[erlang-questions] Building, Packaging and Installing

Tim Watson watson.timothy@REDACTED
Tue May 8 11:49:19 CEST 2012

On 8 May 2012 08:43, Tobias Schlager <Tobias.Schlager@REDACTED> wrote:
> I know that this is not a very popular opinion but to me it sounds like what you're looking for is pretty close to what maven delivers:

We used maven and the maven-erlang-plugin for a long time in my
previous job - it worked very well.

> * binary-based packaging

I think for a package or dependency manager, this is a given -
otherwise you're reinventing too many other things at once. Unlike
maven, I think what we want here is either a package manager or
(simpler) a dependency manager - not another build tool.

> * well-defined dependency management (handling version conflicts)
> * (open source) repository managers (e.g. sonatype nexus)

Eric Merrit and I have tabled a design that uses git, so you can host
your personal/organisational repository on github and consumers simply
add your repository to their local index.

> * group id concept (could be used to avoid clashes when forking github projects)

Yes we very much need this to support multiple forks of the same
application name.

> * support for continuous integration (e.g. jenkins)

To my mind, this is a corollary theme and not central to this
discussion, but yes, clearly people want this.

> * a manifest file (pom.xml)

Sure, and you and I both know that almost nobody on this list is going
to settle for xml. There is a maven extension that supports defining
the pom using scala/grooxy instead, but again, I doubt it'll get much
love here.

> * built-in support for documentation and reporting

No - this is the build tool's responsibility and AFAICT that is *not*
what we're talking about here.

> * support for code/package signing

Yes very much so, especially to get around a problem that maven
doesn't actually solve particularly well. When Project-X is available
in source only form and not built of packaged in a way that the tool
understands, what do we do???

In the maven world, you build it locally and do `mvn deploy:file ...`
to put it into your local repository and perhaps push it into a
corporate/group nexus instance. But there is *no indication of the
original of this file* when you do that, so trust is difficult to

What I'd like to see is support for a kind of 'third party signing'
where you build + package the missing app yourself, sign it with your
own private key and publish it into your own repository, which gets
synchronised back onto github. Eventually someone else *might* decide
they want to use it, and if they cannot persuade the original author
to publish his own binary artefact repository (for whatever reason)
then they may choose to either package and sign it themselves, OR to
utilize the version that you have packaged and signed, because the
know and trust you.

I would, for example, consider using a published artefact that has
been signed by basho or esl, because I trust them not to publish
garbage or malicious code, given that doing so would implicitly damage
their corporate reputation.

> Of course there are certain drawbacks like:
> * not written in erlang (its written in java)

I suspect this is why it'll not see much traction in the community at large.

> * requires a certain amount of (static) xml configuration

As I mentioned earlier, there are alternatives.

> * poor support for building native code

Actually the C/C++ build plugins for maven are pretty good, but I'm
not sure how capable the maven-erlang-plugin is at doing this. Perhaps
the author could chime in and let us know?

> * slower than other tools

It's about the same speed as most of the make based projects I've
seen. Rebar is MUCH faster though!

> Currently, everyone is hot to re-implement all this in erlang and that's perfectly ok, I just wanted to throw in another point of view.

Another thing I'd like to point at at this juncture is that there is a
difference between a package manager and a dependency manager. A very
important point here is that a package manager will allow you to
install AND uninstall software, whereas a dependency manager will
fetch artefacts and solve dependency graphs in order for you to
utilise them, but nothing more.

The other thing I want to point out is that with binary artefacts, you
need to be able to install them once and use them across multiple
(compatible) erts versions, which is something Eric and I have
discussed at some length on the erlware-questions mailing list.

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