module folktale/maybe

A data structure that models the presence or absence of a value.

Documentation

A data structure that models the presence or absence of a value.

Example:

``````const Maybe = require('folktale/maybe');

const find = (list, predicate) => {
for (var i = 0; i < list.length; ++i) {
const item = list[i];
if (predicate(item)) {
return Maybe.Just(item);
}
}
return Maybe.Nothing();
};

find([1, 2, 3], (x) => x > 2); // ==> Maybe.Just(3)
find([1, 2, 3], (x) => x > 3); // ==> Maybe.Nothing()
``````

Why use Maybe?

Some functions can always return a sensible result for all arguments that they're given. For example, the `successor` function on natural numbers can always give back a valid result, regardless of which natural number we give it. These functions are easier to understand because their results are more predictable, and we don't have to worry about errors.

Not all functions have this property (of being total), though. Functions like “find an item in this list” or “look up this key in that hashtable” don't always have an answer, and so one has to think about how they deal with the cases where the answer is not there. We have to be able to provide some kind of answer to the programmer, otherwise the program can't continue — that is, not providing an answer is the equivalent of throwing an exception.

In most languages, things like “find an item in this list” will return `null` (or the equivalent “not an object”) when the item can't be found, but what if you had a `null` in th list? In others, you can only ask the question “find me the index of this item in that list”, and when one index can't be found it answers `-1`, assuming a 0-based indexed structure. But, again, what if I have an indexed structure where `-1` is a valid index?

Really these questions require two answers: “is the item there?”, and if so, “what is the item?”, and we often need to test for those answers separately. Maybe is a data structure that helps answering these questions. A Maybe structure has two cases:

• `Just(value)` — represents the presence of an answer, and what the answer is.
• `Nothing()` — represents the absence of an answer.

If we have maybe, we can change our code from:

``````const find1 = (list, predicate) => {
for (var i = 0; i < list.length; ++i) {
const item = list[i];
if (predicate(item)) {
return item;
}
}
return null;
};

find1([1, 2, 3], (x) => x > 2); // ==> 3
find1([1, 2, 3], (x) => x > 3); // ==> null
``````

To:

``````const Maybe = require('folktale/maybe');

const find2 = (list, predicate) => {
for (var i = 0; i < list.length; ++i) {
const item = list[i];
if (predicate(item)) {
return Maybe.Just(item);
}
}
return Maybe.Nothing();
};

find2([1, 2, 3], (x) => x > 2); // ==> Maybe.Just(3)
find2([1, 2, 3], (x) => x > 3); // ==> Maybe.Nothing()
``````

This has the advantage that it's always possible to determine whether a function failed or not. For example, if we run `find1([null], x => true)`, then it'll return `null`, but if we run `find1([null], x => false)` it'll also return `null`! On the other hand, running `find2([null], x => true)` returns `Maybe.Just(null)`, and `find2([null], x => false)` returns `Maybe.Nothing()`. They're different values that can be tested.

Another advantage of using a maybe value for these situations is that, since the return value is wrapped, the user of that function is forced to acknowledge the possibility of an error, as the value can't be used directly.

Working with Maybe values

Last section shows how to create Maybe values, but how do we use them? A value wrapped in a Maybe can't be used directly, so using these values is a bit more of work. Folktale's Maybe structure provides methods to help with this, and they can be divided roughly into 3 categories:

• Extracting values: Sometimes we need to pass the value into things that don't really know what a Maybe is, so we have to somehow extract the value out of the structure. These methods help with that.

• Transforming values: Sometimes we get a Maybe value that doesn't quite have the value we're looking for. We don't really want to change the status of the computation (failures should continue to be failures, successes should continue to be successes), but we'd like to tweak the resulting value a bit. This is the equivalent of applying functions in an expression.

• Sequencing computations: A Maybe is the result of a computation that can fail. Sometimes we want to run several computations that may fail in sequence, and these methods help with that. This is roughly the equivalent of `;` in imperative programming, where the next instruction is only executed if the previous instruction succeeds.

We'll see each of these categories in more details below.

Extracting values

If we're wrapping a value in a Maybe, then we can use the value by extracting it from that container. Folktale lets you do this through the `getOrElse(default)` method:

``````const Maybe = require('folktale/maybe');

function get(object, key) {
return key in object ?  Maybe.Just(object[key])
:      /* otherwise */  Maybe.Nothing();
}

const config = {
host: '0.0.0.0'
};

const host = get(config, 'host').getOrElse('localhost');
const port = get(config, 'port').getOrElse(8080);

`\${host}:\${port}`; // ==> '0.0.0.0:8080'
``````

This works well if the only error handling we need to do is providing a default value, which is a fairly common scenario when working with Maybe values. For more advanced error handling Folktale provides more powerful methods that are described later in this document.

Transforming values

Sometimes we want to keep the context of the computation (whether it has failed or succeeded), but we want to tweak the value a little bit. For example, suppose you're trying to render the first item of a list, which involves generating some UI elements with the data from that object, but the list can be empty so you have to handle that error first. We can't use `getOrElse()` here because if we have an error, we don't want to render that error in the same way. Instead, we can use `map(transformation)` to apply our rendering logic only to successful values:

``````const Maybe = require('folktale/maybe');

function first(list) {
return list.length > 0 ?  Maybe.Just(list[0])
:      /* otherwise */    Maybe.Nothing();
}

function render(item) {
return ['item', ['title', item.title]];
}

first([{ title: 'Hello' }]).map(render);
// ==> Maybe.Just(['item', ['title', 'Hello']])

first([]).map(render);
// ==> Maybe.Nothing()
``````

Sequencing computations

Sometimes the functions we want to use to transform the value can also fail. We can't just use `.map()` here since that'd put the resulting Maybe inside of another Maybe value:

``````const Maybe = require('folktale/maybe');

function first(list) {
return list.length > 0 ?  Maybe.Just(list[0])
:      /* otherwise */    Maybe.Nothing();
}

function second(list) {
return list.length > 1 ?  Maybe.Just(list[1])
:      /* otherwise */    Maybe.Nothing();
}

function render(item) {
return ['item', ['title', item.title]];
}

first([{ title: 'Hello' }]).map(render);
// ==> Maybe.Just(['item', ['title', 'Hello']])

first([{ title: 'Hello' }]).map(render)
.map(second);
// ==> Maybe.Just(Maybe.Just(['title', 'Hello']))
``````

Ideally we'd like to get back `Maybe.Just(['title', 'Hello'])`, but `.map()` isn't the method for that. Instead, we can use the `.chain()` method. `.chain()` is a method that operates on Maybe values, and expects a function that also returns a Maybe value. This return value is then considered the whole result of the operation. Like `.map()`, `.chain()` only applies its function argument to `Just` cases:

``````first([{ title: 'Hello' }]).map(render)
.chain(second);
// ==> Maybe.Just(['title', 'Hello'])

first([]).map(render).chain(second);
// ==> Maybe.Nothing()
``````

Error handling

So far we've seen how to use values that are wrapped in a Maybe, but if the purpose of this structure is to represent something that might have failed, how do we handle those failures?

Well, a simple form of error handling is the `.getOrElse(default)` method, covered in the previous sections, which allows us to extract a value from the Maybe structure, if it exists, or get a default value otherwise.

This doesn't help much if we need to do something in response to a failure, though. So, instead, we have the `.orElse(handler)` method, which behaves quite similarly to the `.chain()` method covered previously, except it executes its handler on `Nothing`s, rather than on `Just`s. We can use this to recover from errors:

``````const Maybe = require('folktale/maybe');

function first(list) {
return list.length > 0 ?  Maybe.Just(list[0])
:      /* otherwise */    Maybe.Nothing();
}

let nextId = 1;

function issueError() {
return Maybe.Just(`Error #\${nextId++}`);
}

first([1]).orElse(issueError);
// ==> Maybe.Just(1)

first([]).orElse(issueError);
// ==> Maybe.Just('Error #1')
``````

Note that the major difference between this and `.getOrElse()` is that the handler function only gets ran on failure, whereas the expression in `.getOrElse()` is always executed:

``````nextId; // ==> 2

first([1]).getOrElse(issueError());
// ==> 1

nextId; // ==> 3
``````

Pattern matching

As with other union structures in Folktale, Maybe provides a `.matchWith()` method to perform a limited form of pattern matching. Pattern matching allows one to specify a piece of code for each case in a structure, like an `if/else` or `switch`, but specific to that structure.

We could use `.matchWith()` to run different computations depending on whether a Maybe value represents a success or a failure, for example, without the requirement of having to return a Maybe:

``````const Maybe = require('folktale/maybe');

function first(list) {
return list.length > 0 ?  Maybe.Just(list[0])
:      /* otherwise */    Maybe.Nothing();
}

first([1]).matchWith({
Just: ({ value }) => `Found: \${value}`,
Nothing: () => 'Nothing was found'
});
// ==> 'Found: 1'

first([]).matchWith({
Just: ({ value }) => `Found: \${value}`,
Nothing: () => 'Nothing was found'
});
// ==> 'Nothing was found'
``````

Properties

Comparing and testing

hasInstance(value)

Tests if an arbitrary value is a Maybe instance.

Constructing

empty()

Constructs a Maybe containing no value (a `Nothing`).

of(value)

Constructs a Maybe value that represents a successful value (a `Just`).

Converting from other types

fromNullable(aNullable)

A convenience method for the `folktale/conversions/nullable-to-maybe` module.

fromResult(aResult)

A convenience method for the `folktale/conversions/result-to-maybe` module.

fromValidation(aValidation)

A convenience method for the `folktale/conversions/validation-to-maybe` module.

Fantasy Land

fantasy-land/of(value)

Part of the Applicative instance for Fantasy Land 2.x+. See the `of` method for details.

Serialising

fromJSON(value, parsers = { [typeName]: adt }, keysIndicateType = false)

Parses a JavaScript object previously serialised as `aMaybe.toJSON()` into a proper Maybe structure.

Experimental

Variants

Just(value)

Constructs a Maybe value that represents a successful value (a `Just`).

Nothing()

Constructs a Maybe value that represents a failure (a `Nothing`).

Source Code

Defined in source/maybe/index.js at line 23, column 0
``````{
Just: Maybe.Just,
Nothing: Maybe.Nothing,
hasInstance: Maybe.hasInstance,
of: Maybe.of,
empty: Maybe.empty,
fromJSON: Maybe.fromJSON,
[typeSymbol]: Maybe[typeSymbol],
['fantasy-land/of']: Maybe['fantasy-land/of'],

/*~
* stability: stable
* type: |
*   forall a: (a or void) => Maybe a
*/
fromNullable(aNullable) {
return require('folktale/conversions/nullable-to-maybe')(aNullable);
},

/*~
* stability: stable
* type: |
*   forall a, b: (Result a b) => Maybe b
*/
fromResult(aResult) {
return require('folktale/conversions/result-to-maybe')(aResult);
},

/*~
* stability: stable
* type: |
*   forall a, b: (Validation a b) => Maybe b
*/
fromValidation(aValidation) {
return require('folktale/conversions/validation-to-maybe')(aValidation);
}
}``````
Stability
stable
Licence
MIT
Module
folktale/maybe
Authors