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Trying to learn JavaScript. I was playing with the code and I'm a little confused about something seemingly simple. In the code below (from chap 5 random.js), when I comment out the line, var output = document.getElementById('output');, and save the file. When I refresh the browser window it still generates a random number. If I type "output" in the console I get <span id="output">. If I type "output.textContent" I get the random number. It seems as if this variable is not even needed. What is the reason for this?

function showNumbers() {
    'use strict';

    // Variable to store the lucky numbers:
    var numbers = '';

    // Get the numbers:
    for (var i = 0; i < 6; i++) {
        numbers += parseInt((Math.random() * 100), 10) + ' ';

    // Show the numbers:
    var output = document.getElementById('output');
    if (output.textContent !== undefined) {
        output.textContent = numbers;
    } else {
        output.innerText = numbers;

} // End of showNumbers() function.

// Initial setup:
window.onload = showNumbers;


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Hello, and welcome to the forums.


"output" works without declaring a variable because of a very bad idea originally implemented in IE and later spread to other browsers.

Here's more info about it:



In short, you should always use document.getElementById and a declared variable to grab a hold of and retain a DOM element.

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