This page covers Elm 0.18

Multiple modules

Our application is going to grow soon, so keeping things in one file will become hard to maintain quite fast.

Circular dependencies

Another issue we are likely to hit at some point will be circular dependencies. For example we might have:

  • A Main module which has a Player type on it.
  • A View module that imports the Player type declared in Main.
  • Main importing View to render the view.

We now have a circular dependency:

Main --> View
View --> Main

How to break it?

In this case what we need to do is to move the Player type out of Main, somewhere it can be imported by both Main and View.

To deal with circular dependencies in Elm the easiest thing to do is to split your application into smaller modules. In this particular example we can create another module that can be imported by both Main and View. We will have three modules:

  • Main
  • View
  • Models (contains the Player type)

Now the dependencies will be:

Main --> Models
View --> Models

There is no circular dependency anymore.

Try creating separate modules for things like messages, models, commands and utilities, which are modules that are usually imported by many components.

Let's break the application in smaller modules:


module Messages exposing (..)

type Msg
    = NoOp


module Models exposing (..)

type alias Model =


module Update exposing (..)

import Messages exposing (Msg(..))
import Models exposing (Model)

update : Msg -> Model -> ( Model, Cmd Msg )
update msg model =
    case msg of
        NoOp ->
            ( model, Cmd.none )


module View exposing (..)

import Html exposing (Html, div, text)
import Messages exposing (Msg)
import Models exposing (Model)

view : Model -> Html Msg
view model =
    div []
        [ text model ]


module Main exposing (..)

import Html exposing (Html, div, text, program)
import Messages exposing (Msg)
import Models exposing (Model)
import Update exposing (update)
import View exposing (view)

init : ( Model, Cmd Msg )
init =
    ( "Hello", Cmd.none )

subscriptions : Model -> Sub Msg
subscriptions model =


main : Program Never Model Msg
main =
        { init = init
        , view = view
        , update = update
        , subscriptions = subscriptions

You can find the code here

There are lots of little modules now, this is overkill for a trivial application. But for a bigger application splitting it makes it easier to work with.

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