This page covers Tutorial v2. Elm 0.18.

Multiple modules

Our application is growing, so keeping things in one file will quickly become difficult to maintain.

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 up?

In this case we need to move the Player type out of Main, to some place where 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 into smaller modules:

First, check your elm-package.json. Make sure "source-directories" points to the directory where our new modules will go. In this example, it will be the src directory.

    "source-directories": [

Now we are ready to create the modules


module Msgs exposing (..)

type Msg
    = NoOp


module Models exposing (..)

type alias Model =


module Update exposing (..)

import Msgs 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 Msgs exposing (Msg)
import Models exposing (Model)

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


module Main exposing (..)

import Html exposing (program)
import Msgs 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, which is overkill for a trivial application. But for a bigger application splitting it up makes it easier to work with.

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