Off The Beaten Path: Elm

While attending a meetup in the Boulder, Colorado area (Fullstack Boulder Group on, I had a very interesting discussion with one of the attendees who worked at a local startup.  He introduced me to a programming language called Elm, which is relatively new from what I understand and popular among a small group of developers currently, but that could change in the future.

The most interesting feature he showed me (I’m sure there are many others) was the maybe keyword (see docs here).  This allows the programmer to indicate that an assigned value to a variable could be an expected data type or Nothing (in other words undefined).   This enables flexibility in the code without having to add conditionals to  check if a value or property is not defined.  It enables cleaner, shorter code which is always desirable.

Both of us wondered why a feature like this isn’t implemented in Javascript already, and also speculated that, perhaps in future versions, we might be able to enjoy implementing this flexible option for assigning variable and property values.

I really enjoyed my conversation about Elm and discovering a new and (for now) obscure and not widely used programming language.  If you are in the Denver/Boulder area, there is a meetup you can go to if you want to learn more about the language and hangout with a small, but passionate group of programmers who like the new language.  I love getting off the beaten path and exploring what else is out there, and this is a perfect example of some of the interesting things you can discover when you are open to new ideas and options.

In addition to opening my eyes to Elm, my new friend also turned me on to Reason, which is a new tool created by Facebook that allows programming in OCaml with a Javascript like syntax.  I don’t know much about it yet, but he was very enthusiastic about it and based on what he was able to show me about Elm, I suspect that if he is excited about Reason, then there is a good reason for it.  The fact that it is released by Facebook is noteworthy and it is something that I am going to be putting on my radar.

I love talking to interesting people who I can learn from and open my mind to new ideas.  I plan on continuing my exploration of Elm and look forward to learning more from and other users of the language.  I also look forward to continuing my exploration of the unknown (granted, mostly to me), and to boldly (or, at least eagerly with genuine curiosity) go where, perhaps, not a majority of other people have gone before.


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