Skip to content
elm kata for a short, quick intro to elm language syntax
Branch: master
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.

For a text walkthrough, see this article, "Elm: First Taste of Syntax".


Install Language

Install Elm language

brew install elm

Verify in terminal:

elm -v   # should be 0.18.x

Install Test Framework

(requires node)

npm install elm-test -g

Download Exercises

git clone

Run Tests

cd elm-kata-map && \

Error #1 - File

I cannot find module 'Map'.

Module 'Tests' is trying to import it.

To address this, create a Map.elm file in the src dir.

Error #2 - Module

The module name is messed up for ./../src/Map.elm

    According to the file's name it should be Map
    According to the source code it should be Main

Which is it?

File names are significant. Must match module name in the file:

module Map exposing (..)

Comment out Tests

Seems like a smart thing to do, right?

-- is a line comment

Let's just focus on the first test. Re-run tests.

Error #3 - Declaration

I ran into something unexpected when parsing your code!

I am looking for one of the following things:

    a definition or type annotation

Look at Test.elm to decide the API that the test requires:

(map square [])
  • First arg is a function that takes input and maps to another output.
  • Second arg is a list. This is a core type -- ordered, homogenous, but not indexable. Deals in sublists. We'll deal with this later.

Declare our Function

map transform list =
  • Name of function is first
  • Space separated arguments before the equal sign
  • Equals will bind the following expression to the identifier
  • Start with an empty List ([])

Now it should compile and pass the first test.

Type Annotation

The compiler can infer types. We can make them explicit. Sometimes to help the compiler. Always to help the reader.

map : (a -> b) -> List a -> List b
  • Usually on light directly above declaration
  • First is the name of the function
  • Separated by : colon
  • The list of parameters, separated by -> arrows
  • The final "parameter" is actually the return type; eg List b
  • Parameters listed as types only; no variable names
  • a and b are generic types; Start with a and go in alpha order by convention
  • The type (a -> b) is a function; uses parens because it's in a type annotation; A function that takes one type and returns another (a map function)
  • List a is a List of generic type a

Pattern Matching

Now uncomment the next test. It should fail.

Elm has great pattern matching.

case list of
    [] ->

    _ ->
        [ 1, 4, 9 ]
  • case {var} of expression is the pattern-matching start.
  • Patterns are registered as {expression} -> {expression} after the case.
  • The pattern can be a literal, eg []
  • _ is the default/catch-all case
  • Will need to adjust the type annotation to allow returning a List number

This step was just to push the TDD a little further. Now uncomment the other two tests and finish the real pattern mathing.

Finish the Solution

module Map exposing (..)

map : (a -> b) -> List a -> List b
map transform list =
    case list of
        [] ->

        head :: tail ->
            transform head :: map transform tail
  • head :: tail matches a non-empty list
  • :: is an operator for adding an element to the front of a list
  • So the pattern can be thought of as "Is there an element at the front of the list?"
  • The pattern breaks out the head and tail variables are actually bound to those values via the pattern matching expression, so they're available to use
  • transform head changes just the first elemnt
  • The call to map is recursive; We send the transform function straight through; tail becomes the new list (because the first element has already been transformed)
  • As the stack returns, the new list will concat using the :: operator.

Awesome, we did it!

Any ideas on how to make the solution better?

Any other thoughts or questions or things to try?

Prior Art

This exercise was adapted from the "Accumulate" exercism.

You can’t perform that action at this time.