Elm, Functional Front-end Development and Why You Should Care
A few months ago I learned of Elm, which claims to be “the best of functional programming in your browser”. After inhaling the documentation and watching a few videos and talks, I started tinkering myself and quickly fell in love with Elm and the feeling it gives me when writing code in it.
The last time I felt this excitement of working with something radically new was when I learned Rails – almost ten years ago. Back then one could feel that Rails would be a big shift, because it was a coherent package that bundled up web dev learnings, best practices, and some very nice ideas for its future development. Right now this is happening again with Elm, so let us have a look at what is exciting me …
Functional is becoming a trend in front-end development
Statically typed, no more runtime errors.
The Elm syntax might look odd at first – nevertheless it is very clear and does not take much time to get used to, in my experience.
module Main (..) where import Html exposing (text, div, p, ul, li) import Html.Attributes exposing (class) feature description = li [ class "feature" ] [ text description ] main = div [ class "welcome" ] [ p [ class "message" ] [ text "Elm is great, here's why …" ] , ul [ class "features" ] [ feature "It has a fast compiler with helpful error messages" , feature "Great performance due to immutability and pure functions" , feature "No more runtime exceptions!" ] ]
Elms standard library is relatively small compared to other languages, but rather than the syntax and core modules, it’s the concepts which need to be learned and understood. Amongst others, these are the Elm architecture, immutability and purity, as well as modelling problems the Elm way.
Elm is on the rise and it’s already being used in production. It makes front-end developers around the globe happy and my bet is that we will hear more and more about Elm in 2016. So why not get started by diving into Elm yourself?
The following resources are a good starting point for diving into Elm, taking your own first steps and getting as excited as I am:
- Elm: Building Reactive Web Apps - a great introductory video course by the Pragmatic Studios. In about three hours you get to know about the core concepts and the Elm architecture by building a small app.
- Let’s be mainstream! User focused design in Elm - a talk by Evan Czaplicki, the creator of Elm, explaining the motivation behind developing a new functional programing language for the front-end. The talk also highlights the concepts, some features, and ideas as well as the reasoning for those.
- Elm - functional front-end development – my own series of articles about Elm in which you will learn about the language fundamentals as well as some advanced topics.
- The Changelog #191
- The Changelog #218
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