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Designing for Scalability with Erlang/OTP by Steve Vinoski, Francesco Cesarini

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Chapter 9. Applications

In our previous chapters, we’ve looked at worker behaviors and how they can be grouped together to form a supervision tree. In this chapter, we explore the application behavior, which allows us to package together supervision trees, modules, and other resources into one semi-independent unit, providing the basic building blocks of large Erlang systems. An OTP application is a convenient way to package code and configuration files and distribute the result around the world for others to use.

An Erlang node typically consists of a number of loosely coupled OTP applications that interact with each other. OTP applications come from a variety of sources:

  • Some are available as part of the standard Ericsson distribution, including mnesia, sasl, and os_mon.

  • Other generic applications that are not part of the Ericsson distribution but are necessary for the functionality of many Erlang systems can be obtained commercially or as open source. Examples of generic applications include elarm for alarming, folsom or exometer for metrics, and lager for logging.

  • Each node also has one or more nongeneric applications that contain the system’s business logic. These are often developed specifically for the system, containing the core of the functionality.

  • A final category of OTP applications are those that are full user applications themselves that, together with their dependencies, could run on a standalone basis in an Erlang node. The bundle of applications is referred to as a ...

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