Sometimes in a web app, you'll want to load a script externally. The only problem is if you need to reference something within the external library, which you should only do once it's definitely loaded.

Here's a tip that works with all browsers to ensure the script is loaded before running your dependant code.

Here's the JavaScript code to load the external library with a callback passed in:

function loadExtScript(src, callback) {
  var s = document.createElement('script');
  s.src = src;

  // if the callback
Firefox allows you to listen for the onload event on the script element:
s.onload = callback;
With Internet Explorer you can wait for a state change on the script element:
s.onreadystatechange = function() {
  if ( this.readyState != "loaded" ) return;;
The problem comes with Safari - there's no event change for Safari, so we can't tell when the script has loaded. This is the solution I came up with (and this solution should also work with Opera):
function loadExtScript(src, test, callback) {
  var s = document.createElement('script');
  s.src = src;

  var callbackTimer = setInterval(function() {
    var call = false;
    try {
      call =;
    } catch (e) {}

    if (call) {
  }, 100);
The function takes a test as a parameter. Since you are the designer of the app, you'll know what successful test is. Once this test is true, it will execute the callback. A simple test could be to check whether a function exists, for example:
loadExtScript('/fixpng.js', function() {
  return (typeof fixpng == 'function');
}, myCallbackFunction);

Want more?

Posts, web development learnings & insights, exclusive workshop and training discounts and more, direct to your inbox.