Investigating NPM Dependencies

I have been working with a number of Node projects recently.

Keeping dependencies upto date is a big time sink. I use Dependabot to help with these.

Here is a utility that I have written that allows visualisation of module dependencies:

It loads node_modules into a Neo4j graph database.

To use this you need to install neo4j, create a database user with a password and the Erlang OTP runtime.

Here are the important details:

Once you have run mix then you can use the following:

./package_compare path-to-the/package.json localhost neo4j_username neo4j_password

This can be run across multiple projects to compare the dependencies. Once you have loaded multiple applications you can you the simple query:


This will allow you to find the core set of dependencies that your applications are using. If two projects have a large core then there may be a common library waiting to be extracted.

This is an example of an Elixir escript application. This takes an unusual approach with the Sips library, it uses start link itself so that the database configuration can be supplied on the command line. Normally this would be started as a dependent application and the config found from a config file.

Designing Elixir Systems With OTP – Part Three

The B2 edition of this book is out. The new chapter is dedicated to Supervisors. These are correctly described as Lifecycle components.

This is the first time that I have seen the new DynamicSupervisors being used.

Minor note the parameter in

Lifecycle/lib/mastery/boundary/quiz_session.ex for select_session/1 has changed to name from session.

Similarly for answer_question/2

The code samples now clearly state where the code is to be added.

There was a minor typo and some missing code that breaks the final iex session.

Current code can be found at:

Elixir iex documentation : C

This is the third part of an exploration of the Elixir base libraries

Here is an introduction to what you get out of the box with iex:

CCalendarDate, time and calendar functions
CaseClauseErrorThis is a struct used for errors.
CodeUtilities for managing code compilation, code
evaluation, and code loading.
CollectableProtocol to traverse data structures.
Used for putting data into things.
CompileErrorThis is a struct used for errors.
CondClauseErrorThis is a struct used for errors.

Doing the same with :c gives the erlang modules

ccErlang compiler.
calendarDate, time and calendar functions
cerlCore Erlang abstract syntax trees.
cerl_clausesUtility functions for Core Erlang
case/receive clauses.
cerl_setsSet functions.
cerl_treesBasic functions on Core Erlang abstract syntax trees.
codeUtilities for managing code compilation, code
evaluation, and code loading.
code_serverProcess used for live code reloading
compileErlang compiler interface
countersLibrary of mutable counters with no locking.

Elixir iex documentation : B

This is the second part of an exploration of the Elixir base libraries

Here is an introduction to what you get out of the box with iex:

BBadArityErrorThis is a struct used for errors.
BadBooleanErrorThis is a struct used for errors.
BadFunctionErrorThis is a struct used for errors.
BadMapErrorThis is a struct used for errors.
BadStructErrorThis is a struct used for errors.
BaseEncoding and decoding functions
for 16, 32, 64, hex, url
BehaviourMechanism for handling behaviours
BitwisePerforms bit calculations.

Doing the same with :b gives the erlang modules

bbase64Base 64 encode and decode
beam_aUsed after code generation before
optimisation. Normalises the code.
beam_asmAssembler for the beam
beam_blockErlang compiler
beam_bsErlang compiler
beam_bsmErlang compiler
beam_cleanErlang compiler
beam_deadErlang compiler
beam_dictErlang compiler
beam_disamErlang compiler
beam_exceptErlang compiler
beam_flattenErlang compiler
beam_jumpErlang compiler
beam_libErlang compiler
beam_listingErlang compiler
beam_opcodesErlang compiler
beam_peepErlang compiler
beam_receiveErlang compiler
beam_recordErlang compiler
beam_reorderErlang compiler
beam_splitErlang compiler
beam_trimErlang compiler
beam_typeErlang compiler
beam_utilsErlang compiler
beam_validatorErlang compiler
beam_zErlang compiler
binaryHandles binary data.
This is the Erlang string type

Elixir iex documentation : A

I recently found out how powerful the iex tool is for documentation.

This is the general form of getting detailed documentation:

This is the start of a long series about the modules that you get out of the box.
1> h Module.function_name/arity

This returns the documentation on this specific function in the specific module.

I also found that typing a capital letter and tab expands the known modules.

Here is an introduction to what you get out of the box with iex:

AAccessKey based access to structures.
AgentSimple abstraction around state
ApplicationWorking with applications and their callbacks
ArgumentErrorThis is a struct used for errors.
ArithmeticError This is a struct used for errors.
AtomConvenience functions for working with atoms.

Translating Elixir/Erlang terms:

An application is equivalent of a windows DLL, something that you compose a system out of. A typical application would be a logging system.

Atoms are a non-garbage collected resource. They make convenient aliases to global things.

Doing the same with :a gives the erlang modules

aapplicationGeneric OTP Application
application_controllerKernel supplied application controller
application_masterKernel supplied application master.
Responsible for knowing the topmost
application_starterResponsible for starting applications in
a defined order
arrayArray structure, fixed or extensible
atomicsProvides atomic operations using
hardware instructions
authErlang network authentication server

Designing Elixir Systems With OTP – Part Two

I have continued working through this beta book and have updated the github repo: with the samples.

So far this book is easier to follow than say Programming Phoenix since it does not keep changing the code that you are working on. The testing code is normally close to where you have typed it, so finding mistakes does not require too much effort. I would recommend using mix test after each code sample has been typed in as fixing errors can be tricky.

Note the only difference between my code and the supplied sample is the use of the british name Maths rather than Math for the sample code. My degree is in Mathematics so I can’t let a typo like that stand!

The main points from the second half of the book are the very clean validation techniques used. I like that they called the process returned by start_link a session.

The book currently stops at the end of chapter 6, so I will have to resume work on this series once it has been updated.

Tools to help Elixir Exercism.IO Mentors

I have been mentoring Elixir on Exercism.IO for about 6 months.

Over that time I have started to build a collection of tools to help with the mentoring.

This is the major trick that I use to help find problems:

grep -v @tag *_test.exs > test.exs && elixir test.

I also have my notes for mentoring:

I have now found that you can install credo to run globally (apparently this is contentious – it can cause problems if you have different versions installed locally and globally):

git clone

cd bunt


mix archive.install

cd –

git clone

cd credo

mix deps.get


mix archive.install

Once you have that then you can now use:

mix credo *.exs –verbose –strict

It’s also useful if students are having trouble with documentation to submit pull requests to:

  • – Elixir training
  • elixir-lang – Elixir documentation
  • elixir – Hex docs