Motivation: I’m writing an Elm app, but I want to use Auth0’s JavaScript library.

Elm does support JavaScript interop. It’s even documented! If you’re an Elm beginner, like me, the docs will leave you scratching your head. Here’s a more thorough example to get you started.

Note: I’m using webpack to compile and combine Elm and TypeScript into a single bundle. If you’re doing something different, I have no idea if this’ll work.

  1. Require your TS and Elm apps
  2. Instantiate your Elm App using embed
  3. Pass you’re Elm app to your TypeScript app
    var appTS = require('../ts/app.ts');
    var Elm = require('../elm/Main');
    var app = Elm.Main.embed(document.getElementById('main'));

That default function is my TypeScript module’s default export which I’ll describe next.

Step 2: Define a function that wires the library to Elm

The important bit here is that my Elm app is available as the elmApp parameter. Per the Elm documentation, I can now call send and subscribe on port functions. In this case, when my Elm app calls the login function I call Auth0’s Further, when Auth0 returns the profile object, I can send that object to my Elm app. See the Auth0 docs for info on how to use the Auth0 Lock API.

    export default function app(elmApp) {
         elmApp.ports.login.subscribe(function(event) {
         lock.on("authenticated", function(authResult) {
             lock.getProfile(authResult.idToken, function(error, profile) {
                 if (error) {
                     console.log("Authentication error: " + error);
                 localStorage.setItem('id_token', authResult.idToken);

Step 3: Define the port functions in your Elm code

This step is easy. The ports are just declarations. They don’t have a body. The only gotcha: Elm seems to require an argument on the Cmd port. I’m not using the argument, so I just pass in an empty string when I call login.

    port login : String -> Cmd a
    port profile : (Profile -> msg) -> Sub msg

The other argument types will depend on your application. Profile is a record type that corresponds to the JavaScript object passed to getProfile.

Step 4: Use the library from Elm

How you use the library is up to you ;). Elm has a couple requirements though.

Invoke Cmd functions from update

You’ll need to invoke your Cmd port functions from update. In my case, when a user clicks the login button, I generate a Login message. Then, in update, I handle that Msg in a case statement:

    Login -> (model, login "")

I don’t update the model because login happens asyncronously.

Subscribe to JavaScript functions

Since the JavaScript code will call profile asyncronously, I need to declare a handler funciton in subscriptions:


     loginComplete : Profile -> Msg
     loginComplete profile =
         LoginComplete profile

     subscriptions : Model -> Sub Msg
     subscriptions model =
             [ profile loginComplete

This basically says to pass profile messages to the loginComplete function. The loginComplete function returns a LoginComplete message containing the profile record. Since LoginComplete is a member of the Msg type, you can handle it in update.

Register subscriptions in main

The subscriptions function must be passed to your main function along with init, update, and view.

     main =
           { init = init
           , update = update
           , subscriptions = subscriptions
           , view = view

All of this took me about a day to figure out. I hope this saves you some time.


  • Matt

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14 October 2016