Integrating Elm with a jQuery plugin

May 18, 2016

For the past few days, I have been playing around with Elm language to see if I can use it in one of my upcoming projects. While I was happy with the strongly typed language and the architecture, I was concerned if I can use the existing ecosystem of Javascript libraries in it without much boilerplate. This post will indeed show how easy that is. Note: if you have already read this, then this article offers nothing new (Though I would argue that this gives an example with a real library). But if you haven’t read it, then this may give you an rough idea of how much code is required for it.


Let’s take some jQuery plugin and then try to integrate it with Elm. I chose notifyjs plugin which allows us to create notification. So our objective is to create a simple UI with a input text and a button. When the button is clicked, the text in the input form will be shown to us via the notifyjs plugin.

The Elm part

The Elm code without any jQuery integration:

module Notify exposing (..)

import Html exposing (Html, div, input, text, button)
import Html.App as Html
import Html.Attributes exposing (..)
import Html.Events exposing (onInput, onClick)
import String

main = Html.program { init = model
                    , view = view
                    , update = update
                    , subscriptions = \x -> Sub.none

type alias Model = { content : String }

model =  (Model "", Cmd.none)

type Msg  = Change String
          | Alert

update : Msg -> Model -> (Model, Cmd Msg)
update msg model =
  case msg of
    Change newContent ->
      ({ model | content = newContent }, Cmd.none)
    Alert -> (model, Cmd.none)

view : Model -> Html Msg
view model =
  div []
    [ input [ placeholder "Enter alert message", onInput Change ] []
    , button [ onClick Alert ] [ text "Show Alert!" ]

Now, compile it to create the js file:

elm-make Notify.elm --output notify.js

And the corresponding html file:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<title>Sample Elm app</title>
<script src="./notify.js"></script> 
    var app = Elm.Notify.fullscreen();

The Integration part

Now let’s do the integration with the jQuery plugin. There are four steps for it:

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="./notifyLib.js"></script>
<script src="./notify.js"></script> 
    var app = Elm.Notify.fullscreen();
    app.ports.alert.subscribe(function(word) {

And voila, you get a alert:

Alert notification using notifyjs

For a more complex example, you can refer to the elm guide which also shows the use of subscription.