re: Rethinking JavaScript: The if statement VIEW POST


Sorry, but you haven't used functional programming techniques to remove the need for if statements.

Instead you've replaced the if statement with an alternative syntax which should not be used for extended if else logic.

The if statement is most of the time better than the ternary operator because it is usually much more readable.


You are absolutely correct about eliminating if statements not being "functional".

Eliminating the if statement is a pre-functional step that will make it easier to create functional code.

The key difference being the transition from statements and blocks into expressions.

This minor change can allow you to use it in function compositions:

const computeStuff = R.compose(
  x => x % 3 === 0 ? 'Yes' : 'No',
  x => x + 2

My ternary example is also structured in a similar way to Ramda's cond.

// from:
var fn = R.cond([
  [R.equals(0),   R.always('water freezes at 0°C')],
  [R.equals(100), R.always('water boils at 100°C')],
  [R.T,           temp => 'nothing special happens at ' + temp + '°C']
fn(0); //=> 'water freezes at 0°C'
fn(50); //=> 'nothing special happens at 50°C'
fn(100); //=> 'water boils at 100°C'

Readability is very subjective and depends on what you are already previously familiar with (aka familiarity bias).

For example, which code is more "readable" here, VB or C#?

Dim count As Integer = 0
Dim message As String

If count = 0 Then
    message = "There are no items."
ElseIf count = 1 Then
    message = "There is 1 item."
    message = "There are " & count & " items."
End If
int count = 0;
string message;

if (count == 0) {
    message = "There are no items.";
} else if (count == 1) {
    message = "There is 1 item.";
} else {
    message = "There are " & count & " items.";

I would say the C# is more readable, but that is because I have spent more time in this land. Someone who spends their whole day in VB land will say the opposite.

To me, when done right, the ternary is much more readable.

I would argue that the ternary isn't any more or less readable than an if statement, but instead only less familiar.


In your first example it is clean, readable and perfectly fine to use it in that way.

In your comparison of C# and VB both are perfectly understandable to any developer of almost any modern programming language.

The ternary is familiar to any moderately experienced developer. In the examples in your article they do not in any way improve upon the standard if statement or aid in functional programming.

The norm is to use if..else if..else for multiple clauses. Deviating from that norm needs a good reason. The examples in your article are not good reasons.

The reasons being that when you start to substitute statements and blocks with expressions, your code will be much easier to write functionally. It it hard to see the benefit from just this one article, but it's an important (small) step towards creating functional (or pre-functional) code.

The same arguments could be said about a for loop or switch statement, which like if are also imperative (non-functional) constructs.

I also remove for and switch for more functional code.

Replacing a single if else statement with the ternary operator in a lambda function does enable you to write the logic in one terse expression on one line. I agree that this is a good thing.

This does not make the ternary operator functional and the if...else block not. It's just a, in this use case, more appropriate syntax for exactly the same result.

You could rewrite a single line arrow function that uses a ternary operator as a multiline arrow function using if..else and the function would still be functional, it would behave in exactly the same way.

The ternary operator is great for a single one line piece of logic. It is less great for multiple if..else if logic - just use an if block, it's easier.


Agreed. In most cases, ternaries are not improvements but an obscure alternative to standard if else clauses.

Better ways to tackle if else clauses would be early returns and functional practices.


There is nothing obscure about a ternary statement. It is possible that you are less familiar with an ternary and more familiarity with an if statement (aka familiarity bias). This only has to do with what you have been more exposed to. But there is nothing about a ternary that makes it "obscure".

They key to this change (if -> ternary) is the elimination of statements and blocks and a shift to expressions.

The use of statements and blocks is an imperative style of programming and are unnecessary in functional programs.

When you eliminate statements and blocks, you will find that your code will naturally become more functional.

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