# The Ternary Operator – The One-Line If

All posts in the series so far have either been about features of Roll20 or essential features of JavaScript. This post and the next one describe optional features. You don’t need to understand or use these features, but they are powerful or flexible, and have become so integral to JavaScript, you really need to know about them.

## An If Statement In One Line

The ternary operator is perhaps my favourite feature of javascript. Some don’t like it because they think it makes code look less readable, so it’s entirely down to personal taste.

You have to do something like this a lot:

``````const strength = parseInt(values.strength) || 0;
let carry = 0;
if (strength > 15) {
carry = (strength-15) * 20 + 150;
} else {
carry = strength * 10;
}```Code language: JavaScript (javascript)```

Your carrying capacity is 10lb per point of strength up to 15 and 20lb per point of strength above that. That calculation takes a lot of code and can be simplified to a single line using a ternary operator.

``````const strength = int(values.strength);
const carry = (strength > 15) ? ((strength-15) * 20 + 150) : (strength * 10);```Code language: JavaScript (javascript)```

That looks complicated, but the structure of a ternary operator is simple:

``````const result = (if statement) ? (value if truthy) : (value if falsy);
// or
let result = (if statement) ? (value if truthy) : (value if falsy);```Code language: JavaScript (javascript)```

The =, ?, and : are each very important – they split the code into sections.

• The result is a variable, and it can be defined with const or let as normal
• The if statement must produce a true or false result (actually truthy or falsy)
• If true, use the result after the ?
• If false, use the result after the :

So the ternary operation has a Condition, True, and False section.

If you want to calculate multiple values, or use the if statement for branching, use a normal if statement. But if you are setting a single value, ternary operators are very streamlined.

Each value of the ternary operator can itself be a separate expression or even function. You can even nest extra ternary operators inside each of the branches of the code above.

For example, let’s say your carry capacity is 50lb over str 20 as well, you could do this:

``````const strength = int(values.strength);
const carry = (strength > 20) ?
((strength - 20) * 50 + 250) :
(strength > 15) ? (strength-15) * 20 + 150) : (strength * 10);```Code language: JavaScript (javascript)```

When the code has too many branches, it can get too complex to read and at that point, it is better to use a standard if construction. You want your code to be easy to read later. In this case, that would look like this:

``````const strength = int(values.strength);
let carry = 0;
if (strength > 20) {
carry = (strength-20) * 50 + 250;
else if (strength > 15) {
carry = (strength-15) * 20 + 150;
} else {
carry = strength * 10;
}```Code language: JavaScript (javascript)```

You don’t need to use ternary operators. The if statement above works fine. Ternary operators are just a handy tool to use to make your code more compact.

The ternary operator is divided into sections by =, ? and :. All of these must be present. You cannot do this:

``const mod = (stat > 0) ? Math.floor(stat/2 -5);`Code language: JavaScript (javascript)`

This will trigger an error because there is no false result. This will work:

``const mod = (stat > 0) ? Math.floor(stat/2 -5) : -5;`Code language: JavaScript (javascript)`

Ternary operators are a great feature of JavaScript and can make your code a lot more compact.

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