How does rebar escriptize work?

2015-10-21 08:29:00 +0000

Hello World

You can create Erlang scripts quite simply. Just create a file something like the following:

#!/usr/bin/env escript

main(_Args) ->
    io:format("Hello World~n").

Then run it:

escript hello


chmod +x hello

rebar escriptize

If you want to include multiple Erlang modules in your script, you can take advantage of the fact that escript allows loading from an embedded ZIP resource.

This is what the rebar escriptize command does. You can create a skeleton application using rebar:

Note: I’m using rebar 2 in these examples.

# Create the skeleton application:
rebar create-app appid=hello

# Remove the boilerplate:
rm src/hello_app.erl src/hello_sup.erl

# Remove the {mod, {hello_app, ...}} line from the .app.src file:
sed -i '/{mod.*}/d' src/

You need to create an entry point in src/hello.erl:


main(_Args) ->

For demonstration purposes, I’ve created another module:


world() ->
    "Hello World!~n".

Compile it using rebar compile escriptize; run it with ./hello.


The useful part about using rebar is that it can manage dependencies for you. For example, if we needed to load some JSON, we might want to use mochijson2. To do this, create rebar.config:

  {mochijson2, ".*",
   {git, ""}}

{escript_incl_apps, [mochijson2]}.

Update hello.erl to use a new module:


main([Path] = _Args) ->
    io:format("~s~n", [hello_json:from_file(Path)]).

Create the hello_json.erl file:


from_file(Path) ->
    {ok, JSON} = file:read_file(Path),
    {struct, Props} = mochijson2:decode(JSON),
    proplists:get_value(<<"greeting">>, Props).

And, to save typing, a Makefile:

    rebar get-deps compile escriptize

Create a sample world.json file:

{"greeting": "Hello World!"}

Compile and run it:

make && ./hello world.json

How does that work, then?

The hello script actually looks like this:

#!/usr/bin/env escript
%%! -pa hello/hello/ebin

…where PK is the ZIP file magic number. That is: it’s got a shebang header, some escript directives and then everything else is attached as a ZIP file. What’s in the ZIP file?

$ unzip -l hello
Archive:  hello
warning [hello]:  51 extra bytes at beginning or within zipfile
  (attempting to process anyway)
  Length      Date    Time    Name
---------  ---------- -----   ----
        0  2015-10-21 10:13   hello/
        0  2015-10-21 10:13   hello/ebin/
      240  2015-10-21 10:13   hello/ebin/
      944  2015-10-21 10:13   hello/ebin/hello.beam
      812  2015-10-21 10:13   hello/ebin/hello_greetings.beam
     1144  2015-10-21 10:13   hello/ebin/hello_json.beam
        0  2015-10-21 10:13   mochijson2/
        0  2015-10-21 10:13   mochijson2/ebin/
      234  2015-10-21 10:13   mochijson2/ebin/
    43544  2015-10-21 10:13   mochijson2/ebin/mochijson2.beam
    16100  2015-10-21 10:13   mochijson2/ebin/mochinum.beam
---------                     -------
    63018                     11 files

We can do that ourselves!

You don’t need rebar escriptize to do this; it’s quite simple to write an escriptize script. See for example.