Unlocking the power of functional frontend development with ELM

September 26, 2023

In the world of web development, staying ahead of the curve is a constant challenge. Web technologies come and go, and keeping up with the latest trends can sometimes feel like a daunting task. However, if you’re looking for a language that combines the best of both worlds – functional programming and frontend development – ELM might just be the answer.


In a recent presentation titled “ELM – FUNctional Language for Frontend” by Tomas Latal, we had the opportunity to explore the capabilities and advantages of using ELM in frontend web development. In this blog post, we’ll take a deeper dive into ELM and discover how it can revolutionize your approach to building web applications.


What is ELM?

Before we delve into the specifics, let’s briefly introduce ELM. ELM is a functional programming language designed for building web applications. It’s known for its simplicity, reliability, and robustness, making it an excellent choice for frontend development.


Functional Programming in ELM

One of the standout features of ELM is its functional programming paradigm. Functional programming is a coding style that treats computation as the evaluation of mathematical functions and avoids changing state and mutable data. ELM enforces this paradigm, which has several benefits:


Predictable Code

Functional code is more predictable and easier to reason about. ELM’s immutability ensures that once data is created, it cannot be modified, eliminating many common sources of bugs.


Pure Functions

ELM encourages the use of pure functions, which always produce the same output for the same input, making testing and debugging simpler.


No Side Effects

Functional programming minimizes side effects, such as changing global variables or manipulating the DOM directly, leading to cleaner and more maintainable code.


Live Coding with ELM

Tomas Latal’s presentation included a live coding demonstration, showcasing ELM’s capabilities. Here are some key takeaways from the presentation:

  • Declarative UI: ELM allows you to define your UI using a declarative syntax. This makes it easy to describe what your UI should look like based on the application’s state.
  • No CSS required: With ELM, you can achieve complex layouts and styling without the need for external CSS files. The language provides built-in tools for styling elements.
  • Functional approach to state: ELM simplifies state management by using a functional approach. Changes in the application’s state are handled through message passing, ensuring a clear and predictable flow of data.
  • Community and resources: ELM has a vibrant community and offers comprehensive documentation and tutorials. You can easily find support and resources to help you get started.


Why Choose ELM?

Now that we’ve explored some of ELM’s features and benefits, you might be wondering why you should choose it for your frontend projects. Here are a few compelling reasons:

  1. Reliability: ELM’s strong type system and immutability make it highly reliable. It helps catch errors at compile time, reducing runtime issues.
  2. Scalability: ELM’s architecture promotes scalability. It’s suitable for both small projects and large, complex applications.
  3. Community: The ELM community is supportive and active. You can find answers to your questions and collaborate with like-minded developers.



In a world where frontend development can often be complex and error-prone, ELM stands out as a refreshing alternative. Its functional programming approach, strong type system, and declarative syntax make it an excellent choice for building web applications. Tomas Latal’s presentation highlighted the power and simplicity of ELM, showing us that frontend development doesn’t have to be a headache.


If you’re looking to explore a new way of building web applications, consider giving ELM a try. With its reliability, scalability, and active community, you might just find that it’s the perfect tool for your next project. Embrace the functional revolution and unlock the full potential of frontend development with ELM.

Check out the Ada Beat Functional Programming blog for more topics, including functional programming principles, summaries of MeetUps, language specific articles, and much more. Whether you’re interested in functional programming theory or practical application, we have something for everyone.