Generic setup utility for Erlang-based systems
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Setup - Generic setup utility for Erlang-based systems

Setup is a simple utility meant to support a structured setup of Erlang-based applications. It addresses the problem that there is no standard way to perform common tasks like initialize mnesia, create tables, populate the database, etc.

My recommendation is to run setup from a "load-only" script, such as can be created using the setup_gen module. This means that all applications are loaded, all paths are set, and the sys.config file has been read. In short, all things are prepared for running setup commands.

The setup application, when started, searches for a special environment variable, '$setup_hooks' in each loaded application. Each setup hook must specify a "setup phase number", and an {M,F,A} tuple.

More precisely, this is the structure of the '$setup_hooks' variable:

{'$setup_hooks', [{PhaseNo, [ {M,F,A} ]}]}

The setup application doesn't care what type PhaseNo has, but I suggest sticking to integers. All found setup hooks will be sorted by PhaseNo, and all callbacks related to each given phase will be called in sequence before moving on to the next phase.

To begin establishing a convention, I suggest the following:

PhaseNo Action
100 Create database
200 Create tables / Configure schema
300 Populate database

That is, if you have an application that needs to create some mnesia tables, it can specify a setup hook for phase no 200, knowing that the mnesia schema will have been created (by someone) by that time.

{'$setup_hooks', [{200, {my_setup_mod, create_tables, []}}]}

If it also needs to populate the database with some initial data, it can add another hook for phase no 300, knowing that all tables will be available at that time:

{'$setup_hooks', [{200,
                    [{my_setup_mod, create_tables, []}]
                    [{my_setup_mod, create_db_entries, []},
                     {my_setup_mod, verify_consistency, []}]

You can add multiple hooks for each phase, and they will be executed in the order you specify. You shouldn't make any assumptions about whether your hooks are run before or after other applications' hooks, except what is dictated by the phase number.

There are some other features as well. Read the man page for setup.

Comments and extension proposals are welcome.

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