How to Introduce Elm to a React Codebase

How to Introduce Elm to a React Codebase

Elm is a delightful language that helps make web applications more reliable by eliminating runtime exceptions. I find it extremely productive working with Elm, and would like to be able to use it in a JavaScript codebase without breaking the existing application or having to rewrite it altogether. However, it’s not obvious how to try out Elm in a small piece of the application, just enough to evaluate how well it works. This is what we will address in this article by exploring how to add a new feature to a React codebase with Elm.

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From JavaScript to Elm: A Blissful Journey

From JavaScript to Elm: A Blissful Journey

When building web applications with JavaScript, there are thousands of tools and frameworks to choose from. Most of these tools aim to make developing with JavaScript easier and more productive, and most of them help web developers achieve that. However, sometimes the language itself is the constraint. If you have built web applications in JavaScript, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced errors like Uncaught TypeError: Cannot read property 'x' of undefined that end up taking lots of time to debug. The language does not help you catch these errors early enough in the development cycle, and they usually end up being discovered too late, mostly by your users reporting that something is not working.

What if you could release your web app with the confidence that you would never get any runtime exceptions again? What if every time you needed to refactor code, you could do it confidently knowing you have a compiler that would let you know of any errors and suggestions on how to fix them? What if you could get all these benefits today, right now?

Welcome to the world of Elm.

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Taking the Writing Challenge

For the last 2 months or so, I have been meaning to write a blog post. I do not know the topic of the said post, or its content, or anything at all about it. I just know that I have to write something. I also know there’s a lot of valuable thoughts that I have in my mind that need to be put in words, but I cannot bring myself to put them in writing.

Writing simply terrifies me.

On the flip side, in about the same amount of time, I have been able to learn quite a lot of new stuff related to JavaScript programming, among them React, Jasmine, ES6 and much more. Surprisingly, when I have had to write code on these things and put it out there, I usually do it without a problem. Writing, on the other hand, has always felt like a nightmare.

So what can I do about it?

Chuck Palahniuk quote

So this is me officially putting out the challenge to myself, to venture out to where I fear most, to write more and more until I no longer fear it.

Have you been in a similar situation before, whether with writing or something else, that you know you need to do but it simply terrifies you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.