[erlang-questions] escript lives

Joe Armstrong <>
Thu Oct 5 10:22:10 CEST 2006

I have made escript work again. 'twas lost - but now it is found.

Escript is a scripting interface to Erlang (see the history below)

Questions: This is tested only on Solaris and bash on R11B

The script bit needs some funny quoting that may not work on other systems.

I would be grateful if you could let me know of any abnormalities that occur
on other platforms -
also if any windows users can run this I'd like to know what you think the
best way to
set this up is.

1) 3-april-2001

   Joe Armstrong amd Robert Virding write escript.

   This is a pure erlang applications that allows erlang modules
   to be used as scripts:


    ./factorial 123
        factorial 123 = 1214630436702532967576624324188129585545

   The file factorial contains the following:

        #!/usr/bin/env escript

        %% Usage:
        %%   factorial <Int>

        %% Example of an interpreted script


        main([X]) ->
            case (catch list_to_integer(X)) of
            {'EXIT', _} ->
            J ->
                N = fac(J),
                io:format("factorial ~w = ~w~n",[J, N])
        main(_) ->

        usage() ->
            io:format("Usage factorial <Int>~n").

        fac(0) -> 1;
        fac(N) ->
            N * fac(N-1).

2) Escript has a rather long startup time

    time ./factorial 1
    real    0m0.745s

   So I investigated why. The reason has to do with code loading ...

3) I wrote SAE - stand-alone Erlang to solve this
   Then I implemented escript in SAE

   escript with SAE started very quickly (0.0N) seconds (ish)

4) Integration of SAE with the standard release was pretty difficult
   (lots of modules have to be changed)

5) SAE never made it into the main release - but parts of it
   found there way into the bootstrap compiler.

6) escript ran for a while on SAE - but every new release
   of ERlang required major effort to get it running again.

7) Escript stops working on the latest version of the system,
   because it now depends upon SAE which is broken.


8) I stop using escript and forget about it.

9) I start writing a book. <<The book please buy it>>.

10) I want to describe loads of *useful* and little known tools.

11) I want make sure that escript works.

12) I google escript - since Iäve now *lost* the code

13) Google finds escript on MY web site (holy cows) - irony yes.

    This is the old "pure-erlang" version "pre SAE"

14) I compile this version

    It is broken.

    It depends upon a hacked version of erl_eval
    this needs syncing with the latest version.

15) I look at the latest version of erl_eval

    I find this comment:

    %% Is used by standalone Erlang (escript).
        %% Also used by shell.erl.

    I suspect that erl_eval.erl is "up to date" with my hacked version,
    I check - it is.

16) I wonder.

    "is escript" in the *current* system?

17) I check

    yes - it's in erts/boot/src/escript.erl

18) Does it work?


19) I fix it

    It works

20) Is it installed by default?


21) Is it documented


22) I fix it - fix the documentation
    and post to the Erlang list

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