19: More than Just Functions - JSToElm
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19: More than Just Functions

The idea of functional programing is more than just the use of functions, or functions as first class citizens. It is a real paradigm shift in the way we think about tackling problems with code. A lot of what brings me, and others, to Elm is the desire to learn and even more importantly use techniques that FP puts forth in our daily programing. While trying to tackle static types, curring, partial application, and a bucket of other important concepts, it's the idea of FP that brought a lot of us here in the first place, less we forget it.


  • A function takes inputs and ALWAYS returns output

    • I have definitely NOT always done this.
    • Many cases where I’ve initWithId or initWithArray, that all return void. Ewwww
    • Part of this, is the idea that in order to help retrain my thinking. I need to do more functional thinking in my daily javascript
    • *
 + (void)initialize
        if(self == [WhateverClass class])
            ...perform initialization...

Procedural/Imperative programming

  • simply contain a series of computational steps to be carried out.
  • Any given procedure might be called at any point during a program’s execution, including by other procedures or itself.
  • declarative code communicates more effectively than imperative code. Don’t at me.
function meow(props) {
  var x = props[0],
    y = props[1],
    arr = props.slice(2);

function soup([x, y, ...args] = []) {
  //.. that's it??
meow([2, 4, 6]); //i guess I can figure out which is which
soup([1, 3, 5]); //shorter yeah, but really more concise, and less error prone
  • meow works really hard on the HOW all the parameters are assigned
  • soup uses deconstructing the hide the details how the parameters are assigned, left to focus on the WHAT we’re trying to do.


  • Undefined is the value returned implicitly if you have no return or if you just have an empty return
  • Holy moly!?!?!? really. Had no idea
  • We want to be explicit! Not sneaky

Side Effects

  • I think this is the winning feature of FP for me. So many times, I’ve been bitten by a function call that does this thing, and just happens to do this other thing too.
  • This goes hand in hand with immutability. The inablitiy to change the value of something implicitly.


  • unary: consisting of or involving a single component or element
  • idenity: function that returns the input
  • partial application
function unary(fn) {
  return function onlyOneArg(arg) {
    return fn(arg);

const _unary = fn => arg => fn(arg);

// ["1","2","3"].map( unary(parseInt) );
["1", "2", "3"].map(_unary(parseInt));

Why Functional

  • Why Functional Programming Matters by John Hughes

    • 2 Points:
    • Higher order functions
    • Lazy Loading

Final Thoughts

  • the complexity and cognitive overhead of your program grows exponentially as you add more local mutable state and side effects.

There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies.

C.A.R. Hoare, 1980 ACM Turing Award Lecture




Published 4 Jan 2018

A show about learning Elm, Functional Programing, and generally leveling up as a JS developer.
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