Write snippets of code in your documentation and execute them as regression tests.

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Run the Elixir examples calling byexample as:

$ byexample -l elixir your-file-here                # byexample: +skip

You need the default interpreter iex installed first. Check its download page

Stability: unsupported - it may work but currently it is not possible to offer any guarantees. Contributions from the community are needed!

Note: byexample will work with older version of the interpreter, IEx however it will do several hacks. The recommended version is 1.9.0 or superior.

Pretty print

byexample changes the default IEx’s width to a smaller value (32) so nested structures are break into multiline prints. (pretty print).

iex> %{:a => 1, 2 => :b, 3 => %{:c => 0, :d => %{:x => 0, :y => :e}}}
=> %{
  2 => :b,
  3 => %{
    c: 0,
    d: %{x: 0, y: :e}
  :a => 1

Note: byexample uses Inspect to pretty print and the output of this had changed in the past so there are not any warranties. The output shown correspond to IEx version 1.9.2.

The object returned

Because everything in Elixir is an expression, everything returns a result and it is printed by IEx.

This is annoying if you want to write several Elixir lines without checking the results of each one.

For this reason, byexample suppress the representation of the object returned unless the example has a =>.

In the following case, the result of each expression is not printed and therefor they are not checked:

iex> 1 + 2

iex> IO.puts("hello")

Now, compare it with this. It is the same example but the objects returned are checked too.

iex> 1 + 2
=> 3

iex> IO.puts("hello")
=> :ok

If you want to check all the expressions, you can force to print all the objects returned using the +elixir-expr-print=true.

On the other hand, you can disable it forever with +elixir-expr-print=false.

The default is +elixir-expr-print=auto.

Note: byexample uses inspect_fun to customize this which it is available since IEx version 1.9. If you are stuck with an older version you can use the dont_display_result hack.

dont_display_result hack

For older version of IEx, the only way to suppress the display of a result is adding ; IEx.dont_display_result at the end of each Elixir line.

byexample can do this automatically if you enable this with +elixir-dont-display-hack.

However this is a hack and it will not always will work.

For example, if your example ends with a comment, you will be commenting out also the ; IEx.dont_display_result:

valid example here   # valid comment ; IEx.dont_display_result

Also, the ; may create unexpected warnings.

Terminal support

To work with the current Elixir interpreter, iex, the ANSI terminal emulator is enabled by default (+term=ansi) and cannot be disabled.

Also, the terminal geometry cannot by changed after launching the interpreter so the option +geometry cannot be used in an example (but it can be used from the command line)

The amount of rows of the terminal has a minimum value of 128 and this limit is really important: if your outputs have more than 128 lines you will need to increase the geometry or the results may be undefined.

The same for the width of the terminal: minimum of 128 columns.

Echoed input lines

If the snippet has a very long line, greater than the terminal’s width, the last part of the line that does not fit in the terminal will be echoed in the output of the example.

This is an annoying artifact due how iex works.

A simple workaround is to make the lines of the code in the snippet shorter or increase the terminal width.

Type text

The type feature (+type) is not supported.

Elixir specific options

$ byexample -l elixir --show-options       # byexample: +norm-ws
elixir's specific options
                        required for IEx < 1.9.
  +elixir-expr-print {auto,true,false}
                        print the expression's value (true); suppress it
                        (false); or print it only if the example has a =>
                        (auto, the default)