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Erlang Term Explorer (TX)

This app was created to fill the void in the data visualisation area. And to help you follow "know your data" paradigm. Basically it shows you your data in web browser via webserver listening to localhost.

What does it look like?


  • tx:show(Term) and tx:show(Term, Title)
    • Given an arbitrary term, saves it temporarily and creates an unique URL to it (similar to Pastebin but with faster/manual expiration). Click the URL or copy and open in your web browser (Javascript required).
  • tx:redbug(Spec) and tx:redbug(Spec, Options)
    • If you have Redbug available, then tx will run redbug:start and capture events output, then store it in a regular way as a browsable term.
  • Process and ports are "inspectable", just click one to see.
  • Proplists with printable keys are detected and formatted tidier.
  • Uses only standard Erlang libraries (inets), no external dependencies.

How to begin

Add as your application dependency or download it and compile manually. Run your application as usual. When you need to see things, call tx:show(Term). in Erlang console or insert call to tx:show where you need it. URL is returned from tx:show, and Erlang shell will display it. NOTE: return value won't be displayed if you call tx:show in your code.

Application tx will be started automatically and web server will be opened on your first call of tx:show/1. Alternatively run tx manually via: tx:start().. Default port is 20000, and default host is localhost. You can set port to 0 in, to start on random available port.


Simple demo: tx:show(application:which_applications()).

All sorts of terms in one: tx:show([<<123,32,1>>, <<1:1, 3:5, 45:7>>, <<"test\ttest">>, 123, 123.321, make_ref(), self(), erlang:ports(), fun()->ok end, {fun erlang:ports/0, 'test', "test"}, [{test, value1}, {fgsfds, 1000}], [1,2,3|{4, [5|test]}]]).

R17 maps example: tx:show(#{k1 => "test", k2 => 'test', k3 => 123, k4 => <<"test">>}).


Possible things to add of improve

  • Support compact display of value-only tuples and lists (multiple values per line)
  • ? Backend could recognize record definitions and supply field information to frontend
  • Paste term from clipboard
  • Implement automatic expiration (cleanup loop on timer)
  • Toolbox for External Term Format: encode, decode, compress, view in hex etc.
  • Unfold the whole thing into introspection tool like tv (table viewer) or observer.


Erlang term explorer. Pastebin type app which displays terms of any complexity straight from your erlang shell in web browser. No external deps (inets only).




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