Erlang

Erlang Installer: A Better Way To Use Erlang On OSX

2016-09-22 by Karol Urbanski

Back in 2013, I joined Erlang Solutions to work on providing something more convenient for Erlang developers than self-compiled bundles of OTP apps. I'm happy to say that in that time, we've managed to significantly improve the ease of deploying Erlang on a variety of systems, especially variants of Linux.

More recently, we've decided to make obtaining Erlang/OTP as painless as possible on OS X. To that end, we've recruited the wonderful people at Inaka Networks to help us create a better, slicker version of the Erlang Solutions OS X Installer.

Motivation for changes

The previous iteration of the Installer supports auto-updating when a new version comes out.

This can be a very useful feature for the people who like to stay on the cutting edge, but a lot of serious developers like to stick to an older version they know is supported by the software they are using. Moreover, looking around our own company, we have noticed people forgo downloading our own Installer because it does not offer an indispensable feature: the ability to quickly switch between different versions. To many devs, it is important to be able to switch to an old Erlang version in order to test a patch on a legacy system, before quickly popping back to 19.0. Some people keep 4-5 different versions of Erlang on their machine! This is why we've decided to change the ESL Installer to allow this kind of feature, while incorporating changes that will make the app feel more modern.

Installation

Installation of the new ESL Installer is as easy as downloading and then drag&dropping it into your Applications folder.

The app will show up in the tray, and its preferences can be accessed through the OS X System Preferences.

Usage

When clicked, the tray icon expands a menu that allows you to download releases, start a shell with one of the releases you already downloaded, force a check for new releases or updates, and to quickly access the preferences.

Downloading releases

The Releases tab of the installer allows you install or uninstall various versions of Erlang. At release, we will be providing the newest version of each numbered release since R15; if you find the list is missing a version you would like to be there let us know and we'll try to provide it for you!

Settings

The General tab of the Installer allows you to setup your preferences, including the default terminal and release you'd like to use, automatic checks for updates and automatically starting the Installer on system boot, all to ensure you stay up to date with new things in the world of Erlang.

Other perks

The new Installer app should now look more similar to the other OS X apps you know and love, and instead of an ugly, annoying popup you should now be getting much less obstructive notifications.

Download link

To try out the new Installer, go to the direct link on our webpage.

In conclusion

We're hoping that the release of this new, more comprehensive ESL installer will convince some of the developers who previously found it lacking features to try it out again and see if it improves their Erlang coding experience. If you have any suggestions on features you'd like to see or improvements you think we can make, give us a note at packages@erlang-solutions.com.

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