#elmlang – Navigating the pages – part 3 View

So far we have seen the Model and Update part of the navigation application. In this blog we complete the whole project by connecting the final missing piece View.  First let’s look at the output

First two line on the screen are the two links. One to ‘All Time Best’ and another to ‘Login’. By default ‘All Time Best’ is set as Home and if we pass any routes other than ‘Login’ all routes will be routed to ‘All Time Best’. On page load the page will look like the following; It loads ‘All Time Best’ view


When you click ‘Login’, it will display the following


In this example if you notice, we have two sections, one is the top section, which contains hyperlinks to navigate and then the view right below it to show the content of the page. For sake of simplicity, we call the top section as header and the second part as body. So view will contain the header and body

view: Model –> Html Msg

view model =

    div []

           [ header

           . body model


As like all the Elm application, view takes model as input and generates the Html that can generate messages. Model has two functions, first one is header and second one is body which takes model as parameter.

Let’s review header function first.

header: Html Msg

header =

     div []

            [ h3 []

                    [ a [ href “#alltimebest” ] [ text “All Time Best “ ]

                    , a [ href “#login” ] [ text “ Login” ]



header function takes no parameter but generates Html. This function creates two hyperlink (a tag). Only thing we need to pay attention to is the first parameter to href function. This string must match the strings in update function.

case (hash) of
       “#alltimebest” ->

      “#login” ->

Next let’s define the body function

body:Model –> Html Msg

body model =

     case (model.page) of

             AllTimeBest –>

                   alltimebest model

             Login –>

                   login model

As you can imagine we need to make sure we display appropriate body based on the page requested. During update function all we did was to change the page to appropriate page in the model but we did not display anything. In view we need to make sure based on the page information in the model we need to render appropriate content.

Based on the output we saw earlier, the alltimebest and login function has nothing but a text to show page change happened. The function definitions of the pages are below

alltimebest: Model –> Html Msg

alltimebest model =

       h1 [] [ text “All Time Best” ]

login: Model –> Html Msg

login model =

    h1 [] [ text “Login “]

Events leading up to view are

  • When someone wants to change a page, they click on the hyperlink
  • when hyper link is clicked, elm generates navigation message (UrlChange)
  • The message triggers update function
  • In update function based on the urlchange request, we create new model with the page type requested
  • On completion of model change, view function is called
  • view will turn around and call the body function with current model
  • In body function, we check the model’s page type. If the page type is AllTimeBest then we call ‘alltimebest’ function to create Html otherwise we call Login

In summary, navigation is very easy and simple in Elm. The things we need to know are

  • Use Navigation.program to connect Model, Update and View
  • Have Model with the field which can hold current page
  • In update handle Urlchange event with location parameter to change the Model
  • In view, use the Model’s current page to render the page in question

#elmlang – Navigating the pages – part 2 Update

In our previous blog we looked at the model side of the application when building SPA with navigation. In this blog we will look at the update.

To summarize the model changes, when building SPA with navigations are

  • The model need to know the current page
  • Instead of representing the page as string, in Elm explicitly state the page by union type
  • Setup initial page that we need to load during application start up

In update, there are two things we need to do

  • Define all the events our application is going to support
  • Define the actions when the events occur

Defining events:

In our navigation program, we moved away from beginnerProgram and now we are using Navigation.program. As mentioned in the previous blog, this function has all the goodies of beginnerProgram and more. When we use Navigation.program, one of the things it does when ever there is a change in url, it will trigger an event called UrlChange with location details. Since we removed all the noise in the application, UrlChange is the only event we are interested in. So let’s define the events

type Msg

    = UrlChange Navigation.Location

Anytime when a user clicks a hyperlink in a program which triggers a url change, Navigation function will trigger UrlChange event with all the information regarding the new url and its attributes. Everything regarding how to fire the event are all wrapped up in the Navigation package.

Define actions:

When a user clicks a hyperlink to go to a new page, on clicking a hyperlink, navigation function will create a event called UrlChange with the new location the user wants to go to. Anytime a new event is fired, our update function will be called first and there we need to satisfy user request. Update is where we act on the url change request. Let’s take a moment to talk about what are the things we would need to display a new page

  • in Elm architecture, one will not call render page directly
  • In Elm architecture, you modify the model which will trigger rendering a page
  • In update all we need to do is identify the page user is intending to go and modify the current page with page user’s requested page

update : Msg -> Model -> ( Model, Cmd Msg )
update msg model =
     case msg of
         UrlChange location –>
             ({ model | page = (findpage location.hash) },  Cmd.none )

As usual we are updating the model with appropriate value in update. When someone clicks on the hyperlink, the clicked hyperlink string will be available in the location.hash we will use that to identify the page user wants to navigate to. Identifying the page user wants to navigate is encapsulated in the findpage function as shown below

findpage: String –> Page

findpage hash =

    case (hash) of

         “#alltimebest” –>


          “#login” –>


            – ->


This is a very simple function, which takes url location as input string and returns the page union type.

In summary, when using Navigation.Program,

  • one clicks a navigation link, elm will trigger UrlChange event with the url link user clicked
  • when an event is fired, elm will call programs update function
  • in update function identify the page user wants to navigate to and update the model with page name
  • when a model is update rendering page will be triggered by calling view

In the next blog we will see how to modify the view to handle page navigation

#elmlang – Navigating the pages – part 1 Model

So far we were able to create a simple elm application which is able to display hard coded list of best opening credits. As you can imagine, when building non trivial application, we will end up with multiple views and based on user requests we may need to swap body with proper views. In olden days, every page was recreated and redrawn and in new SPA world only the portion of the DOM elements are swapped out with proper views.

In SPA, you can think of a page with header, body and footer. Every time when a user clicks some options in header the body will be swapped out with appropriate views.

In Elm, we solve this with navigation and routing. Everything I learned on navigation and routing came from the following three awesome links.

Instead of adding navigation to existing project, we will tackle navigation without any noise. So for our project, we are planning to have following user selections

  • All time best
  • Personal best
  • Trending now
  • About
  • Login

As the user select anyone of the options above we will show appropriate view.

To make this exercise simple and easy to follow, we will focus on just two of the five actions above,

  • All time best
  • Login

To get this one going, we need to add another elm-package called ‘Navigation’

elm package install elm-lang/navigation

Next, instead of using beginnerProgram as the lynch pin to connect model, view and update from now on we will use Navigation.program.

So why are we using Navigation.program instead of beginnerProgram? As the name suggests, this package wraps lot of navigation related activities in it and make our development easy. For starters

  1. Navigation.program is wrapped on top of Html.beginnerprogram (html.program) so all the things we learned to love is still there and more.
  2. Navigation notifies us every time there is a url change
  3. It also allows us to change the navigation
  4. It provides us with rich set of information to know what changed during url change

Like all our previous applications, we will start with model. For time being ignore our application aspect of it but focus on the navigation aspect. While we are navigating between pages, what is the one thing that we care about? We need to know which page we are in. So we need to capture that as a field in our model. Good start, we know our model has one field and it holds the current page name possibly. So what type it should be, traditional thinking would make us to define it to be String. But remember we are in Elm and we want to be as much explicit as possible. In that case, instead of defining it as a string, we could define it to be a union type of all known pages. So, let’s start by defining all the known pages

type Page =


  | Login

So we defined a union type that defines all the possible pages we are going to support. With that, our model should be something like the following

type alias Model =

   { page : Page


So we defined the model and obvious next step is to define initial state of the application.

initstate: Model

initstate =

   { page = AllTimeBest


So far nothing new. That is all for model part, next we will see update part.

You can find the full source code the example here are https://github.com/ksunair/bestopeningcredits/blob/master/simplenav.elm