# Functortown: Applicative

This series is focused on one important typeclass – `Applicative`

– and what applicative functors are. The series starts from a motivating example, a somewhat stripped-down version of something you might have encountered in “real code” and shows how the problem is solved with “`fmap`

plus a little something extra.” We go on to explore applicative functors in depth, working up to showing how the `Applicative`

class provides us with some useful tools for concurrency and parsing, among other tasks.

We also cover in this series two typeclasses that are closely related to `Applicative`

: `Alternative`

and `Traversable`

. If you have ever seen a Haskeller announce that “the answer is always `traverse`

” and wondered how that could possibly be even jokingly true, then this series is a great place to start.

*Prerequisites:*

- knowledge of basic types and also
*kinds*; - some comprehension of typeclasses and their relationship with types; and
- facility with Haskell syntax;
- a good understanding of
`Functor`

and`fmap`

.

## History

### Introduction

`Applicative`

, `Foldable`

, and `Traversable`

appeared in GHC 6.6 in 2006. The inclusion of applicative functors in GHC was preceded by two important papers: *Applicative programming with effects* introducing the idea, and *The essence of the iterator pattern* elaborating on its significance.

### Inclusion in Prelude

For nearly a decade, these classes lived in their own separate modules: `Control.Applicative`

, `Data.Foldable`

, and `Data.Traversable`

. Then in 2015, things took a dramatic turn when GHC 7.10.1 brought them all into the `Prelude`

module. The types of many `Prelude`

functions were changed to make use of these constraints. For example:

This version also formalized the relationship between `Applicative`

and `Monad`

by introducing a new constraint: Every `Monad`

instance is now required to have a corresponding `Applicative`

instance.

## Lesson descriptions

`Maybe`

there’s a function – First we introduce a you might find in real everyday code: sometimes the function is embedded within a`Maybe`

context because it might not be there. This is a problem`fmap`

alone can’t solve for us. We need an`fmap`

for times when our function is stuck inside a constructor. But every problem is an opportunity to invent a solution, so we invent one. Then meet the typeclass that is designed for handling that situation in a general way,`Applicative`

.Applicatives are monoidal! – This lesson starts with a comparison of different

`Applicative`

idioms and compares`liftA2`

directly with`(<*>)`

. Then we look at product types as applicative functors and the connection between monoids and applicatives.Sequencing effects – Here we take up with the rest of the

`Applicative`

class, namely the so-called*sequencing*operators,`(*>)`

and`(<*)`

. This leads us to consider carefully what is meant by*effects*when we talk about applicatives and gives us a new perspective on the connection, discussed in the previous lesson, of the connection between monoids and applicatives. We also give an example of applicative parsing techniques.List and

`ZipList`

– Now you’re in for a surprise: lists are applicative functors in two ways. In this lesson we talk about why – which does lead us to talking about monoids again, just when you thought we were done with that!The

`Reader`

context – This lesson revolves around a fun example: recruiter emails! As we did in the`Functor`

series, we look at the function instance of`Applicative`

as well as a`newtype`

wrapper for functions called`Reader`

and see how the applicative can make our tedious email chores more exciting.Applicatives compose – The

`Reader`

newtype is often combined with`IO`

in Haskell programs. Here we look at`IO`

as an`Applicative`

, what it means to say that*functors compose*, and how to combine`Reader`

with`IO`

to make a single powerful applicative functor.The

`Compose`

newtype – In this lesson, we continue working with the notion of applicative functor composition. Our goal here is to make it even more abstract and generalizable, and we introduce the`Compose`

`newtype`

as one means of abstracting out the very notion of functor composition. We end the lesson with a look at a practical use of`DerivingVia`

.

*Not yet written*:

- Concurrency
- The
`Applicative`

laws and property tests - A monoid for applicative functors
`Traversable`

: what and why- Connection to
`Applicative`

- Examples of
`traverse`

usage - The
`Traversable`

laws and property tests

We expect to release one new lesson in this series every *other* week, until it is completed. When this series is completed, we will begin posting the `Monad`

series.