Conceptual overview

Njagi Mwaniki edited this page Apr 4, 2016 · 26 revisions

What follows is an Om conceptual guide.

Tangible Data

Object Oriented programming as a paradigm has many real benefits but one of the worst plagues it has inflicted on programming culture is obscuring data. Functional programming is not a silver bullet but its emphasis on unadorned data is a guiding light.

No models.

Rather than introducing a middle man, Om allows programmers to build user interfaces over unadorned data. Still, structuring UI components benefits greatly from the good bits of Object Oriented thinking and Om leaves these be.


An Om component is analogous to a HTML element. So it may or may not contain other elements. In this case(in contrast to HTML elements), we create a component because we want to interact with the data in it.

Om offers an approach more or less analogous to React's, but we do not actually pass raw React props or states to implementers of the life cycle protocols. Instead we pass immutable values in both cases.

While it may not seem so at first, it's useful to preserve something like React's component local state for two reasons:

  • Often you do not want to pollute the original data with transient application state information, editing a text field is a good example of this.
  • The other useful aspect of being able to set component local state is that it's always guaranteed to be up-to-date. This is not true for application state since Om renders on requestAnimationFrame, and application state information is only guaranteed to be consistent during the render phase. Thus event handlers must ask for an up-to-date view of the application state.

Application State

om.core/transact! is used to transition the application state. The transition function should only rely on information obtained by deref-ing a cursor, om.core/get-state, om.core/transact!, or om.core/update!.


Om components, like React components, take props (short for properties). In Om components the props are actually a cursor into the app state. Cursors are conceptually related to functional lenses and zippers. Don't be afraid–it just means that Om component props internally maintain path information to determine their location in the app state. You can interact with them through many of the standard Clojure APIs. You can even make cursors out of JavaScript natives like numbers and strings! Cursors means Om components are freed from knowing or caring where in the app state their data comes from while still having the ability to update it thus preserving component modularity.

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