This is a possible solution for a module that solves a problem from a real life implementation my company have today. The code is perfect to show some functional programming styles, that is small enough to show in a blog post.


You can download the code and play with it. If you have some improvements please share it with me.
You’ll neede node >= 4 to run this tutorial. All Anotations are in the Sourcefile, too.


One ordering system (A) should commit the order to a vendor system (B). A is a modern scripting framework, fully RESTIfyed. Mobile Apps talk to this Service to place and pay orers. B is an old fashion 16-Bit single-core system-on-a-chipm, like a softdrink automat.

The automat doesn’t understand JSON or XML. It wants to get the order in an ugly but powerfull custom format. To understand the implementation, you have to understand the machine first. The softdrink automat has 16 Slots with different drinks in it.

To proceed an order it have two data fields to submit from the app to the machine:

  • validOrder
  • priceOrder

validOrder is a 16-Bit STRING-value that indicated the slot of the machine. For every bought product the corresponding bit must be set to high. For example: to get a „Mate“ out of this maschine validOrder must be: 0000000000001000. To get a Mate and a cold Beer validOrder must be set to: 0000000010001000.

priceOrder must be set correctly, too. The priceOrder is an array-like STRING of cents onto the right array index. Let’s say a Coke costs $ 2.50. That the first position (from behind) must be 250. For our example with the Mate ($ 2.50) and the cold Beer ($ 2.80) the priceOrder array should be: 0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,280,0,0,0,250,0,0,0

We can not look inside the maschine, but we belive that the input will be pared in c to int and pushed to a shift-register to turn on the motors of the slots.

More than one product: Ok, let’s say a friend comes in and wants a beer, too. The validOrder is still 0000000010001000, but the price has to be increased to: 0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,560,0,0,0,250,0,0,0 because 560 is 2 * 280, thats the cent of a beer for $ 2.80. The validOrder must be the same, because it triggers only the active slots.

So far so good, but our modern ordering system does not know anything about slot positions. Hm, we are dealing with so called PLU (price look-up code) Luckily we can set the PLU like we want, so we define a table of plus that are the power of two.

Coke             1
Sprite:          2
Mate:            4 
Water:           8
Fanta:          16
Bionade:        32
Red Wine:       64
Beer:          128
Ginger Ale:    256
Tonic:         512
Orangina:     1024
Fritz Cola:   2048

Different Thoughts

Well my first thought was a functional programming one. I found is reasonable to map/reduce the PLUs to it’s corresponding bit values, while my colleague was more on the iterating side of this town. Well nothing is more or less correct. One or the other way is good. There is no one final solution to this problem. There are many ways. I present one way in this post, a approach that i do like the most. That does not mean that this is the best one.


I implement the functional way here to demonstrate the approach of functional units. Feel free to do a nice and clever way of your own and share it with me. I like to see other solutions and I really like to read code.

I will annotate the source to demonstrate and teach the approach. Feel free to comment the steps. It is mastering time, folks!

The code is written from top to bottom. Maybe it is not like i would commit into the corporate SCM, but it will show how I think while coding and more how functional programming in JavaScript supports me.

The Code

We use let and other stuff from modern ECMA script

"use strict";

Modules we use

let _ = require('underscore')


a order is placed, we habe a array of PLU’s 1 x Code 2 X Beer

let order = [
      {plu: 1,   price: 150}
    , {plu: 128, price: 280}
    , {plu: 128, price: 280}

In this example we habe a 16-Bit vendor machine

const BITS = 16

First thoughts about how we can solve the porblem.

We habe two separate outputs. The calculation of valid is diffrent to the calculation to price. So I will seerate them from each other. That will be good for testing and debugging, too. I wrap them in functions first, befor I implement the rest. A good style is to do the underlaying mechanism first. My function design is to call each of it by a single PLU.
I have to implement two functions:

  • getValidationStringForPLU
  • getPriceArrayStringForItem

Transform a PLU into its binary

Parameter: PLU (the product PLU) Parameter: padding (a length of the returned string)
Usage: getValidationStringForPLU(plu, BITS); The result for 128 is '0000000010000000'

let getValidationStringForPLU = function getValidationStringForPLU(plu, len){
     * Because the plu is in the power of two, we just need to transform it into the 
     * binary representation
    var binaryString = (parseInt(plu) >>> 0).toString(2);

    // if a len is set, than pad the string to the right.
        binaryString = '0'.repeat(       // repeat to add a '0' 
            len - binaryString.length    // for the times that is the differences between
                                         // the current length and given len
        ) + binaryString;                // and than append the original string
    return binaryString;

Transform a item with price into its price-array-position

Parameter: Item (the product object) Parameter: size (the size of the returned array)
The result for 128 is '[ , , , , , , , , 280, , , , , , , ]'

let getPriceArrayStringForItem = function getPriceArrayStringForItem(item, size){
    var price = new Array(size);
     * The position in the array is the product from: 
     * BASETONUM(LOG(PLU, 2), 10)
     * But: Position 0 is the last, and position 16 is the first place in the array, so
     * turn it around  with ABS(current - size).
     let position = Math.abs(
        - (size -1)
     price[position] = item.price;       // set the price to the korrekt position
     return price;

We map every plu to its own price array:

PLU - - - \
PLU - - - -  [,,,,,,,,280,,,,,,,] ---> [,,,,,,,,560,,,,,,,250]
             [,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 50]
PLU - - - /

This can be done asynchron and does not need any other requirements. You can do it on parallel or on different machines. This is the MAPPING part. Later on I will show the REDUCEING part of the m/r, because I need something to reduce the arrays into a single one. But how will the reducing work? It will need some ‚processor‘ that knows what to do. The smalest piece i can imagine is (well i can image a photon or a hicks, but not in real life – and that is real life code…) to sum up two arrays. More specific what i want to have later on is a function that adds every element in an array to the same position of another array.

sumPrice will add a price array to another. That is my smalest unit – the precesor of the reduce.

I could use a function like: let sumPrice = function sumPrice(pricesLeft, pricesRight){ .. } …, but I prefere Prototypes for simple tasks on Objects. We have an array, and want
to add another array to it, so why don’t extend the Array.Object with this functionality.

Array.prototype.sumArray = function(arr) {                      // Prototyping Array
    var sum = [];                                               // a Temporary new Array 
    if (arr != null && this.length == arr.length) {             // check validation
        for (var i = 0; i < arr.length; i++) {                  // itterate every element
             * Add the element to the temporary array 
             * with the product of both elements or 0
            sum.push((parseInt(this[i]) || 0) + (parseInt(arr[i]) || 0));
             * !!! ATTENTION
             * Yes, I could override the elements in 'this', instead of returning the new 
             * array. But would it be more readable? I expect a returning result from a 
             * function call.
             * Maybe I should rewrite it that it behaves exactly like pop() and push() 
             * later on. 
    } else { console.error("missmatch array summarising", this, arr); } // loging
    return sum; // return the temporary array as a new result 

Now I have all I need! I can implement the calculation part

// first I get the valid-string of all items, therefore I have to prepare the collection
let uniqueProductPlus = _.unique(       // each plu MUST be quniqe, function(item){        // map the orders to get only the PLU
        return item.plu;

Get Valid-Order

Because every plu is now unique and in the power of two it is possible to sum it p. And get the binary string at once. The calculation is easy: Coke 1 = 00000001 Beer 128 = 00010000 so a Coke and a Beer is 1 + 128 = 129. And 129 in binary is : 00010001

let validOrder = getValidationStringForPLU(
    // count all PLUs together
    _.reduce(uniqueProductPlus, function(n, memo){ return n + memo; }, 0)
    // padding to 16
    , BITS
console.log( "Valid Order:", validOrder );  // <- Eh, thats the whole trick. 😉

ok fine, whats next. 50% done. Now, I need the price array…

Get Valid-Price

I should slightly do the same, but on all PLUs. First I’ll map them all into price arrays like described above, …

let validPrice = _.reduce(priceArrays, function(n, memo){   // reduce all arrays
    return memo.sumArray(n);                                // by the processor sumArray
                                                            // with the last result.
}, new Array(BITS));                                        // up from an empty array.
console.log( "Valid Price:", validPrice );  // <- Year! Print it out


Valid Order: 0000000010000001
Valid Price: [ 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 560, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 150 ]


I hope this brings a bit more fun to functional programming without side effects. node.js and swift are really good language for data-crunching tasks like this. It is so much better for to „think in a language“. Remember: divide a Problem into single units and than implement each unit from the bottom up to the solution.