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Functional Javascript

Functional JavaScript — Monads

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JavaScript is partly a functional language.

To learn JavaScript, we got to learn the functional parts of JavaScript.

In this article, we’ll look at how to pipe functions and functors with JavaScript.

MayBe Functors

A MayBe functor is one that lets us implement a map function in a different way.

We start off by creating a constructor that stores a value:

const MayBe = function(val) {
  this.value = val;
}

MayBe.of = function(val) {
  return new MayBe(val);
}

Then we add the methods unique to the MayBe functor.

We have the isNothing method to check if this.value has anything.

The map method will return something different depending on whether this.value has something or not.

We add:

MayBe.prototype.isNothing = function() {
  return (this.value === null || this.value === undefined);
};

MayBe.prototype.map = function(fn) {
  return this.isNothing() ? MayBe.of(null) : MayBe.of(fn(this.value));
};

Together, we have:

const MayBe = function(val) {
  this.value = val;
}

MayBe.of = function(val) {
  return new MayBe(val);
}

MayBe.prototype.isNothing = function() {
  return (this.value === null || this.value === undefined);
};

MayBe.prototype.map = function(fn) {
  return this.isNothing() ? MayBe.of(null) : MayBe.of(fn(this.value));
};

Then we can use it by writing:

const str = MayBe.of("foo").map((x) => x.toUpperCase())

Then we get the the value property of the MayBe instance is 'FOO' .

If this.value is null or undefined , then map will return a MayBe functor with value being null .

So if we have something like:

const str = MayBe.of("james")
  .map(() => undefined)
  .map((x) => `Mr. ${x}`)

We’ll get the final value of value being null instead of throwing an error.

Either Functor

The Either functor allows us to solve problems with branches.

We create a Nothing or Some functor and out them in an object.

So we write:

const Nothing = function(val) {
  this.value = val;
};

Nothing.of = function(val) {
  return new Nothing(val);
};

Nothing.prototype.map = function(f) {
  return this;
};

const Some = function(val) {
  this.value = val;
};

Some.of = function(val) {
  return new Some(val);
};

Some.prototype.map = function(fn) {
  return Some.of(fn(this.value));
}

Now if want to hold some data, then we can use the Some functor.

Otherwise, we use the Nothing functor to hold some non-existent value.

Monads

A monad is a functor with a chain method.

The chain method calls a join method to call it return an a MayBe instance if this.value has a value.

For example, we can write:

const MayBe = function(val) {
  this.value = val;
}

MayBe.of = function(val) {
  return new MayBe(val);
}

MayBe.prototype.isNothing = function() {
  return (this.value === null || this.value === undefined);
};

MayBe.prototype.map = function(fn) {
  return this.isNothing() ? MayBe.of(null) : MayBe.of(fn(this.value));
};

MayBe.prototype.join = function() {
  return this.isNothing() ? MayBe.of(null) : this.value;
}

MayBe.prototype.chain = function(f) {
  return this.map(f).join()
}

The join method checks if this.value is null or undefined .

If it is, then we return a null MayBe functor.

Otherwise, we return this.value .

chain just calls map and join together.

This way, if we map something to null , then it stays null .

Then we can use this by writing:

let mayBe = MayBe.of({
  data: [{
    title: 'foo',
    children: [{
      bar: 2
    }]
  }]
})

let ans = mayBe.map((arr) => arr.data)
  .chain((obj) => map(obj, (x) => {
    return {
      title: x.title
    }
  }))

then we get the title from the object we passed into of .

Conclusion

A monad is a functor that has the chain method, which does the mapping and joining together.

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