Killer Elixir-Tips

Killer Elixir-Tips

Elixir Tips and Tricks from the Experience of Development. Each part consists of 10 Unique Tips and Tricks with a clear explanation with live examples and outputs. These tips will speed up your development and save you time in typing code as well.

You can read specific parts with following links...

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Checkout some cherry picked tips from the all Parts

Taste Before you Eat :)

iex Custom Configuration - iex Decoration

Copy the content into a file and save the file as .iex.exs in your ~ home directory and see the magic. You can also download the file HERE

# IEx.configure colors: [enabled: true]
# IEx.configure colors: [ eval_result: [ :cyan, :bright ] ]
IO.puts IO.ANSI.red_background() <> IO.ANSI.white() <> " ❄❄❄ Good Luck with Elixir ❄❄❄ " <> IO.ANSI.reset
Application.put_env(:elixir, :ansi_enabled, true)
 colors: [
   eval_result: [:green, :bright] ,
   eval_error: [[:red,:bright,"Bug Bug ..!!"]],
   eval_info: [:yellow, :bright ],
 default_prompt: [
   "\e[G",    # ANSI CHA, move cursor to column 1
    "❤" ,       # plain string
    "▶" ,         # plain string
    "▶▶"  ,       # plain string
      # ❤ ❤-»" ,  # plain string
  ] |> IO.ANSI.format |> IO.chardata_to_string


Creating Custom Sigils and Documenting

Each x sigil calls its respective sigil_x definition

Defining Custom Sigils

defmodule MySigils do
  #returns the downcasing string if option l is given then returns the list of downcase letters
  def sigil_l(string,[]), do: String.downcase(string)
  def sigil_l(string,[?l]), do: String.downcase(string) |> String.graphemes

  #returns the upcasing string if option l is given then returns the list of downcase letters
  def sigil_u(string,[]), do: String.upcase(string)
  def sigil_u(string,[?l]), do: String.upcase(string) |> String.graphemes


Load the module into iex

iex> import MySigils
iex> ~l/HELLO/
iex> ~l/HELLO/l
["h", "e", "l", "l", "o"]
iex> ~u/hello/
iex> ~u/hello/l
["H", "E", "L", "L", "O"]

Custom Error Definitions

Define Custom Error

defmodule BugError do
   defexception message: "BUG BUG .." # message is the default


iex bug_error.ex

iex> raise BugError
** (BugError) BUG BUG ..
iex> raise BugError, message: "I am Bug.." #here passing the message dynamic
** (BugError) I am Bug..

Writing Protocols

Define a Protocol

A Protocol is a way to dispatch to a particular implementation of a function based on the type of the parameter. The macros defprotocol and defimpl are used to define Protocols and Protocol implementations respectively for different types in the following example.

defprotocol Triple do    
  def triple(input)  

defimpl Triple, for: Integer do    
  def triple(int) do     
    int * 3   

defimpl Triple, for: List do
  def triple(list) do
    list ++ list ++ list   


Load the code into iex and execute

iex> Triple.triple(3) 
Triple.triple([1, 2])
[1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2]

Ternary Operator

There is no ternary operator like true ? "yes" : "no" . So, the following is suggested.

"no" = if 1 == 0, do: "yes", else: "no"

Advantage of Kernel.||

When using pipelines, sometimes we break the pipeline for or operation. For example:

result = :input
|> do_something
|> do_another_thing
# Bad
result = (result || :default_output)
|> do_something_else

Indeed, || is only a shortcut for Kernel.|| . We can use Kernel.|| in the pipeline instead to avoid breaking the pipeline.

The code above will be:

result = :input
|> do_something
|> do_another_thing
|> Kernel.||(:default_output)  #<-- This line
|> do_something_else

This above tip is from qhwa

Checking Out Code Grouping

Code grouping stands for something great. It shows you how your code is grouped when you write multiple lines of code in single line with out using braces. It will be more clear with the following example.

one 1 |> two()

If you want to see how this line of code is grouped into, you can check in the following format..

quote(do: one 1 |> two()) |> Macro.to_string |> IO.puts
one(1 |> two())

So, by using the quote and Macro.to_string you can see how our code was grouped into.

This tip came out in discussion with the creator of Ecto MichalMuskala in the Elixir forum.

Elixir Short Circuit Operators && — ||

These replaces the nested complicated conditions. These are my best friends in the situations dealing with more complex comparisons. Trust me you gonna love this.

The || operator always returns the first expression which is true. Elixir doesn’t care about the remaining expressions, and won’t evaluate them after a match has been found.


false || nil || :blackode || :elixir || :jose

Here if you observe the first expression is false next nil is also false in elixir next :blackode which evaluates to true and its value is returned immediately with out evaluating the :elixir and :jose . Similarly if all the statements evaluates to false the last expression is returned.


iex> true && :true && :elixir && 5
iex> nil && 100
iex> salary = is_login && is_admin && is_staff && 100_000

This && returns the second expression if the first expression is true or else it returns the first expression with out evaluating the second expression. In the above examples the last one is the situation where we encounter to use the && operator.

Comparing two different data types

I have self experience with this. When I was a novice in elixir, I just compared "5" > 4 unknowingly by an accident and to my surprise it returned with true.

In Elixir every term can compare with every other term. So one has to be careful in comparisons.

iex> x = "I am x "
"I am x "
iex> x > 34
iex> x > [1,2,3]
iex> [1, 2, 3] < 1234567890

Order of Comparison

number < atom < reference < fun < port < pid < tuple < map < list < bitstring (binary)

Arithmetic Operators as Lambda functions

When I see this first time, I said to my self “Elixir is Crazy”. This tip really saves time and it resembles your smartness. In Elixir every operator is a macro. So, we can use them as lambda functions.

iex> Enum.reduce([1,2,3], 0, &+/2)
iex> Enum.reduce([1,2,3], 0, &*/2)
iex> Enum.reduce([1,2,3], 3, &*/2)
iex> Enum.reduce([1,2,3], 3, &-/2)
iex> Enum.reduce([1,2,3], 3, &//2)

Binary Pattern Matching

This is my recent discovery. I always encounter a situation like converting "$34.56" which is a string and I suppose do arithmetic operations. I usually do something like this before binary pattern matching..

iex> value = "$34.56"
iex ...      |> String.split("$")
iex ...      |> tl
iex ...      |> List.first
iex ...      |> String.to_float

Tip Approach

This tip makes my day easy. I recently used this is in one of my projects.

iex> "$" <> value = "$34.56"
iex> String.to_float value  

Must Know the Differences of Map keys as :atoms and binary(strings)

Before I let you to use this tip, I just want to remind you that :atoms are not garbage collected. Atom keys are great! If you have a defined atoms, you are in no danger. What you should not do is converting user supplied input into atoms without sanitizing them first because it can lead to out of memory. You should also be cautious if you create dynamic atoms in your code.

But, you can use the . to retrieve the data from the keys as map.key unlike the usual notation like map["key"] . That really saves on typing. But, I don’t encourage this because, as programmers we should really care about memory.

iex> map = %{name: "blackode", blog: "medium"}
%{blog: "medium", name: "blackode"}



Be sure that when you try to retrieve a key with . form which is not present in the map, it will raise a key error instead of returning the nil unlike the map["key"] which returns nil if key is not present in a map.

iex> map["age"]
iex> map.age
Bug Bug ..!!** (KeyError) key :age not found in: %{blog: "medium", name: "blackode"}
Bug Bug ..!!

Add Some Color To Your Console Prints

Elixir >=1.4.0 has ANSI color printing option to console. You can have great fun with colors. You can also provide background colors.

iex> import IO.ANSI
iex> IO.puts red <> "red" <> green <> " green" <> yellow <> " yellow" <> reset <> " normal"
iex> IO.puts Enum.join [red, "red", green, " green", yellow, " yellow", reset, " normal"]
red green yellow normal

The red prints in red color, green in green color, yellow in yellow color and normal in white. Have fun with colors…

For more details on color printing check Printex module which I created for fun in Elixir.

Functional Macros as Guard Clauses

We cannot make use of the functions as guard clauses in elixir. It means, when cannot accept custom defined functions. Consider the following lines of code…

defmodule Hello do
  def hello(name, age) when is_kid(age) do
    IO.puts "Hello Kid #{name}"
  def hello(name, age) when is_adult(age) do
    IO.puts "Hello Mister #{name}"
  def is_kid age do
    age < 12
  def is_adult age do
    age > 18

Here we defined a module Hello and a function hello that takes two parameters of name and age. So, based on age I am trying IO.putsaccordingly. If you do so you will get an error saying….

** (CompileError) hello.ex:2: cannot invoke local is_kid/1 inside guard
    hello.ex:2: (module)

This is because when cannot accept functions as guards. We need to convert them to macros Lets do that…

defmodule MyGuards do

  defmacro is_kid age do
    quote do: unquote(age) < 12

  defmacro is_adult age do
    quote do: unquote(age) > 18

# order of module matters here.....
defmodule Hello do

  import MyGuards

  def hello(name, age) when is_kid(age) do
    IO.puts "Hello Kid #{name}"

  def hello(name, age) when is_adult(age) do
    IO.puts "Hello Mister #{name}"

   def hello(name, age) do
    IO.puts "Hello Youth #{name}"


In the above lines of code, we wrapped all our guards inside a module MyGuards and make sure the module is top of the module Hello so, the macros first gets compiled. Now compile and execute you will see the following output..

iex> Hello.hello "blackode", 21
Hello Mister blackode
iex> Hello.hello "blackode", 11
Hello Kid blackode

Starting on Elixir v1.6, you can use defguard/1.

The defguard is also a macro. You can also create private guards with defguardp. Hope, you got the point here. Consider the following example.

NOTE: The defguard and defguardp should reside inside the module like other macros. It raises a compile time error, if some thing that don't fit in the guard clause section when.

Suppose, you want to check the given number is either three or five, you can define the guard as following.

defmodule Number.Guards do
  defguard is_three_or_five(number) when (number===3) or (number===5)


import Number.Guards
defmodule Hello do
  def check_favorite_number(num) when is_three_or_five(num) do
    IO.puts "The given #{num} is on of my favourite numbers"
  def check_favorite_number(_num), do: IO.puts "Not my favorite number"

You can also use them inside your code logic as they results boolean value.

iex> import Number.Guards

iex> is_three_or_five(5)

iex> is_three_or_five(3)

iex> is_three_or_five(1)

Check the following execution screen shot.

Finding whether Module was loaded or not

Sometimes, we have to make sure that certain module is loaded before making a call to the function. We are supposed to ensure the module is loaded.

Code.ensure_loaded? <Module>
iex> Code.ensure_loaded? :kernel
iex> Code.ensure_loaded :kernel
{:module, :kernel}

Similarly we are having ensure_compile to check whether the module is compiled or not…

Converting Binary to Capital Atom

Elixir provides a special syntax which is usually used for module names. What is called a module name is an uppercase ASCII letter followed by any number of lowercase or uppercase ASCII letters, numbers, or underscores.

This identifier is equivalent to an atom prefixed by Elixir. So in the defmodule Blackode example Blackode is equivalent to :"Elixir.Blackode"

When we use String.to_atom "Blackode" it converts it into :Blackode But actually we need something like “Blackode” to Blackode. To do that we need to use Module.concat

iex(2)> String.to_atom "Blackode"
iex(3)> Module.concat Elixir,"Blackode"

In Command line applications whatever you pass they convert it into binary. So, again you suppose to do some casting operations …

Pattern match [ vs ] destructure.

We all know that = does the pattern match for left and right side. We cannot do [a, b, c] = [1, 2, 3, 4] this raise a MatchError

iex(11)> [a, b, c] = [1, 2, 3, 4]
** (MatchError) no match of right hand side value: [1, 2, 3, 4]

We can use destructure/2 to do the job.

iex(1)> destructure [a, b, c], [1, 2, 3, 4]
[1, 2, 3]
iex(2)> {a, b, c}
{1, 2, 3}

If the left side is having more entries than in right side, it assigns the nil value for remaining entries..

iex> destructure([a, b, c], [1])
iex> {a, b, c} 
{1, nil, nil}

The Goodness of Data decoration [ inspect with :label ] option

We can decorate our output with inspect and label option. The string of label is added at the beginning of the data we are inspecting.

iex(1)> IO.inspect [1, 2, 3], label: "the list "
the list : [1, 2, 3]
[1, 2, 3]

If you closely observe this it again returns the inspected data. So, we can use them as intermediate results in |> pipe operations like following……

[1, 2, 3] 
|> IO.inspect(label: "before change") 
|> * 2)) 
|> IO.inspect(label: "after change") 
|> length

You will see the following output

before change: [1, 2, 3]
after change: [2, 4, 6]

Piping Anonymous functions

We can pass the anonymous functions in two ways. One is directly using &like following..

[1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
|> length()
|> (&(&1*&1)).()

This is the most weirdest approach. How ever, we can use the reference of the anonymous function by giving its name.

square = & &1 * &1
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
|> length()
|> square.()

The above style is much better than previous . You can also use fn to define anonymous functions.

Or use Kernel.then/2 function since 1.12.0

[1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
|> length()
|> then(& &1 * &1)

Retrieve Character Integer Codepoints — ?

We can use ? operator to retrieve character integer codepoints.

iex> ?a
iex> ?#

The following two tips are mostly useful for beginners…

Performing Subtraction on Lists

We can perform the subtraction over lists for removing the elements in list.

iex> [1, 2, 3, 4.5] -- [1, 2]
[3, 4.5]
iex> [1, 2, 3, 4.5, 1] -- [1]  
[2, 3, 4.5, 1]
iex> [1, 2, 3, 4.5, 1] -- [1, 1]
[2, 3, 4.5]
iex> [1, 2, 3, 4.5] -- [6]
[1, 2, 3, 4.5]

We can also perform same operations on char lists too..

iex(12)> 'blackode' -- 'ode'
iex(13)> 'blackode' -- 'z'    

If the element to subtract is not present in the list then it simply returns the list.

Running Multiple Mix Tasks

mix do deps.get,compile

You can run multiple tasks by separating them with coma ,

How ever you can also create aliases in your mix project in a file called mix.exs .

The project definition looks like the following way when you create one using a mix tool.

def project do
    [app: :project_name,
     version: "0.1.0",
     elixir: "~> 1.4-rc",
     build_embedded: Mix.env == :prod,
     start_permanent: Mix.env == :prod,
     deps: deps()]

You are also allowed to add some extra fields…

Here you have to add the aliases field.

 aliases: aliases()

Don’t forget to add , at the end when you add this in the middle of list .

The aliases() should return the key-value list.

defp aliases do
    "ecto.setup": ["ecto.create", "ecto.migrate", "ecto.seed"]

So, whenever you run the mix ecto.setup the three tasks ecto.create, ecto.migrate and ecto.seed will run one after the other.

You can also add them directly as following unlike I did with private function.

def project do
    [app: :project_name,
     version: "0.1.0",
     aliases: ["ecto.setup": ["ecto.create", "ecto.migrate", "ecto.seed"]]      

Accessing the Documentation

Elixir stores the documentation inside the bytecode in a memory. You access the documentation with the help of Code.get_docs/2 function . This means, the documentation accessed when it is required, but not when it is loaded in the virtual machine like iex

Suppose you defined a module in memory like ones you defined in IEx, cannot have their documentation accessed as they do not have their bytecode written to disk.

Let us check this…

Create a module with name test.ex with the following code. You can copy and paste it.

defmodule Test do
  @moduledoc """
  This is the test module docs

  @doc """
  This is the documentation of hello function
  def hello do
    IO.puts "hello"

Now stay in the directory where your file exists and run the command

$ iex test.ex

Now you can access the function definitions but not the documentation.

iex> Test.hello

That means the code is compiled but documentation is not stored in the memory. So, you cannot access the docs. Lets check that…

iex> Code.get_docs Hello, :moduledoc

You will see the output as nil when you are trying to access the docs of the module you have created so far. This is because, the bytecode is not available in disk. In simple way beam file is not present. Lets do that...

Press Ctrl+C twice so you will come out of the shell and this time you run the command as

$ elixirc test.ex

After running the command, you will see a file with name Elixir.Test.beam . Now the bytecode for the module Test is available in memory. Now you can access the documentation as follows...

$ iex
iex> Code.get_docs Test, :moduledoc
{3, "This is the test module docs\n"}

The output is tuple with two elements. The first element is the line number of the documentation it starts and second element is the actual documentation in the binary form.

You can read more about this function here

Dynamic Function Name in Elixir Macro

The hack is name of a function should be an atom instead of binary.

defmacro gen_function(fun_name) do
  quote do 
    def unquote(:"#{fun_name}")() do
      # your code...

Printing List as List without ASCII-Encoding

You know that when the list contains all the numbers as ASCII values, it will list out those values instead of the original numbers. Lets check that…

iex> IO.inspect [97, 98]

The code point of a is 97 and b is 98 hence it is listing out them as char_list. However you can tell the IO.inspect to list them as list itself with option char_lists: :as_list .

iex> IO.inspect [97, 98], charlists: :as_lists
[97, 98]

Open iex and type h Inspect.Opts, you will see that Elixir does this kind of thing with other values as well, specifically structs and binaries.

Fetching out file name and line number the expression is on

defmacro __ENV__()

This macro gives the current environment information. You can get the information like current filename line function and others…

iex(4)> __ENV__.file

iex(5)> __ENV__.line

Creating Manual Pids for Unit Testing

You can create the pid manually in Elixir with pid function. This comes with two flavors.

def pid(string)

Creates the pid from the string.

iex> pid("0.21.32")

def pid(a, b, c)

Creates a PID with 3 non negative integers passed as arguments to the function.

iex> pid(0, 21, 32)

Why do you create the pids manually?

Suppose, you are writing a library and you want to test one of your functions for the type pid, then you can create one and test with it.

You cannot create the pid like assigning pid = #PID<0.21.32> because # is considered as comment here.

iex(6)> pid = #PID<0.21.32>

When you do like above, iex shell just wait for more input as #PID<0.21.32> is treated as comment.

Now you enter another data to complete the expression. The entered value is the value of the pid. Lets check that…

iex(6)> pid = #PID<0.21.32>      # here expression is not complete
...(6)> 23    # here we are giving the value 23
23            # expression is complete
iex(7)> pid

Replacing the String with global option

The String.replace function will replace the given the pattern with replacing pattern. By default, it replaces all the occurrences of the pattern. Lets check that…

iex(1)> str = ","    

iex(2)> String.replace str,"@","#"

The String.replace str, "@", "#"is same as String.replace str, "@", "#", global: true

But, if you want to replace only the first occurrence of the pattern, you need to pass the option global: false . So, it replaces only the first occurrence of @ . Lets check that…

iex(3)> String.replace str, "@", "#", global: false

Here only first @ is replaced with #.

Memory Usage

You can check the memory usage (in bytes) with :erlang.memory

iex(1)> :erlang.memory
[total: 16221568, processes: 4366128, processes_used: 4364992, system: 11855440,
 atom: 264529, atom_used: 250685, binary: 151192, code: 5845369, ets: 331768]

However, you can pass option like :erlang.memory :atom to get the memory usage of atoms.

iex(2)> :erlang.memory :atom

Picking out the elements in List

We all know that a proper list is a combination of head and tail like [head | tail] . We can use the same principle for picking out the elements in the list like the following way…

iex> [first, second, third, fourth | _rest] = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]
iex> first
iex> {second, third, fourth}
{2, 3, 4}

The combination effect of get_in /Access.all()

We all know that the get_in function is used to extract the key which is deeper inside the map by providing the list with keys like a following way…

iex> user = %{"name" => {"first_name" => "blackode", "last_name" => "john" }}
%{"name" => %{"first_name" => "blackode", "last_name" => "john"}}
iex > get_in user, ["name", "first_name"]

But, if there is a list of maps [maps] where you have to extract first_name of the each map, generally we go for enum . We can also achieve this by using the get_in and Access.all()

iex> users=[%{"user" => %{"first_name" => "john", "age" => 23}},
            %{"user" => %{"first_name" => "hari", "age" => 22}},
            %{"user" => %{"first_name" => "mahesh", "age" => 21}}]
# that is a list of maps 
iex> get_in users, [Access.all(), "user", "age"]
[23, 22, 21]

iex> get_in users, [Access.all(), "user", "first_name"]
["john", "hari", "mahesh"]

Note: If the key is not present in map, then it returns nil Warning: When you use the get_in along with Access.all() , as the first value in the list of keys like above, the users datatype should be list. If you pass the map, it returns the error.

iex(17)> list = [%{name: "john"}, %{name: "mary"}, %{age: 34}]
[%{name: "john"}, %{name: "mary"}, %{age: 34}]
iex(18)> get_in(list, [Access.all(), :name])
["john", "mary", nil]

In the above lines of code returns the nil for key which is not in the map.

iex(19)> get_in(%{name: "blackode"}, [Access.all(), :name])
** (RuntimeError) Access.all/0 expected a list, got: %{name: "blackode"}
    (elixir) lib/access.ex:567: Access.all/3

In the above lines of code returns the error for passing map .

However, you can change the position of the Access.all() in the list. But the before key should return the list. Check the following lines of code.

Deep Dive

We can also use the Access.all() with functions like update_in, get_and_update_in, etc.. For instance, given a user with a list of books, here is how to deeply traverse the map and convert all book names to uppercase:

iex> user = %{name: "john", books: [%{name: "my soul", type: "tragedy"}, %{name: "my heart", type: "romantic"}, %{name: "my enemy", type: "horror"}]}
iex> update_in user, [:books, Access.all(), :name], &String.upcase/1
%{books: [%{name: "MY SOUL", type: "tragedy"}, %{name: "MY HEART", type: "romantic"}, %{name: "MY ENEMY", type: "horror"}], name: "john"}
iex> get_in user, [:books, Access.all(), :name]
["my soul", "my heart", "my enemy"]

Here, user is not a list unlike in the previous examples where we passed the users as a list. But, we changed the position of Access.all() and inside the list of keys [:books, Access.all(), :name], the value of the key :books should return the list, other wise it raises an error.

Data Comprehension along with filters using FOR

We achieve the data comprehension through for x <- [1, 2, 3], do: x + 1 . But we can also add the comprehension along with filter.

General Usage

iex> for x <- [1, 2, 3, 4], do: x + 1
[2, 3, 4, 5]
# that is how we use in general lets think out of the box

With filters

Here I am using two lists of numbers and cross product over the lists and filtering out the product which is a odd number.

iex> for x <- [1, 2, 3, 4], y <- [5, 6, 7, 8], rem(x * y, 2) == 0, do: {x, y, x * y}
[{1, 5, 5}, {1, 7, 7}, {3, 5, 15}, {3, 7, 21}]
#here rem(x * y, 2) is acting as a filter.

Comprehension with binary strings.

Comprehension with binary is little different. You supposed to wrap inside <<>>

Lets check that…

iex> b_string = <<"blackode">>
iex> for << x <- b_string >>, do: x + 1
#here it is printing out the letter after every letter in the "blackode"

Did you observe that x <- b_string is just changed something like << x <- b_string >> to make the sense.

Advanced Comprehension

Here we are taking the elixir comprehension to the next level. We read the input from the keyboard and convert that to upcase and after that it should wait for another entry.

for x <-, :line), into:, :line), do: String.upcase(x)

Basically, :line) will the read a line input from the keyboard.

iex> for x <-, :line), into:, :line), do: String.upcase(x)
who are you?
^c ^c # to break

Single Line Multiple module aliasing

We can also alias multiple modules in one line:

alias Hello.{One,Two,Three}

#The above line is same as the following 
alias Hello.One
alias Hello.Two
alias Hello.Three

Importing Underscore Functions from a Module

By default the functions with _ are not imported. However, you can do that by importing them with :only explicitly.

import File.Stream, only: [__build__: 3]

Extracting Project Information

Mix.Project.config[:version] # returns the version
Mix.Project.config[:app] # returns app name

Inner Binary Representation of String

This is a common trick in elixir . You have to concatenate the null byte <<0>> to a string that you want to see its inner binary representation like in the following way…

iex> “hello” <> <<0>>
<<104, 101, 108, 108, 111, 0>>

Multiple Bindings of a value

iex> x = y = z = 5
iex> x
iex> y
iex> z

See this in action here...

Not Null implementation in Structs

This is much like adding a not null constraint to the structs. When you try to define the struct with the absence of that key in the struct, it should raise an exception. Lets do that… You have to use @enforce_keys [<keys>] while defining the struct…

# Defining struct
defmodule Employee do
   @enforce_keys [:salary]
   defstruct name: nil, salary: nil
# Execution 
iex> employee = %Employee{name: "blackode"} # Error 
iex> employee = %Employee{name: "blackode",salary: 12345}
%Employee{name: "john", salary: 12345}

Warning Keep in mind @enforce_keys is a simple compile-time guarantee to aid developers when building structs. It is not enforced on updates and it does not provide any sort of value-validation. The above warning is from the ORIGINAL DOCUMENTATION

Check Whether Function is Exported or not

Elixir provides function_exported?/3 to achieve this…

# Defining the module with one exported function and private one
defmodule Hello do
  def hello name do
   IO.puts name
  defp hellop name do
    IO.puts name 
# Execution Copy and paste above lines of code in iex> 
iex> function_exported? Hello, :hello,1
iex> function_exported? Hello, :hellop, 1

Splitting the string with multiple Patterns

We all know how to split a string with String.split/2 function. But you can also pass a pattern to match that over and over and splitting the string whenever it matches the pattern.

"Hello Blackode! Medium-is-5*"

If you observe the above string, it comprises of two blank spaces , one exclamation mark ! , two minus — symbols - and a asterisk * symbol. Now we are going to split that string with all of those.

string = "Hello Blackode! Medium-is-5*"
String.split string, [" ", "!", "-", "*"]
["Hello", "Blackode", "", "Medium", "is", "5", ""]

The pattern is generated at run time. You can still validate with :binary.compiled

Checking the closeness of strings

You can find the distance between the two strings using String.jaro_distance/2. This gives a float value in the range 0..1 Taking the 0 for no close and 1 is for exact closeness.

iex> String.jaro_distance "ping", "pong"

iex> String.jaro_distance "color", "colour"
iex> String.jaro_distance "foo", "foo"

For the FUN, you can find your closeness with your name and your partner or lover in case if aren’t married. Hey… ! I am just kidding…. It is just an algorithm which is predefined where our love is undefined. Cheers …….. :)

Executing code Immediately after loading a Module

Elixir provides @on_load which accepts atom as function name in the same module or a tuple with function_name and its arity like {function_name, 0}.

#Hello module 
defmodule Hello do
@on_load :onload     # this executes after module gets loaded 
  def onload do
    IO.puts "#{__MODULE__} is loaded successfully"
# Execution .... Just copy and paste the code in the iex terminal
# You will see the output something like this ....
Elixir.Hello is loaded successfully  
{:module, Hello,
 <<70, 79, 82, 49, 0, 0, 4, 72, 66, 69, 65, 77, 65, 116, 85, 56, 0, 0, 0, 130,
   0, 0, 0, 12, 12, 69, 108, 105, 120, 105, 114, 46, 72, 101, 108, 108, 111, 8,
   95, 95, 105, 110, 102, 111, 95, 95, 9, ...>>, {:onload, 0}}

Chain of [ or ] ’ s in guard clauses with when

This is about multiple guards in the same clause and writing or conditions with out using or We all know that or is used as a conjunction for two conditions resulting true if either one of them is true. Many of us writing the or conditions in the guard as following way…

def print_me(thing) when is_integer(thing) or is_float(thing) or is_nil(thing), do: "I am a number"

You can also do this in bit more clear format as the following way…

def print_me(thing)
  when is_integer(thing)
  when is_float(thing)
  when is_nil(thing) do
 "I am a number "

See also Elixir Style Guide

Prett Printing of a quoted Expression

Macro.to_string |> IO.puts

In general, when you pass the quote expression to Macro.to_string , it returns the actual code in a string format and we all knew this.

The weird thing is, it gives the output in a single line along with characters inside the string.

Check it down

    iex(2)> q = quote do
    ...(2)> 1+2
    ...(2)> name = "blackode"
    ...(2)> end

    {:__block__, [],
       {:+, [context: Elixir, import: Kernel], [1, 2]},
       {:=, [], [{:name, [], Elixir}, "blackode"]}

    iex(3)> Macro.to_string q
    "(\n  1 + 2\n  name = \"blackode\"\n)"

To print the new lines, you pipe the string output from Macro.to_string to IO.puts like in the following code snippet. It gives the clean output by printing in new line.

    iex(4)> Macro.to_string(q) |> IO.puts
      1 + 2
      name = "blackode"

Check this in live

Finding the loaded files in iex and dynamic loading files on-fly

  1. Finding the loaded files


In elixir, we are having a definition loaded_files in the module Code used to find the loaded files.

Let’s see this.

Run the command iex inside your terminal and call the function Code.loaded_files .

It gives an empty list [] as output because we haven’t loaded any files so far.

    $ iex
    iex> Code.loaded_files

File Loading

Let’s create a file hello.ex with a single function definition hello which just prints a string “Welcome to the world” for the demo purpose.

    # hello.ex

    defmodule Hello do
      def hello do
        IO.puts "Welcome to the world"

Save the file after editing.

Now, make sure you are in the same directory of where the file exists and run the command

    $ iex hello.ex

It opens the Elixir interactive shell by loading the hello.ex file as well.

Now, you can see the loaded file by calling Code.loaded_files . It outputs the path to the file.

    iex> Code.loaded_files

That is one way of loading files. You can also load them on-fly in iex session

Dynamic loading on-fly


Unlike loading files with iex hello.ex , you can load them on-fly in iexsession with the help of Code.load_file "path/to/file" .

Let us assume that we have a file hello.ex in our current directory and open iex session from the same directory.

    $ iex

    iex> Code.load_file "hello.ex"
       <<70, 79, 82, 49, 0, 0, 4, 72, 66, 69, 65, 77, 65, 116, 85, 56, 0, 0, 0, 140,
         0, 0, 0, 15, 12, 69, 108, 105, 120, 105, 114, 46, 72, 101, 108, 108, 111,
         8, 95, 95, 105, 110, 102, 111, 95, 95, 9, ...>>}

Let's check this in action

Making Providing deprecation reason


You might be noticed the warnings of using deprecated functions in a library along with some useful hint text. Today, we build this from scratch.

Suppose, you have written a library and want to update the name of one function in your next build release and if the user tried to access the old function then you have to warn him of using deprecated function instead of updated one.

To see this in action, you need to create new mix project.

Let’s do that.

    mix new hello

Next change the directory to the project created.

    cd hello

Now, edit the file lib/hello.ex in the project with the following code


    defmodule Hello do
      def hello do 

    defmodule Printee do

      @deprecated "print/0 is deprecated use show/0" 
      def print do
        IO.puts "hello blackode"

      def show do
        IO.puts "hello blackode"


This file comprises of two modules Hello and Printee . The Printee module comprises of two functions print/0 and show/0 . Here purposely, print/0 is considered as a deprecated function used inside the Hello module.

The mix compiler automatically looks for calls to deprecated modules and emit warnings during compilation.

So, when you compile the project mix compile, it gives a warning saying

“print/0 is deprecated use show/0”

like in the following screenshot.

Deprecated Function Warning

Check the live coding

Module Creation with create function


As we all know defmodule is used to create a module. In similar, Module.create/3 is also used to create a module.

The only difference in defining a module with Module.create/3 is the definition inside the module is quoted expression.

However, we can use the help of quote to create a quoted expression.

We have to pass three parameters to Moduel.create .

The first one is name of the module. The second one is module definition in quoted expression. The third one is location. The location is given in keyword list like [file: String.t, line: Integer ] or else you can just take the help of Macro.Env.location(__ENV__) which returns the same.

location of loc

    iex> module_definition = quote do: def hello, do: IO.puts "hello"

The above line of code gives the context of the module definition and collected in module_definition . We can use this module_defintion to pass as second parameter to Module.create/3 function.

module definition context

Let’s put all together and see the magic

    iex(8)> Module.create Hello, module_definition, [file: "iex", line: 8 ]

Creating another module Foo with same module function

    iex(10)> Module.create Foo, module_definition, Macro.Env.location(__ENV__)

Check out the live execution

Finding the list of bound values in iex


    iex> binding
    iex> name = "blackode"
    iex> blog = "medium"
    iex> binding
    [blog: "medium", name: "blackode"]

This is used in debugging purpose inside the function.

It is also very common to use IO.inspect/2 with binding(), which returns all variable names and their values:

def fun(a, b) do
  IO.inspect binding()

When fun/2 is invoked with :laughing, "time" it prints:

[a: :laughing, b: "time"]

You can also give context to the binding

If the given context is nil *(by default it is), *the binding for the current context is returned.

    iex> var!(x, :foo) = 1
    iex> binding(:foo)
    [x: 1]

Check out the live execution

Fun with Char_Lists

We can convert any integer to charlist using Integer.char_list . It can be used in two ways either passing the base the base value or not passing.

Let’s try with base and with out base.

without base

    iex> Integer.to_charlist(882681651)

with base

    iex> Integer.to_charlist(882681651, 36)

Try your own names as well and find your value with base

    iex> List.to_integer 'BLACKODE', 36

    iex> Integer.to_charlist(908344015970, 36)

Universal Code base formatter

Code formatting is easy now with the help of mix task mix format. It will take care of all you care about cleaning and refactoring as well. It can assure a clean code base or simply universal code base which maintains some useful standards. This really saves a lot of time.

    mix format filename

To know more about the codebase formatting, check out my recent article on

[Code Formatter The Big Feature in Elixir


which explains all about using mix format task and its configuration in detail with screen shots of vivid examples.

Replacing a Key in Map

I know, you might be thinking why some one would do that. I too had the same feeling until I met with a requirement in one of my previous projects where I was asked to replace address1 with address and some other keys as well. It is a huge one. I have to do change many keys as well.

I’m here with a simple map to keep it understandable. But, the technique is same.

The thing to remember is; be smart and stay long;

details = %{name: "john", address1: "heaven", mobile1: "999999999"}

The above map comprises of two weird keys address1 and mobile1 where we do workout on to take over them.

iex> details = %{name: "john", address1: "heaven", mobile1: "999999999"}
%{address1: "heaven", mobile1: "999999999", name: "john"}

iex>, fn  
  {:address1, address} -> {:address, address}
  {:mobile1, mobile} -> {:phone, mobile} 
  x -> x 

%{address: "heaven", name: "john", phone: "999999999"} #output

What’s the magic here❓

Nothing , just pattern_matching, the boon for functional programmers. The magic lies inside and the anonymous function where we used our magic band to see the actual logic.

Filtering With match?

As we know, Enum.filter will do the job based on the evaluation of a condition. But still, we can use the pattern to filter things.

Let me make you clear with the following example.

I have a list of users where their names are mapped to their preferred programming language.

iex> user_and_programming_languages = 
 %{john: "elixir", latha: "elixir", hari: "erlang", toy: "perl"}

%{hari: "erlang", john: "elixir", latha: "elixir", toy: "perl"}

Like above, the user_names are mapped with their languages. Now, our job is to filter the users of elixir language.

Just let me know which one you do prefer after checking out the following…

iex> user_and_programming_languages |>
Enum.filter(fn {_, lang} -> lang=="elixir" end )

[john: "elixir", latha: "elixir"]  

OR, using match? for pattern based

user_and_programming_languages = 
 %{john: "elixir", latha: "elixir", hari: "erlang", toy: "perl"}

user_and_programming_languages |>
Enum.filter(&match?({_, "elixir"}, &1) )

[john: "elixir", latha: "elixir"]  

Checkout the screenshots of evaluation

I took the simpler lines of code to give a demo of using match? but, it’s usages are limit less. Just think about the pattern and match over it. Think out of the box guys. But don’t blow up your mind and don’t blame me for that.

Warning: ⚠️

Make sure of your pattern as the first parameter to the match? otherwise, you have to pay for the compiler. Just kidding 😃

iex> user_and_programming_languages |>
Enum.filter(&match?(&1, {_, "elixir"},) )

Bangpipe <|> Left and Right

As we know elixir is free language, where you can build anything you need. But, be careful It is just to show you something is achievable.

It is a LEFT and RIGHT Pipe

We usually end up with some sort of results in the format {:ok, result} . This can be found anywhere in your project sooner or later.

If you pipe it to the function obviously you will end up with an unknown expectation. I am talking about run-time errors. Our |> is not smart enough to check it for whether is a direct result or {:ok, result} .

Let’s build it for the GOD sake but not for your client.

⚠️ Don’t use this ever and don’t do write macros until you write new framework.

iex> defmodule Bangpipe do
  defmacro left <|> right do
    quote do
      |> case do
        {:ok, val} -> val 
        val -> val
      |> unquote(right)

This Bangpipe I mean <|> is defined to do the task. Before sending the result to the function in right, it is performing the pattern matching over the result to identify what kinda result it is. I hope you understood what actually the result I am talking about. The Secret behind Elixir Operator Re-Definitions : + to - *Just for Fun*

We can also do re definitions on elixir operators. Check above URL.

How to use ❓

Just import Bangpipe the left-right pipe will be loaded. Copy and paste to experience it in live and fast into iex

iex[6]  import Bangpipe

iex[7]  data = {:ok, [1,2,3,4,5]} 
{:ok, [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]}

iex[8]  data <|> length

“Good programmers write the code & great programmers steal the code” This tip is copied from the Elixir Lightening Talk

*Bangpipe <|> execution*

Finding the function callers in a project.

Let’s create a brief story here.

The moment when GOD’S against you, your manager will come and give you a vast legacy project code and asked you to find out all the places where a particular function is called. In a sentence, the callers of a particular function.

What will you do? I don’t think it is a smart way of surfing in each and every file. I don’t. So, you don’t.

mix xref callers Module.function


mix xref callers Poison.decode

Prints all callers of the given CALLEE, which can be one of: Module, Module.function, or Module.function/arity.


mix xref callers ***Module***
mix xref callers ******
mix xref callers ******

mix xref callers Poison.decode

You can add function arity to be more specific, in this case mix xref callers Poison.decode/1 .

BOOM ! Now, you can surprise the manager with results before he reaches his cabin. Be fast and smart.

I solely experienced this when my co-worker I better say co-programmer asked for help regarding the situation but there's no manager in my case.

Explore more about xref

mix help **xref**

Using Enum.group_by beyohnd Grouping of things

I have a collection of hotel_bookings and I need to group them based on their booking status.

To keep this simple, I am just using some false random collection.

iex> hotel_bookings = [ 
%{name: "John", country: "usa", booking_status: :success},
%{name: "Hari", country: "india", booking_status: :fail},
%{name: "Mahesh", country: "austria", booking_status: :pending},
%{name: "Ruchi", country: "paris", booking_status: :success},
%{name: "Nitesh", country: "malasia", booking_status: :success},
%{name: "Manoj", country: "japan", booking_status: :fail},
%{name: "Akhilesh", country: "china", booking_status: :pending},
%{name: "Rajesh", country: "india", booking_status: :fail},
%{name: "Payal", country: "london", booking_status: :success},
%{name: "Kumar", country: "france", booking_status: :fail}

Let’s group the things.

iex> Enum.group_by(hotel_bookings, &Map.get(&1, :booking_status))
  fail: [
    %{booking_status: :fail, country: "india", name: "Hari"},
    %{booking_status: :fail, country: "japan", name: "Manoj"},
    %{booking_status: :fail, country: "india", name: "Rajesh"},
    %{booking_status: :fail, country: "france", name: "Kumar"}
  pending: [
    %{booking_status: :pending, country: "austria", name: "Mahesh"},
    %{booking_status: :pending, country: "china", name: "Akhilesh"}
  success: [
    %{booking_status: :success, country: "usa", name: "John"},
    %{booking_status: :success, country: "paris", name: "Ruchi"},
    %{booking_status: :success, country: "malasia", name: "Nitesh"}, 
    %{booking_status: :success, country: "london", name: "Payal"}

This is well and good but I need only name in the list instead of map. I mean some thing like %{fail: ["Hari", "Manoj"], ...}

We just need to tell the group_by what to return in return of grouping

iex>  Enum.group_by(hotel_bookings, &Map.get(&1, :booking_status), &Map.get(&1, :name))
  fail: ["Hari", "Manoj", "Rajesh", "Kumar"],
  pending: ["Mahesh", "Akhilesh"],
  success: ["John", "Ruchi", "Nitesh", "Payal"]

Running only failed tests

mix test --failed

Inspecting Only Derived Elements in Structs

We can limit the keys to print while we inspect structs using @derive attribute.

Don’t believe, check it down

defmodule Address do  
	@derive {Inspect, only: [:name, :country]}  
	defstruct [name: "john", street: "2nd lane", door_no: "12-3", state: "mystate", country: "My Country"  ]

iex> %Address{}
#Address<country: "My Country", name: "john", ...>  #OUTPUT

Enumeration & Merging two maps

Let’s consider we have a requirement to modify a map and need to merge the modified map with some other map. API developers always face this situation like modifying the response according to the client.

Consider the following two maps user and location

user = %{name: "blackode", publication: "medium", age: 25}
location = %{latitude: 38.8951, longitude:  -77.0364}

Now, we have a requirement to modify the keys for location map from latitude to lat and longitude to long. After map modification, the modified map has to merge into user map.

Just to convey the idea, I am using a map with fewer number of key-value pairs.

Before, I was doing followed by Enum.into/2 followed by Map.merge/2

Don’t Do

|> {:latitude, lat} -> {:lat, lat}
               {:longitude, long} -> {:long, long} 
|> Enum.into(%{}) #as map gives keyword list
|> Map.merge(user)

We can simply achieve this using alone Enum.into/3


Enum.into(location, user, fn 
  {:latitude, lat} -> {:lat, lat}
  {:longitude, long} -> {:long, long} 

Finding System Schedulers available count


You can also check online schedulers like


You can type in your terminal not iex print the number of processing units available using the command nproc

$ nproc

Finding Message Queue Length of a Process

We can know queue length of a process using, :message_queue_len)

Let’s check that

iex> send self, :hello
iex> send self, :hi

Above lines will send two messages to the current process. As we did not write any receive block here, they keep waiting inside mailbox queue.

Now we will check the messages queue length of the current process self

iex>, :message_queue_len)
{:message_queue_len, 2}

Now we handle one message using receive block and will check the queue length once again.

iex> receive do: (:hello -> "I GOT HELLO")

iex>, :message_queue_len)
{:message_queue_len, 1}

Did you see that, we have only one message in queue as we handled :hello message.

Again, we handle the left over message :hi and this time the length will be 0 Of course it will be as there are no more messages to handle.

iex> receive do: (:hi -> "I GOT HI")

iex>, :message_queue_len)
{:message_queue_len, 0}

Loading project Module aliases (.iex.exs)

We always try to execute the project module functions in iex interactive shell to check its behavior.

Sometimes, our module names will be lengthy to type. Of course, we can type alias in iex but it vanishes every time you restart the iex shell and you have to type the aliases once again.

Create .iex.exs file in the project root directory and add all aliases to the file.

Whenever you start iex shell, it looks for .iex.exs file in the current working folder . So, it creates all the aliases in the .iex.exs file.

If file isn’t exist in the current directory, then it looks in your home directory i.e ~/.iex.exs.

Finding N slowest tests in mix application

mix test --slowest N  # N is integerexamplemix test --slowest 3

Replace N with any integer value then it prints timing information for the N slowest tests.

It automatically adds--t