply extends the functionality of a normal style or script file and allows you to import and combine.

Here's an example .mix file that combines multiple .js files into one:

// scripts-global.mix.js
// Plugins - Global

@import "global-plugins/headroom.js";
@import "global-plugins/retina-1.1.0.js";
@import "global-plugins/isotope.js";
@import "global-plugins/jquery.fitvids.js";

Mixture outputs this as scripts-global.js and also as a minified version (scripts-global.min.js).

Note: I'm not in any way affiliated with Mixture, other than using it as a front-end development tool. I came across this question upon seeing a .mix JavaScript file in action (in one of the Mixture boilerplates) and being a bit confused by it ("you can do this?" I thought to myself). Then I realized that it was an application-specific file type (somewhat disappointing, agreed). Nevertheless, figured the knowledge might be helpful for others.

UPDATE: Mixture is now free (offline).

UPDATE: Mixture is now discontinued. Old mixture releases are still available




My usual method is:

var require = function (src, cb) {
    cb = cb || function () {};

    var newScriptTag = document.createElement('script'),
        firstScriptTag = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0];
    newScriptTag.src = src;
    newScriptTag.async = true;
    newScriptTag.onload = newScriptTag.onreadystatechange = function () {
        (!this.readyState || this.readyState === 'loaded' || this.readyState === 'complete') && (cb());
    };
    firstScriptTag.parentNode.insertBefore(newScriptTag, firstScriptTag);
}

It works great and uses no page-reloads for me. I've tried the AJAX method (one of the other answers) but it doesn't seem to work as nicely for me.

Here's an explanation of how the code works for those that are curious: essentially, it creates a new script tag (after the first one) of the URL. It sets it to asynchronous mode so it doesn't block the rest of the code, but calls a callback when the readyState (the state of the content to be loaded) changes to 'loaded'.




In modern language it would be

function loadJs( url ){
  return new Promise( resolve => {
    const script = document.createElement( "script" );
    script.src = url;
    script.onload = resolve;
    document.head.appendChild( script );
  });
}



There is also Head.js. It is very easy to deal with:

head.load("js/jquery.min.js",
          "js/jquery.someplugin.js",
          "js/jquery.someplugin.css", function() {
  alert("Everything is ok!");
});

As you see, it's easier than Require.js and as convenient as jQuery's $.getScript method. It also has some advanced features, like conditional loading, feature detection and much more.




There are a lot of potential answers for this question. My answer is obviously based on a number of them. This is what I ended up with after reading through all the answers.

The problem with $.getScript and really any other solution that requires a callback when loading is complete is that if you have multiple files that use it and depend on each other you no longer have a way to know when all scripts have been loaded (once they are nested in multiple files).

Example:

file3.js

var f3obj = "file3";

// Define other stuff

file2.js:

var f2obj = "file2";
$.getScript("file3.js", function(){

    alert(f3obj);

    // Use anything defined in file3.
});

file1.js:

$.getScript("file2.js", function(){
    alert(f3obj); //This will probably fail because file3 is only guaranteed to have loaded inside the callback in file2.
    alert(f2obj);

    // Use anything defined in the loaded script...
});

You are right when you say that you could specify Ajax to run synchronously or use XMLHttpRequest, but the current trend appears to be to deprecate synchronous requests, so you may not get full browser support now or in the future.

You could try to use $.when to check an array of deferred objects, but now you are doing this in every file and file2 will be considered loaded as soon as the $.when is executed not when the callback is executed, so file1 still continues execution before file3 is loaded. This really still has the same problem.

I decided to go backwards instead of forwards. Thank you document.writeln. I know it's taboo, but as long as it is used correctly this works well. You end up with code that can be debugged easily, shows in the DOM correctly and can ensure the order the dependencies are loaded correctly.

You can of course use $ ("body").append(), but then you can no longer debug correctly any more.

NOTE: You must use this only while the page is loading, otherwise you get a blank screen. In other words, always place this before / outside of document.ready. I have not tested using this after the page is loaded in a click event or anything like that, but I am pretty sure it'll fail.

I liked the idea of extending jQuery, but obviously you don't need to.

Before calling document.writeln, it checks to make sure the script has not already been loading by evaluating all the script elements.

I assume that a script is not fully executed until its document.ready event has been executed. (I know using document.ready is not required, but many people use it, and handling this is a safeguard.)

When the additional files are loaded the document.ready callbacks will get executed in the wrong order. To address this when a script is actually loaded, the script that imported it is re-imported itself and execution halted. This causes the originating file to now have its document.ready callback executed after any from any scripts that it imports.

Instead of this approach you could attempt to modify the jQuery readyList, but this seemed like a worse solution.

Solution:

$.extend(true,
{
    import_js : function(scriptpath, reAddLast)
    {
        if (typeof reAddLast === "undefined" || reAddLast === null)
        {
            reAddLast = true; // Default this value to true. It is not used by the end user, only to facilitate recursion correctly.
        }

        var found = false;
        if (reAddLast == true) // If we are re-adding the originating script we do not care if it has already been added.
        {
            found = $('script').filter(function () {
                return ($(this).attr('src') == scriptpath);
            }).length != 0; // jQuery to check if the script already exists. (replace it with straight JavaScript if you don't like jQuery.
        }

        if (found == false) {

            var callingScriptPath = $('script').last().attr("src"); // Get the script that is currently loading. Again this creates a limitation where this should not be used in a button, and only before document.ready.

            document.writeln("<script type='text/javascript' src='" + scriptpath + "'></script>"); // Add the script to the document using writeln

            if (reAddLast)
            {
                $.import_js(callingScriptPath, false); // Call itself with the originating script to fix the order.
                throw 'Readding script to correct order: ' + scriptpath + ' < ' + callingScriptPath; // This halts execution of the originating script since it is getting reloaded. If you put a try / catch around the call to $.import_js you results will vary.
            }
            return true;
        }
        return false;
    }
});

Usage:

File3:

var f3obj = "file3";

// Define other stuff
$(function(){
    f3obj = "file3docready";
});

File2:

$.import_js('js/file3.js');
var f2obj = "file2";
$(function(){
    f2obj = "file2docready";
});

File1:

$.import_js('js/file2.js');

// Use objects from file2 or file3
alert(f3obj); // "file3"
alert(f2obj); // "file2"

$(function(){
    // Use objects from file2 or file3 some more.
    alert(f3obj); //"file3docready"
    alert(f2obj); //"file2docready"
});



Better use the jQuery way. To delay the ready event, first call $.holdReady(true). Example (source):

$.holdReady(true);
$.getScript("myplugin.js", function() {
    $.holdReady(false);
});



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