I'm normally a C# developer, but I've started to learn F# and I want to make sure I'm writing code in a functional way that suits the language. I've quickly pieced this together with my knowledge from reading Functional Programming for the Real World and various material from the Web.

Please look and provide feedback on style, layout or anything you want (Program.fs is where the meat is):

// DataUtils.fs
module DataUtils

open System.IO
open System.Runtime.Serialization.Json
open System.Text

let GetJsonFromObject<'T> (obj:'T) =
    use ms = new MemoryStream()
    (new DataContractJsonSerializer(typeof<'T>)).WriteObject(ms, obj)

let GetObjectFromJson<'T> (json:string) : 'T =
    use ms = new MemoryStream(ASCIIEncoding.Default.GetBytes(json))
    let obj = (new DataContractJsonSerializer(typeof<'T>)).ReadObject(ms)
    obj :?> 'T

// Web.fs
module Web

open System
open System.Net
open System.IO

let GetJsonFromWebRequest url =

    let req = WebRequest.Create(new Uri(url)) :?> HttpWebRequest
    req.ContentType <- "application/json"

    let res = req.GetResponse () :?> HttpWebResponse
    use stream = res.GetResponseStream()
    use sr = new StreamReader(stream)
    let data = sr.ReadToEnd()

// Model.fs
module Model

open System.Runtime.Serialization

type exchangeRate = {
    [<field: DataMember(Name = "to")>]
    [<field: DataMember(Name = "rate")>]
    [<field: DataMember(Name = "from")>]
    fromCurrency:string }

// Program.fs
module Program

open System
open Model

let getExchangeRate fromCurrency toCurrency =
    let url = String.Format("http://rate-exchange.appspot.com/currency?from={0}&to={1}", fromCurrency, toCurrency)
    let json = Web.GetJsonFromWebRequest url
    let rate:exchangeRate = DataUtils.GetObjectFromJson json

let rec displayExchangeRate currencies =
    match currencies with
    | [] -> []
    | (a, b)::tl ->
        let r = getExchangeRate a b
        printfn "%s -> %s = %A" a b r.rate
        displayExchangeRate tl

let currencies = [
    ("GBP", "EUR")
    ("GBP", "USD")
    ("EUR", "GBP")
    ("EUR", "USD")
    ("USD", "GBP")
    ("USD", "EUR") ]

displayExchangeRate currencies |> ignore

printfn "Press any key to exit"
let input = Console.ReadKey()

As you can see it's not doing an awful lot at the moment, just getting some exchange rates from a REST service and displaying them. The next step would be to add exchange rates to the database. I'd normally use Entity Framework for this, but given that Functional Programming is partly about reducing the amount of state that is held, is EF even the way to go?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ DataUtils breaks parametricity. Check out fsprojects.github.io/SQLProvider for SQL data access. Generate currency combinations programmatically. Write a display exchange rate function for a single currency pair, then use a higher-order function to turn it into a function that handles many pairs. Except for the type provider, nothing about this is specific to F#, it applies to C# as well. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 17:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I've took what you said and made some changes. This SQLProvider looks interesting, I'll also have a look at this. When you say it breaks parametricity, is that because it forces typing? \$\endgroup\$
    – alundy
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 15:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ On parametricity, see bugsquash.blogspot.com/2014/05/… . It's ok to break parametricity for a one-off script, but otherwise it will hamper reasoning and compile-time checking. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 17:05
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @alund Just a general comment (since you're new to F#): go read every article/series on fsharpforfunandprofit.com, it is well worth the time \$\endgroup\$
    – paul
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 20:16

3 Answers 3


It looks good! Just a couple of points.

  • Instead of

    let data = sr.ReadToEnd()

    you can write

  • sprintf is more idiomatic than String.Format.

  • displayExchangeRate would be better written as a loop or using List.iter (or Seq.iter).

  • DataContractJsonSerializer.WriteObject uses Encoding.UTF8, but you're decoding with Encoding.Default, which returns the OS's current ANSI code page.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the suggestions. I agree with all, so I'll make these changes. \$\endgroup\$
    – alundy
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 15:36

You can destructure tuples in the function signature. So there is no need for the match in displayExchangeRate, you can just do this:

let displayExchangeRate (ccyA, ccyB) =
    let r = getExchangeRate ccyA ccyB
    printfn "%s -> %s = %A" ccyA ccyB r.rate

Your getCombinations function can perhaps be written a little more expressively as a list comprehension:

let getCombinations' list =
    [ for x in list do
      for y in list do
      if x <> y then yield (x, y) ]

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