Introduction to Elm Programming- the Future of Front-End Development

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Elm

Communicating with machines is becoming easier with every passing year in a great variety of ways. With new languages coming up every year, the amount of such may even cross the languages used between humans. From the majoritarian presence of JavaScript across the web to the most beloved Rust and Python, numerous languages exist on the web and have their share of users.

These programming languages comprise a set of instructions designed to incur an output. They are used to create and modify algorithms in the systems.

With the advent of the digital age, the need for computers has become almost global, with rarely any nation immune to this evergreen trend. The world is bound to become highly reliant on technology unless a strong solar storm knocks out all the electronic products around the world of course!

The expansion of the system of computers is helping to give birth to new languages. One of them is named after a giant flowering plant from central Asia- Elm.

Elm hasn’t even seen a complete decade since its birth and still, it has gotten people viewing it with both skepticism and optimism as the future of front end development. The reasons for that are innumerable. Elm is a pure functional domain-specific language that generates HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It also has a static type checking and provides a complete solution for web developers and its tool-set.

A Little History Lesson

history book

Elm was initially developed by a functional programmer by the name of Evan Czaplicki. He intended to develop it for his thesis in 2012. When the language was released, it came with a lot of examples and an online editor which made it easy to try it out on web browsers. In 2013, Evan joined a Hungarian-based software company called Prezi. He was working on Elm during his time there and in 2016; he moved to NoRedInk as an open source engineer. That was also the year he founded the Elm Software Foundation.

The initial implementation of Elm compiler targeted JavaScript, HTML, and CSS with its core tools continuing to expand. They now include a time-traveling debugger, REPL, package manager, and installers for mac and windows. It has an ecosystem of libraries where the projects and works can be saved.

There are five main features of Elm that make it highly preferred for Elm users.

#1. Assistant compilers

While growing up, if you were addicted to the Disney animation series Recess, you might have heard about the fictional SAL 3000 that wreaked havoc on the fictitious 3rd street school. In case you haven’t, you can watch that episode right here. I mean in the beginning; it doesn’t feel that way, however, after some time you begin to feel how overwhelming this facet of the technology can be.

In a similar way, compilers that already suffer from a poor reputation can sometimes become overbearing to use. The function of a compiler is to detect bugs and generate fast codes. But it becomes highly exhaustive when you have to be berated by a robot. In short, it should make programming easier and fun. This marks the entry of Elm 0.16.

It offers the following features:
• Produces error messages that can be classified as an improvement from the traditional ones.
• Gets a hold of incomplete pattern matches
• Improves the code-textures of Elm.
• Enforces tail-call optimization

Most users have said that they prefer the error messages of Elm more than any other feature.

#2. Highly Optimized

fast

Elm is literally the fastest!

Even when compared to some of the big names in the programming language industry such as React and Angular, Elm beats them in terms of speed every single time!

When compared with React, it was discovered that React takes almost 50% more time to complete a similar task. Furthermore, it was also seen that Elm is fast without even being optimized. While even Angular and React even with hand-optimization cannot achieve speeds close to that.

#3. Much Smaller Assets

If you are an ardent user of JavaScript, chances are that you must have at least once given it a thought- “How do I get smaller assets with JavaScript”?

If you want to load pages faster, your asset size shouldn’t be too big. Elm 0.19 makes that desire now possible.

It is impressive to notice that the React Library (just the library) covers a space of 32kb, while the entire Elm RealWorld App is 29 kb. So, there is no way that can make React smaller compared to the Elm version.

The main cause of this achievement is the function-level dead code elimination which is basically the cutting down of the functions that aren’t used. For instance, if you use hundreds of functions, it gets reduced down to a handful that you actually use and it occurs throughout the ecosystem.

#4. Tired of JavaScript?

JavaScript Crawling

Often people use a huge number of tools and libraries to build a scalable JavaScript project. Although it is a reflection of the diversity of the ecosystem, it still becomes difficult to keep up with the new libraries being released every year. But it becomes hard to keep up with them and build larger and larger applications.

Elm offers you everything you need to build a scalable front-end in a single package.

#5. Package System

Elm can detect all API changes automatically thanks to its type system. We use that information to force everything in our package catalog to follow semantic versioning precisely. No more surprises in PATCH releases!”- As stated by the Elm Software Foundation.

One of the revolutionary changes that Elm offers is its enforcement of semantics versioning based on the changes to your package. It doesn’t allow for the minor version to be bumped. It, however, requires the major version to be a bump to publish. This is considered a powerful feature by many because there have been numerous incidents in the JavaScript space of package creators publishing new versions of a package which is a minor or a path but ends up breaking API contracts.

This usually leads to many issues later such as causing a refractor or having to change the codes that you never plan on altering.

Conclusion

chess conclusion

Overall, Elm has received a heap of thumbs up from people using it. Gizra, Futurice, and NoRedInk (also one of the first companies to embrace it) have been devout users of it ever since. PivotalTracker has been using it as well as laid out amazing feedback in regard to it.

So, if you are convinced that Elm will play a significant part in the future of front-end development, you can opt to learn Elm and pursue it as a career path. There are plenty of resources available on the web to learn about it. One of my personal recommendations would be the “Beginners Guide to Elm Programming Build Web Apps” online tutorial. If you are a beginner in Elm, you will gain profound insights into the course. The course comes with 5 hours of video and 11 sections. With practical examples, this course makes it one of the best resources to learn Elm. With many companies are now understanding the benefits of Elm, there is now an increasing demand for jobs with average salaries ranging from $50,000 to $101,000 per year.

If you found this article informative, we would love to hear your views on Elm. Let us know I you believe that Elm can play a vital part in the future of front-end development by commenting below.

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