Java Optional type with JavaScript

Ensar Bavrk
Jan 11 · 3 min read

While I was writing a lot of Java I fell in love with the Optional type, Optional is the type which comes from amazing library guava, also now it’s included in the Java standard library itself. If you are not familiar with optional, simply said, Optional will encapsulate the type checking and guards against missing values for us. In this short article, I will try to show how to create a similar type with JavaScript.

First, we will need to create a new wrapper type which will when instantiated contain either value or a null/undefined. Therefore, it is going to be possible to manipulate missing values as if they were normal objects without necessarily having to perform a null or undefined check at every step.

class OptionalType {
constructor (value){
this.value = value
get() {
return this.value
getOrElse(orElse) {
const elseVal = orElse instanceof Function ?
orElse() :
return this.isDefined() ? this.value : elseVal;
map(mapFn) {
return this.isDefined() ?
new of(mapFn(this.value)) :

flatMap(mapFn) {
return this.isDefined() ? mapFn(this.value) : empty()
isDefined () {
return (this.value !== undefined);

Intentionally I left some methods that come from original Java Optional type since probably map, flatMap, and getOrElse are the ones that you will use for the most of the times while interacting with the Optional.

And now we only need a proper interface for instantiating Optional objects, and for that, we will create two functions of, and empty and put them inside an Optional object.

const empty = () =>
new OptionalType()

const of = value =>
(value === undefined || value === null) ?
new empty() :
new OptionalType(value)
const Optional = {
export default Optional;

Then we only export that single Optional object from this file and that is all for our simple and small implementation of this very powerful type.

How this is useful to us?

Let’s see in the example below

const toUpper = str => str.toUpperCase()const textScraper = elem => 
.map(match => match[1])
const someValuee = textScraper('<p>some text</p>')
.map(text => text.trim())
.map(str => str + " here")
.flatMap(str => new Optional.of(toUpper(str)))
.getOrElse(() => 'there is no text to scrape')

we created a function textScraper, a function will take an HTML paragraph as a string and it will get the text from it, and the result of the string.match we wrapped inside an Optional and we mapped to take a second element of the match function because we are only interested in the text part the paragraph, after that when we consumed textScraper function we did more formatting and if the supplied HTML element is not a p tag or for whatever reason operation fails we will get a default text instead of failing.

Full source code from the text above can be found on this gist.

If you like an Idea of the Optional type I highly recommend to look at this cool package

Or if you are more leaning on the FP side I will recommend an amazing collection of ADTs for JS, the evil soft crocks, it includes the maybe type which can be used as same as java’s Optional type :)

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