Ecto 2 is coming

Some days ago Ecto version 2.0.0-rc.5 has been released. So Ecto 2 is coming and exploring how it works and its new features is a good idea.

First, from, Ecto is a domain specific language to write queries and interacting with databases in Elixir.

This version has four main components: Ecto.Repo, Ecto.Schema, Ecto.Query, Ecto.Changeset. Note here the absence of Ecto.Model that has been deprecated in favor of a more data-oriented approach.

Let’s try it by creating a sample Elixir application.

mix new --sup my_shop

This command uses mix to create our application while the --sup option generates an OTP application skeleton that includes a supervision tree.

Now we are going to edit mix.exs file in order to include some dependencies at their latest versions: ecto and postgrex.

def application do
    [applications: [:logger, :ecto, :postgrex],
     mod: {MyShop, []}]
defp deps do
      {:ecto, "~> 2.0.0-rc.5"},
      {:postgrex, "~> 0.11.1"}

Run mix deps.get and we’re ready to define our repo.

defmodule MyShop do
  use Application

  def start(_type, _args) do
    import Supervisor.Spec, warn: false

    children = [
      supervisor(MyShop.Repo, [])
    opts = [strategy: :one_for_one, name: MyShop.Supervisor]
    Supervisor.start_link(children, opts)

defmodule MyShop.Repo do
  use Ecto.Repo, otp_app: :my_shop

Note that we are defining our repo supervised by our app.
Repositories are the way you use to communicate with datastore, they are wrappers around our databases and you can define as many as we need and configure them in config/config.exs. This is my configuration:

use Mix.Config

config :my_shop,
  ecto_repos: [MyShop.Repo]

config :my_shop, MyShop.Repo,
  adapter: Ecto.Adapters.Postgres,
  url: "postgres://my_shop_user:my_shop_password@localhost:5432/my_shop_dev"

Now we can run the specific mix task mix ecto.create and your database should be created.

We need some tables so let’s define a migration. In priv/repo/migrations/20160516233500_create_tables.exs:

defmodule MyShop.Repo.Migrations.CreateTables do
  use Ecto.Migration

  def change do
    create table(:products) do
      add :name, :string
      add :description, :text
      add :cost, :integer

    create table(:colors) do
      add :code, :string

    create table(:order_items) do
      add :product_id, references(:products)
      add :color_id, references(:colors)
      add :quantity, :integer
      add :cost, :integer

    create table(:orders) do
      add :order_item_id, references(:order_items)

    create table(:addresses) do
      add :country, :string

Run mix ecto.migrate and we’re done, we have five tables.

Now we are ready to use Ecto.Schema:

defmodule Product do
  use Ecto.Schema

  schema "products" do
    field :name, :string
    field :description, :string
    field :cost, :integer

Schemas are used to map any data source into an Elixir struct. Note that it’s not mandatory to use all the table fields, just those you need.

Now run iex -S mix in order to load your application into iex and verify if it works:

iex(1)> %Product{}
%Product{__meta__: #Ecto.Schema.Metadata<:built>, cost: nil, description: nil,
 id: nil, name: nil}
iex(2)> %Unexistent{}
** (CompileError) iex:2: Unexistent.__struct__/0 is undefined, cannot expand struct Unexistent
    (elixir) src/elixir_map.erl:58: :elixir_map.translate_struct/4

Now, let’s use our repo to insert a record in our data store:

MyShop.Repo.insert(%Product{name: "Programming Elixir"})

13:43:52.298 [debug] QUERY OK db=26.0ms
INSERT INTO "products" ("name") VALUES ($1) RETURNING "id" ["Programming Elixir"]
 %Product{__meta__: #Ecto.Schema.Metadata<:loaded>, cost: nil, description: nil,
  id: 1, name: "Programming Elixir"}}

Import Ecto.Query and retrieve all the products in our table:

iex(4)> import Ecto.Query
iex(5)> MyShop.Repo.all(from p in Product)

13:46:18.400 [debug] QUERY OK db=1.4ms
SELECT p0."id", p0."name", p0."description", p0."cost" FROM "products" AS p0 []
[%Product{__meta__: #Ecto.Schema.Metadata<:loaded>, cost: nil, description: nil,
  id: 1, name: "Programming Elixir"}]

It works 🙂

In my next post I’ll try to go deeper with more complex queries and introduce changesets.

If you are interested in this subject, Plataformatec will release an ebook about Ecto 2.0 written by José Valim, Elixir creator, you can reserve a copy here.

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